I walk through a night lit up with street lights and pulsing with teenagers having a good time. I never a had a good time.

I can't have a conversation of bodies the way some people can. I saw an old roommate last week. She's doing well. She said “Do you remember?” alot. And I did, sort of.

Her memories were about the bars. The way men would dance with her easily, kiss her, and they'd go home together. A conversation of bodies. I was never there because I couldn't handle that sort of night. But I remember the stories the next morning, already losing the sharp edges of fact and turning rapidly into lore. Stories really do bring people together, even when they're not true or only half true. Now they're the only way we can speak to one another.

I'll see here again in five years and we'll tell the same stories and I'll remember it however she tells it because I like the revisionist history where I had a good time.

january 24

i used to drag my family on tours of a cemetery in batavia, new york drawn to the headstones of children with echoes of the fun that they used to play toys that would litter the grass and the marble said more than the epitaph may with trees covered in wind chimes and the quiet of midnight peaceful in the middle of the day

pay me a tribute in permanent marker on a bench, by the lake, with a view miss me only enough that you can still get through the day but never let the grief consume and when you notice the stars for the first time when you look at the sky and ask them why i hope you remember they pay us no mind and let me go

the man on the corner always smoked on a schedule he'd wave but never said much got up in the middle of the night left the bed, left his wife to inhale a nicotine dream it was cold, 3am, and January when the heart attack hit disoriented and bleeding he crawled down the driveway and settled under the light (all night) his wife woke up, an empty bed, concerned and wondering where he went she found him barely alive and in the morning he was declared with vital signs too low to save my mom met up with a neighbour to scrub the blood away

pay me a tribute in scratched away bark in a forest, in the night time, with a view miss me only enough that you can still get through the day but never let the grief consume and when you notice the stars the first time when you look at the sky and ask them why i hope you remember that they pay us no mind and let me go oh, let me go

✒️ Somewhere on my computer, buried in the depths of a much longer story, is a band called Spinster Youth. One of their albums is titled January 24 and the this is the title track. The rest of the song lyrics and the CD booklet itself also exists and will probably make it here one day.

It starts with a warning and then it turns to falling. The motion sensor lights catch the snow on its way down, turning it to glitter. Some of it stays and then more if it stays and then all of it stays. It builds and it covers. The world is sleeping and the glitter falls. No one is around and the motion sensors do not trigger. If the snow falls during the night and there’s no one around to turn on the lights, is it still glitter? Yes.

The house down the road is odd. It has too many additions from too many times when someone walked its halls and thought “more.” It turns into a home when it’s wrapped with glitter and I can imagine the people inside. They smile easily and they make the sort of tea everyone likes. At least for today, they look at their house and they think “enough.” I hope it stays.

I come to in a pharmacy refrigerator aisle. I can’t remember how I got here, except I remember it vividly because it happens like this all the time. I get high and I get a craving and I disappear into myself on the dark three block walk between my apartment and the drug store. I tell myself stories so that I don’t think about getting shoved into a van that comes out of nowhere down the dark street. If I was smart, I’d keep my wits about me — but what has awareness ever gotten me except knowing too much about things I can’t change? I wander the aisles and check my phone for the time and text messages that don’t come through. I think about the rainy day this summer when I followed Claire down the makeup aisle as she ran her nails over the plastic tubes of lipstick and mascara. She stole a cherry chapstick and a pair of tweezers. Subtle and quiet for only a moment, I watched her slide them both into the pockets of her dress. She looked up at me to make sure I saw before she started tapping her nails against the nail polish. Her smile said: I take what I want. I tried to tell her: Take me. We went to the market and bought two pineapples, a jug of orange juice, and a bottle of vodka. We drank screwdrivers from the messily carved out fruit with novelty straws that had penises on the end. She kissed me with cherry lips between cold showers.

“How do you think they get Mountain Dew that colour?” I ask the clerk. She looks down at the bottle of Arizona Green Tea. I don’t really remember choosing it and it’s not what I really want. “Pardon?” She looks confused. “Mountain Dew,” I gesture to the fridge aisle. “The fluorescent yellow. How do you think they get it like that?” “This is Arizona Green Tea,” she clarifies for me. She thinks I’ve lost it. “No, I know. I was just wondering about Mountain Dew.” “Oh,” she uses the scanner gun on the Arizona Green Tea. “I don’t know. Is that all?” I look around and down. “One of those scratch cards.” She pulls out the tray and lets me pick. She scans it. Four dollars and change. I tap my phone on the terminal and take my tea and scratch card out to the sidewalk. The neon lights and TV reflections from the sports bar next door remind me of a casino and I regret my scratch card when I remember what a scam the whole business of gambling is. I tuck it in my purse and crack open the can for a sip. It’s not what I wanted. I didn’t see anything I wanted but there’s something missing, something lacking. I pull out my phone and call a friend. “Do you think I’m losing it?” I ask him. “Are you losing it?” “Maybe.” “Where are you?” “The McDougal drug store.” “Come over. I’ll open a bottle of wine.” That’s not what I want, either. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be there in ten.” When I hang up the phone, I see two texts from Claire.

What are you doing?

I miss your lips.

I delete the conversation. I head down the street, a little more aware of the cars coming up behind me.

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