The Accumulation

She dipped her pinky into the silken gray dust and examined it. She once read that domestic dust contained billions of human skin cells, pollen, dust mites, and mite feces. After ten years, the weight of a mattress doubled due to the accumulation of these things. The fact that people could live so obliviously amazed her—little pieces of themselves falling off and floating away, or being trapped in beds indefinitely.

Girlies

In this episode, the models' challenge is to stay photogenic while spiders crawl all over them, creeping on their flat stomachs and toeing their belly buttons and climbing their breasts and making homes in the little shells of their ears. It's the tall girl's turn.

The Migrating Words

Every year, we watched the words leave. Lana stood on the roof edge. I leaned against the chimney; the bricks were like tree scratch. We didn’t have much talking left. She said something and pointed to a bit of sky I couldn’t see. I inched closer, my feet wobbling on the roof tiles. She gripped my arm. I gazed over the town. We saw the words rise. 

The Weight of You

Death by a thousand cuts, the headlines read. Seventeen slashes with a paring knife. Your wife tried to carve the truth from you. But I’m the guilty one. I’m the one that dreamed of all the ways to lose you so that you could never find me.

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They did not tell me her name. She was my aunt, born in what my parent’s generation of Jamaicans called the Country. She didn't cry much at six months. But I knew what she looked like. I knew because my father's family was a deep brown. Theirs was the type of complexion that held fast to its hue even in New York’s winters. She had black hair that curled on the top and lay slick below the bend of her cranium. She had almond-shaped eyes—the pupils dark enough to shine black in the night. Her feet were smaller than baby-small and her cheeks were round. And under no circumstances did they speak her name.

Taiping Bright and Clear

“Maybe we should stop,” I said, not wanting to meander further down unfamiliar little mud roads. But my mother misunderstood. Her lips clamped, and her butt shifted on the driver’s seat. The car moved on. Pebbles sent flying by rubber wheels hit the underside of the old Proton Saga and clanked gratingly.

George Clooney, Do You Miss Augusta?

It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility that George Clooney and I could meet. We’re both Kentuckians. He went to Northern Kentucky University for a while, which is where almost everyone I went to high school with ended up. It’s where I went to take the SAT. George Clooney and I have both stood at the center of that campus and felt like we were trapped inside a concrete fortress made by people with cold and barren souls.

Rag

There was a moment when he could have taken me out of her throat, or at least not stuffed me in so far, but he needed to cross the line. I helped him, I admit. He left me inside her; that is where they found me, distending that narrow passage. Covered in her cells and his.

Benevolence

The middle finger went first, straight through her skin. It wriggled out the back of her neck. Soon, the others followed, emerging one by one, flipping away strands of her hair. The whole hand crawled from the back of her neck. She gagged on the wrist as it slid out of her skin, the fingers drawing closer to the buttons. They snatched the top eye and pulled the first button through.

A Letter to a Newborn Baby I Saw on My Facebook Feed

My first boyfriend had a truck with a little toggle switch on the dash. The kill switch. “For when the Po-Po roll up.” I didn’t understand at the time, so I just said cool. I looked up example videos on YouTube later. That’s how I imagine my own switch. A silver toggle, most likely somewhere around the nape of my neck. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Probably most people have it. You’ve got it, and hopefully you don’t switch it anytime soon.

St. Patrick's Day

I walk up to the bar wearing skin-tight jeans and black converse. There’s a grey loop scarf draped around my front, hiding my neck. My face is rough, dotted red with razor cuts and flakes of stubble. My scarf feels heavy as the bus pulls away from the stop.

TÍA CHAPARRITA

Tía Chaparrita runs a midnight poker game twice a month and deals the best mota in L.A.—tropical bud she moves in from Aguas Calientes four times a year.   She lives off my dead tío’s VA check and her door, her kitchen, is always open to everyone. Beyond cool, I see to my Tía’s every want, her every need.

Three Balloons

If our home is the wicker basket, then Iggy, Sonja, and I are the three balloons keeping this makeshift dwelling airborne. The fourth was Auntie Bern, but she popped. Now her corner sags, and we three puff our chests up to compensate. Her corner is where her brother Marlon likes to crouch. Marlon is ballast. Where are we now, girls? Oh, right. Those are the Laguna Mountains. Iggs preferred the slow flat patchwork collage, keeps telling Marlon she wants to go back. I hope she isn’t next.

The Third Stage

In the dream, you are given a chance to undo your cousin’s suicide. He killed himself on Wednesday. A day that is shockingly recent. You feel like everyone has aged eons since; you keep looking at calendars and realizing, with shock, that it is only Thursday. Only, somehow, Friday. You wish that time would hurry up and place more of itself between you and your cousin’s suicide, like a pillow. Like a cloud.

Landlocked

My mother began sending letters to me upon our arrival in the town. I never replied with the truth, that Dad had been crying since we slammed the trunk and I was masturbating to The Canterbury Tales. The first letter was normal, mostly about how she’d been buying almond milk lately, but in the second letter was a photo of a stretch of highway with a purple, rectangular sign near the shoulder. It said, “In Memory of Louise,” me, with a birthday, my birthday, beneath. She’d always point these types of signs out in the car and now she’d put one up for me, while I was still very alive. On the back of the photo she wrote, “Let’s both not be forgotten.”

Two Tigers

Earlier today, Jade’s mother had taken a whole steamed halibut from the selections lined behind the serving glass. She brought it to the table at the corner of the restaurant nearest the bathroom and called her daughter over, separating the fish into two pieces, one for her and one for Jade. Jade had stared at the tender, white meat of the steaming fish against the black bean and ginger sauce, excited for a meal that wasn’t just rice and vegetables.

A Shed Is a Shed Is a Shed

We hike through the woods, looking for any section that’s been miraculously cleared for us. Tennessee’s braid bounces up and down. She lifts her boot and the braid swings up and out and with every step it slams against her back.