A Slow-Dance in Smoke: IIThe snow crunched like bone beneath my boots as I walked down the icy sidewalk towards home. The sun poured across the air, flooding the world with white. Ahead of me loomed the man from the Wawa, shuffling through the snow while he clutched at his cigarette as if it were a life-preserver. My foul mood fermented inside me, bubbling up with its bile lapping at my throat. My fists clenched, my eyes vaulted towards the cracked sidewalk to count the fissures and lines till my eyelids creased and sleep drifted onto my boiling brain. The man rounded a corner, billowing smoke behind him like old steam ship. I did the same, watching him drift through the snow as mechanically as an assembly line worker. Smoke danced in the sun and swirled towards me, tickling my nose with rank exhaust. Falling into his step, I followed him past the gray-brick high school. It flanked the trees crisscrossing the neighborhood, their bare-skinned arms waving at the sky like a flock of ballerinas petrified in mid-le
A Slow-Dance in Smoke: IDinnertime at home meant Dad was locked in his office, blasting Bob Dylan, and doing God only knows—while Mom stood on the stairs like Wonder Woman in sweats, shouting at him till her lungs became ambulance sirens—while my brother Bobby banged on Dad’s door—until the Earth shattered to swallow us whole for our dinnertime din. Only I remained to doze alone in my room, cloaked in my bubble-wrapped haze of headphones and cold green tea. My toes curled into fists, my hair tangled in my pillow; and as I listened to the curly-cue sound-waves spiraling into my ear, drifting like fallen leaves onto my brain…I was more than just alive—I was free.
“Addie, I’m going to feed your dinner to a goblin horde if you don’t come down right now.” It was dinnertime again. My mother’s voice was welling up in my ear, overflowing as it drowned out the voice building a palace inside me. Sitting up, I unplugged myself from my stere
SecretsI was once given a list of words. I was told to describe them. Words like “pretty”, “handsome”, “attractive”. I was told to say the first things that crept into my mind. Like a cat into my lap or a thief into my house, it didn’t matter which. Just so long as it left my mind as soon as it came in. I sat back in my chair, let the words drop into the well swelling with thoughts inside me, watched the ripples dance in symmetry and disappear into calm again.
“Pretty,” I said. “Um…soft, curved, colors, uh—not me.”
The light from the window played in my hands. It played in my hair, it ignited the reddish blonde strands into a fire spilling across my shoulders. I curled my fingers through its fiery curtain shadowing my eyes, but the new word slipped in anyway. My feet were anchors pinning me to the ground, though every nerve in me strained to sprout wings. Who was I, if not a man then what—a bird rusting in it