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Atlas & Alice | Issue 5, Winter 2015/2016

me anyway. I couldn’t hear myself either with the tinnitus the aspirin kept inflicting, but I could say “love” and mean it, to the air at my pillow that grew warmer the harder I exhaled into it. I could say “love” all I wanted but couldn’t escape the fact I was the eel raging electric. Because I had been the one to kill her with the contraction of a single muscle, I saw too late. I had coaxed her to an early death all along, away from God and his garden I’d abandoned. I had chosen the moon over her from the time I set my Barbie astronaut’s legs swinging over the dormer. My mom wouldn’t drive into the lake’s center, so I prayed to God that the Barbie house would burn down altogether. I prayed, and my prayer was too soon answered. Her last years of life, I unplugged my rotary phone in my studio apartment whole weekends when I was sure that she would call me, weekends when my neighbors pounded their partners against their bathroom walls, I was pounded a few minutes later, and we all laughed while we opened our mail downstairs together. I poured chocolate syrup woven tightly as a sleeping boa constrictor over ice cream into Styrofoam bowls there was no need of washing and ate bacon with my fingers without blotting the grease off as she had shown me. I dyed my hair red as menstrual blood when she told me the color was unflattering. I thought I was flying to the moon when I was only shutting myself inside another room of the Barbie house all along, resting my legs on a cold burner while displaying my vagina to the tinfoil mouse who lived inside the broiler. Then her cancer burnt down the house along with all the rest of her, and I wandered the city in my space suit, an astronaut with no way of floating any higher. Floating is still something I can do only in water. Friends, co-workers, acquaintances said she looked pretty lying in her casket and I nodded politely. Even I, though, was prettier than my mom’s cadaver, if not enough to count among the living. Not enough to keep breathing just for someone to look at me like a Barbie in a box always smiling and waving. Instead, though, of dying for not being as pretty as I might like to be or because my mom’s no longer here to see the discrepancy, I’ve kept working, at a pet rescue magazine that rescues nothing. The rescue fund only keeps the magazine from going bankrupt. I’ve known now for months yet keep typing quietly. Life is barren enough to no longer take much notice of the moon or the stars twitching behind it. So I sit eight hours a day at my desk beside a succulent plant I bought at the florist’s, petting it when my fingers feel stiff from so cold an office. Every day I write in the voice of animals missing eyes or limbs, asking someone to give them a home and overlook their bladders’ weakness. If no one calls the shelter within a month of publication, the animals are put to a sleep from which no one will wake


Atlas and Alice - Issue 5  

Winter 2015/2016

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