We don’t talk about the bouquets much.
Oswald wore them in his hair when we were kids. When we found the bodies, he had a full head of roses and daisies, all expertly arranged by his mother. She fussed over him, really. The shy boy ate to the sounds of that woman hissing and fumbling over his every move.
Embarrassed for him, I stared at my plate when she piled food onto his, looked around their massive old Tudor home when she pulled his ears, fussing about wax, hid my face in prayer when she pulled dried skin off his…
Bunni held my head, and I could taste every part of her in my mouth. Every single inch of her that my tongue wet — every single inch — sat flavorful. Her tongue soaked down to my jaw. Her hands traveled down my stomach, teased the top of my pants, and I had to stop her before I was no longer able.
“There’s not much time,” I whispered, trying not to hear my own wheezing. She nodded, her lips rubbing against my neck.
“Tell me about us, Bosque. Don’t leave anything out. I want you to tell me…
Astor snored lightly. I laid on her breasts, one bare leg pulled over her, and pinched her sides until she swatted at my head. I wanted her to get up. She ignored me until I bit her nipple, baring down until her body jerked forward. She gasped, popping my forehead again. For a moment, I felt guilty, wondering if she’d have trouble breastfeeding Astrid if I bit her too hard.
Breastfeeding Astrid? She’s four. Right?
“Hit me again, girl,” I growled.
She let out a breathy laugh, covering her eyes with her arm. “What do you want?”
I wanted to…
Pt. 2: monstrosity
The night of the drowning, soaking wet but feeling like the most massive weight had been lifted from my chest, I ushered Noah around her office. There were towels and a change of clothes in the corner for me. Noah watched me dress without a word.
My body felt completely empty. Part of me was excited for some reason, exhausted and worn out but filled with a fantastic amount of energy, like a new piece had been added to my brain and I was thinking twice as fast. I managed to snap myself out of…
ALICIA FREE: 16
“The world is so small, Alicia. You see one person, and they’re actually another. You build your own community, and it’s actually just you.” Alicia’s father held her small hand as they watched the town burn. Crumbling, waves of heat distorting the shrunken bodies of their friends. She wanted to tell her mother to stop sobbing, to stop sucking in those deep breaths. It was their neighbors she was sucking into her lungs. Couldn’t she understand that?
Alicia followed her family to the car with shaky legs. There was nothing to be done for the town. No…
There’s one saying I live by. It’s something my momma used to tell me when she’d lay out my clothes in the morning for school.
“There is no such thing as benevolence, Jukel. If you’re starving with your friends and there’s one piece of food left, you’ll all reach for it. Doesn’t matter how close you are or how much they love you. You’ll kill each other for it.”
This was like her personal saying. …
Just because you can’t die doesn’t mean you won’t suffer. No one understands that better than I do. So I stay numb, and I stay calm, and I exist in a way others don’t. And I will for as long as I’m able. And my children will for as long as they’re able — whether we want to or not.
I remind myself of that as often as possible. And it still doesn’t make the emotional hurt any easier to bear. I can die and get up, maybe an infinite amount of times. I’m not sure. …
Panic is such an odd feeling. No matter how much you feel it, no matter how long you’ve drowned in it, you never properly adjust. Never. It becomes a different monster with each iteration, warping and mutating. It commits to swallowing you in a different way every time. This panic in me is old, but it never feels that way. The pressure varies, but I know a panic attack is coming on, sometimes hours before it actually does.
It’s a chronic pain.
The same panic sat in me and transformed itself through every waking moment that Osh didn’t…
“Try not to think about what you deserve…” My mother lifted the bloody sledgehammer over her shoulder as she said those words, eyes on me the whole time. It was forever ago. I was young enough to believe that something divine would stop her. Something this ugly wasn’t possible, not even from a woman who spent the majority of her time verbally and physically abusing me. She’d stood, sledgehammer barely weighing her down at all, and kept her wide, dilated eyes on my face.
“You’ll go crazy, Astor. Absolutely crazy. We never get what we deserve in this…
A while back, almost seven or eight years ago now, I reset.
This wasn’t the first time it happened. I can say that I’ve reset maybe three or four times in my life, and it always happens the same way. I understand that it’s happening, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve taken to using it as a bookmark. Things are changing, and I have to help them change.
That time, it was at my afternoon job at AMC Atlanta Phipps Plaza. My son was a tiny little 2 or 3 year old, and I wouldn’t know for sure he was…