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THE OUTHOUSE Amy Johnson

Surrounded by family and urine-stained mattresses, I opened my salt-caked eyes to frigid blackness. At five years old, I laid still as I breathed in the winter air that froze the stench of sweat and lamp oil in my nostrils. Our makeshift beds sprawled across the floor of our 900-square-foot shack of a home in Bishopville, SC, halfway between my hometown and my mom’s new job. Leaving the cocoon of my sleeping bag, I stepped over my brother’s head to get to my father. “I have to go,” I told him, tugging on his once-white T-shirt, now yellowed with the labors of “a man’s work.” My father’s sigh reeked of his friends, Bud and Joe, who had long overstayed their welcome. They’d stuck around from my dad’s college days, Mom said. He had me help him up; I used every bit of my strength to get him off his cot, a relic of his glory days in the Marines. After untying the door lock from its broken hinge, we trudged barefoot through the stagnant dishwater that had been poured out after dinner. My skinned knees tightened with each step over roots and broken glass. Finally, I made it to the cracked seat over a shallow hole in the ground. When I was done, I asked my father what to do. “Just cover it,” he exhaled, as if it were an answer I should already know.

Profile for Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

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