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She would scream on the weekends, throw shoes at her wall. Her father’s problems itched like dry skin. She sank a wooden leaf, imagining it was her father, and still it floated.
Later, trouble had something to do with the light in her walk- in closet, the smoke from patchouli incense holding her still. Music tinted the air with who she was, who she had become. Soon, she would be meeting a boy, not her boyfriend, by the creek at midnight.The honeysuckle flowers would have already bloomed, and she would teach the new boy to suck out drops of honey from the stems on the lawn. She would show him how to bethat gentle— to get the drop to come out just right.
Your mother said you were starting up again, like in books and movies. The first thing you understood about escaping to California was this; you would never have snow again.
You’d see it in Christmas movies. Would wave at it in the distance, glinting and winking from the peaks of the Santa Ynes mountains.
There would be Jasmine flowers, Eucalyptus trees, small butterflies. Smells that overwhelm a family with the feeling of “lucky”.
You wanted to be live on Love Street. To steal paperbacks about salvation sex and hide them under your bed. You told yourself that one day the sound of your name would make a man sick and then well.
You grew up to be a grown-up who got smoked out by previous lovers after sneaking their animals into your life. The dog was your very first love. You were criminal friends. She’d sneak the cat’s food and you’d let her do it.
What did you plan to do with your life? Escape normalcy. Find a man with a dog and a walk-in closet and make yourself sick and then well. Feel better when smoking a man’s calmness.
You’re fifteen and a boy is coming over. He bounces like music but looks like a human frog, all buggy-eyed and bubble- cheeked. You’re not sure why you want to touch him. On the way to school he walks beside you, careful not to interrupt your gait. You let him kiss you on the mouth. He lives near the racetrack, waits like a shadow. We’re too young for anything, you say. You kiss each other’s faces, but the melody comes later, behind the cafeteria.
Back then she and her mother waited for the phone to ring, for money to plump itself up and walk through their door. Moments passed with yarn and crochet hooks.
She made hats that never fit, put them away in a trunk with games they didn’t play. She twirled her hair like twine. Her mother sat alone on Saturdays, yelled at politicians on television.
She dreamt about kissing the bubble-cheeked boys who ran around the playing field.
The thrill of pony rides, the quiet of a tourist park in October. The feeling that her father was looking at her, but she couldn’t remember his face.
Growing up on the warm beaches, her belly button was open to the world like an eye, watching for trouble. Boys were called, “Conch” and “Bong”. They rode waves, and she watched them.
Copyright 2021 Meg Pokrass
From Spinning to Mars by Meg Pokrass (Blue Light 2021)