“Body with Fire” by Laura Didyk, Sharpie on paper, 2015.
See also “Three Moons Over Maple Grove” by Susan Gower
Some days the planet is large as a splinter and Ronnie is gouging through it. She’s sucking down rum and cokes in the tropics and wearing some other girl’s bikini watching the sticky men at the bar with their speculum eyes already examining the prospects. She tromps through three continents in her head. Every photo she is in a bar. Her friend says, “Looks like you never left Toledo,” until she knocks her head when she heaves down the stairs at a party and everyone is speaking Spanish when she wakes up in a hospital.
Ronnie is back on a plane and then she is back on her porch again sucking down wine at noon. Her liver pillows her through another day of the same. Parties on the porch are epic. Anyone walking by is invited up.
One night after dancing with a cop, Ronnie falls backwards down the front steps and hits her head again. Her girlfriend puts her in an ambulance and they cart her away to a place that’s supposed to churn your brain cells back into neighbors and cut back the crust around your internal organs until they are brunching on cucumbers and shaking their thin limbs at what a typhoon looks like on a foundationless house.
When Ronnie gets out of rehab and back home she just about curls up like a hose in the yard and sits with rheumy mud flaps for a face. Minutes crawl over her in horrific ant stings. She scratches blood, sounds jump, and that porch cracks with her into something only mornings remember. Those mornings when the light shines in, lint-splattered, and Ronnie is in her rocker with coffee and vague moons that jostle her waxing and waning memories, just like every crooning moon before them.
There was a time when she could make it to one of those tropical places without taking the white pill and the blue/beige one just to get on the plane.
Ronnie and the porch turn into a still life. A psychiatrist guinea-pigs her with multi-colored medications that red pill her body into some hellish rash. She barfs, retreats inside herself, stops talking to strangers.
How many moons does anyone remember? Tell me you spent a day scrubbing money out of a computer and sucking it in to other peoples’ accounts. Tell me you spent it pulling a mortgage payment through the opening of houses drooling for piles of signatures, loans and down-payments. See yourself sitting on that patio having barbeques and drinking Moscow Mules. Yes, and yes, and yes sell humans cars and clothes and airline tickets so you can turn around and get a car, some clothes, and a trip to remember who you’re supposed to be. Or do you? How else can another day find you if you can’t find yourself in it? It’s a matter of who we are against the force of who we think we are.
So then, about Ronnie? How does she fare? Her girlfriend uncurls her by hiding bottles where Ronnie will find them, under cots and in cut slits of coat pockets. Soon broken men follow Ronnie back up on the porch.
The music kicks up and life reigns itself in again. Ronnie is swinging with a postman.
She and her girlfriend start adding photos to the album again. The neighborhood is raging with people and Ronnie captures each one on her Polaroid camera as they get talked into a drink or six on the porch.
Ronnie takes her pills and then gets on a plane with her girlfriend and lands in a place where it’s necessary to drink as much booze as you can. She finds a wicker rocker and stares out at the whitecaps. She holds her girlfriend’s hand and they smirk at each other. After all, they are back in Toledo and they are both tanked wearing half of the other’s bikini.
Meg Tuite (No One Scars the Same Landscape) is author of a novel-in-stories, Domestic Apparition, a short story collection, Bound By Blue, and won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, as well as five chapbooks of short fiction, flash, and poetic prose. She teaches at Santa Fe Community College, is a senior editor at Connotation Press and (b)OINK lit zine, and editor of eight anthologies. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines, over fifteen anthologies, nominated nine times for the Pushcart Prize, five-time Glimmer Train finalist, shortlisted for Bristol Prize, and Gertrude Stein award finalist. Her blog: http://megtuite.com