Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Cats of Boyfriends Past

The cats in Caroline Jackson's apartment smelled. They hardly ever cleaned themselves, but when they would, giant hairballs would litter the hardwood floor. These, as well as pebbles tracked from the litter boxes and pellets of hard food, were stepped on regularly by Caroline. She hated the whiny animals, but she couldn't bring herself to get rid of them. Previous boyfriends had given each one to her, and consequently, she saw the various men's features within each fur-covered face. Carl, the Siamese, had a thin mustache that he habitually licked when caught in anxious situations. Simon, the Manx, jiggled his double chin when laughing. Peter, the Calico, squinted his eyes most of the time, due to never acquiring a needed pair of glasses. But Xavier, the Sphynx, was the worst of all, always furrowing his brows in disapproval of Caroline's actions.

Caroline had realized Xavier had become a problem after she opened her front door one night to find the feline sitting at the top of the staircase, yellow eyes staring down at her. It was almost three o'clock in the morning. Sure, she had jokingly told the cats she would be home before one, but of course she didn't think they really cared. Xavier held his gaze, as if punishing Caroline for missing her curfew. She slowly shut the door behind her and began walking towards the stairs. The cat hacked twice, looked at Caroline again, and turned around, prowling into the darkness. Caroline made sure to close her bedroom door that night before falling asleep.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I ran through the overgrown fields brown with drought all afternoon, my dirty clenched fists swinging here and there, my ripped dress twisting behind me. The tears formed two white lines running down each of my brown-stained cheeks, like war paint. I had buried it, and now it was gone. Gone, like I promised Henry it would be. I trust you, Dorrance, he had said. I trust you.

The men in heavy boots and torn jeans stopped chasing me after a good while, calling out all sorts of bad words and saying, “Just wait ‘till we tell your daddy about this!” I didn’t care if they told my daddy or not, I wasn’t going to stop running. I could run for hours without getting beat. One time, I ran so long I ended up in a different county. I had to call daddy to come pick me up and he wasn’t too happy with me about that, hollering, didn’t you know how far you were going, and saying with a sigh, sometimes I just wonder about you, girl. Sometimes I wonder about me, too. Like, what ever made me get involved with Henry Gibb.

Henry Gibb was a year ahead of me at Winnsboro High, which meant he could drive. That’s probably why when he talked to me that day in the parking lot I decided to talk back. That, and he said I had the shiniest hair he’d ever seen. I guess we spent almost every day together after that, drinking sodas on the hood of his car, parked in front of the Pic N’ Pay. We usually didn’t say much, maybe a “the weather’s nice” once in awhile, and an “I’m bored” some other times. Sometimes he would reach out and touch my hair, smoothing it underneath his fingers, as if comforting me. At first, I thought it was a pretty weird thing for him to do, but I started to like it after awhile, feeling a sense of security beneath that pale hand of his. As long as Henry Gibb continued to pet my hair, I felt somewhat safe around him. So that’s why, when he asked me to do a favor for him, I agreed to help.

We’d been sitting on his car one unparticular night, Henry’s boney arms bent behind him, his head rolled back upon his shoulders, gazing at the black sky. I was picking at the small burs stuck in my knee socks, thinking about all the different things we could say to one another but didn't have to. He cleared his throat all a sudden, which startled me a little, and asked if I thought we were friends. I said, “Sure, we are,” and asked him why he would wonder a thing like that. Without a word, he jumped off the hood of the car and went around to the trunk. He came back holding a large, ancient-looking key, letting it droop from his fingers as if it were too heavy to carry. He explained that no one could know he had that key and when I asked why, he wouldn't say. He wouldn't say a damned thing about it, not even what it was for. I should've known at that very moment that there was something fishy about Henry and his mysterious key. I definitely should've known, and I definitely should've said I didn't want nothing to do with it.

After I laid eyes on that spooky key, it stuck in my mind for a good while. I was fascinated by the rusted curve of the handle, and wanted to find out where it belonged to more than anything. However, after I did find out months later, I really wish I hadn't. Everyone seemed to be after that stupid key and Henry Gibb knew it too, that's why he pawned it off on me like the weasel he was. Soon as I knew it, I was hiding that key in the back of my closet, telling Henry it was safe. Boy, was I wrong. That key was no safer there than it was out in the wide open, and I was no longer safe under the lanky fingers of Henry Gibb. I had to get out of there, and so did that dumb key.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Sometimes I can't breathe--

Other times I can't breathe--

The honey to my fry bread,
coat me in warm confections.

I'm stuck

to your adherent personality,
keeping all right.

A Midwest mindset,
a tenacious Texan.
Chili with beans,
chili without.

Now you are (a part
of) me. And I am
(a part of) you.
Who is to say

who is who?