All tagged on the road

Boy

Since June, I’ve been working a sawmill job forty miles south of the place I’m living. There’s nothing to rent out there, even the single-wides eaten up by folks who’ve been in the mountains twenty years or more. But the mill pays better than waitressing, or bagging groceries at the A&B. It’s a temporary thing, the way I see it. A means of getting out.

The Stockings

TW — Descriptions of Self-harm — I am writing to you because for so long I didn’t have a name for what transpired between us that night. You have a wife now. And a child. I am a sign you pass on the highway.

Bearproof

The game fit Texas rancher country: count cows, and whoever has the most at the final destination wins—but if a cemetery passes on your side, you start back at zero. Molly’d wanted to know whether a little graveyard in the side grounds of a church counted and I said of course and blew all the air out of my lungs through my nose.

Sins of Omission

On sábados you go to the playa in San Juan wearing only your underwear. You are a girl, but one with closely cropped short hair, and your chest has not yet discovered puberty, so going topless still proves to be socially acceptable. Or so you and your immigrant parents think.

Mother to Daughter

She gon talk about your skin. And your forehead. Fat girls, they know to go for what’s obvious, round, shining like a bulb of refrigerator light. She’s coming for you like she do for that last slice of cake sitting there at midnight when the house is pregnant with slumber and sweat—say that.

Buy You

I found him at a pawn shop a while back, searching for a cheap hammer. He looked good on the outside. Shirt tucked into jeans with pocket flaps, hair like pipe cleaners, shoelaces tied too tightly. He bought the hammer for 59 cents. I said I’d be his girlfriend three weeks later. 

Operation Desert Storm

Fadel was the brother who stayed the longest, the one who called my grandma “Mom.” He wore strong, spicy cologne, the kind that chokes and stings, lingers long after he has left the room. My mom told me that when he lived with them, he got a brand new car every six months and threw away his undershirts after he had worn them just once. He was a good friend to my dad, Curtis, the dad who I never saw.

What's Left

Bama’s family is driving back home to Milan from the hospital in Memphis. In the back seat, Bama is sandwiched between her brothers. Darrell stares out the window. Nazareth, who has just learned to walk, swings his legs and sucks his bottom lip. Up front, Bama’s mother is holding the fourth baby, the one who did not make it. It’s wrapped in thick blankets like it could be kept warm. Bama’s mother still looks pregnant, her belly rounded in front of her.

What I Did with My Inheritance

I built spite houses beside all my siblings’ homes. Spite houses on corners and in alleys, spite houses to block scenic views and make parking impossible. Spite houses to plummet property values. Spite houses as symbols, as beacons, as signals, sending thoughts of me plundering into their skulls every morning when they rise fresh from the sheets, when they come home collapsing after work, when they wake in the middle of the night and aren’t sure why.

Roadside Attraction

The moment you step out of the car, you’ve lost your keys. They are not in the car. They are not in your purse. You decide to put off locating them until after you’ve seen the exhibit; it’s been a long day. You walk in, pay your thirteen dollars. Inside smells like harsh lemonade, a sort of weird lemon mirage in the middle of this desert you’ve been driving through. The first glass case contains approximately ten objects, several of which you recognize.

Evacuees

Before our evacuation, we sat out on the lawn together and watched trial rockets burn up on the horizon, gauging the risk of going away.

Just Because

Rachel’s parents were driving to a music festival in Santa Fe when she overheard the conversation about her Uncle Roy. Uncle Roy who, up to that point, she’d known nothing of. Her mom said he was kicked out of the family when he got caught playing diddly winks with the gardener’s son. Her mom said he worked the truck stops somewhere over in Texas, that he was a favorite because he could take his teeth out, because his blowjobs were all gums. That stuck in Rachel’s mind, the blowjobs were all gums part, because she imagined it had something to do with candy and bubbles.