Post Road Magazine #7

Untitled as of Yet by Sarah Nankin

My mother says don't let the cigarette hang out your mouth it looks cheap. She says lots of things look cheap: cigarette burns, tight blue sweaters, coming home in the same outfit you left in the night before.

She can never wait to be herself. She's always bleaching her lion's mane and giving me her empty bottles. Underneath the flickering bathroom light, with a halo of smoke and gnats around her head, a bare naked bulb is crusted in dust making us look gray. Nobody wants to look at themselves in a gray dusty lightbulb. My mother calls bright lights divorce lights. If yer husband saw what you looked like in em he'd divorce ya.

I think Tiny's a queer she says. He just don't look right his head always falling back and forth. What woman would want him no money no teeth no brain plus he's filthy and how long he gonna live all up in that little room with Rocky? Those men have rocks in their heads. I tell her there is a difference between rocks and being drunk all the time. How can they be queers ma when they can't even get it up? Shut up she says what do you know about it.

I know things in my head. Tiny always comes to fix things and drink my mom's beer. His eyes are all over and she laughs from a low place that echoes ugly in my ribs. I know that when she leans down real low with her cigarette dangling and her bad beer breath swirling Tiny's eyes are climbing the wrong wall. Her eyes spit daggers at me while her mouth gets real tight and she tells him I got nothing to climb, but I know his eyes are diggin' in sharp like the dog's teeth.

Her roots are disappearing and I bet she feels like a whole new person now. A whole new person in the same tight blue stretchy pants and t-shirt that has a pink bear saying I love Virginia Beary Beary Much on it. The bear has a rip across one of its googley eyes and it looks retarded. If she had a husband he'd divorce her. Anyways she's not so new cause we are still sitting here in the bathroom, not somewhere else.

More bleach and then more. I'm sitting on the toilet kicking the base one tap two tap three tap will you please just shut the fuck up with that tapping please I am trying to concentrate. I hold the empty toilet paper tube up to my eye. She looks a lot smaller through one eye. Her voice is still big.

Come here make sure I got it all. She lowers her head and makes me check for blank spots. The smell of bleach burns my nose and I know I am going to cough right on her head. Goddamn you go outside I can do this myself.

Who taught you to cough on someone's head anyways? Go to Tiny's and play with the dogs or something. I think of Tiny's doughy hand poking me in the chest over and over and his whiny ugly wheezy laughing. I think maybe sometimes Tiny isn't queer so I get my bike instead.

I ride around in circles stiffening up my muscles. My back is straight and my chest is stickin out. There's nothing there, but my mother says do it anyways. I will be prepared. Be prepared for what? When she looks at me with her mouth shut tight I think I know •

Sarah Nankin attends New School University. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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