don't jump! submit instead . . .
DIASPORA
BY JENNA HUMPHREY

My shift is over and I go to the bar. I meant to go home, but sometimes I am not the one who drives. There is a hunger that drives.

I am going to turn onto Broad River to take I-20 but instead I go the other way in the parking lot and then I am at the bar. 

I do not like bars. The cigarette smoke annoys me and also I get the unlucky ones.

The sharks who are out for the blood or the ones who do not speak well. 

This bar, I like. I like it because I sometimes see you there. 

When you do come with Aaron, I have had three beers. (PBR with a limeŚredneck on the beach I say to the bartender and he laughs.) I have also had a slow-sipped Van Gogh Triple Espresso Vodka, which is delicious and cures everything, such as those amber bottles of cocaine salesmen sold from their cars in the twenties.

I go and sit with you and Aaron at the booth. You say that your wisdom teeth have started to splinter.

I think of dreams in which my teeth fall out and I hold them in my hand, frightened, such as those who flee with jewels in their shoes.

You say that you do not have the money to fix them and they hurt. 

I forget about not trying to fix you and suggest dental schools, payment plans.

I make a joke about getting my yearly STD check at the clinic. You know, I have to renew my certification. 

Aaron says that he doesn't have to worry about that because he's never getting laid again.

I tell him Kelly thinks you're cute, and she's a fucking snob. When I was with Wendell, she got so angry that I would sleep with an ugly person. I didn't think he's ugly at all. But anyway, that's actually a pretty nice compliment.

The bar is at the bottom of an outdoor staircase. I take you to the landing outside the door, you, broken-toothed and buzzed. The heart sometimes flees, like a vomit of ice cream.

What do you feel towards me?

Well, I careŚ

You are or you aren't. 

Am what?

You know what.

I'm not. And anyway, this is probably the weirdest conversation I've ever had.

I needed to -- after what happened. It isn't something I do.

Me either. Ever, actually.

I look at you and the tension has slackened out of my shoulders and I smile at your owl face, the glasses too big, the dark hair and the old child eyes.

It is a shame, I say. We could have done better.

I was worried about that.

What, that you wouldn't be able toŚ

Yeah. I usually am.

It's okay. We were drunk. 

We hug and it isn't the longing sort of hug. I have already begun to press your petals into a book.

We are back at the booth. Can I stay with you guys? I don't want to drive to Blythewood.

I'm not staying there, you say. You can sleep in my room

So you're staying with--

Yeah.

Can I borrow your phone?

It rings and Wendell does not answer. I pay my tab quickly and the heart vomit comes again, the black part and I do not say goodbye but you follow me out to my car.

Are you okay to drive?

Fuck you.

I go to Wendell's. I knock on the door. Then I go around to the window and knock again.

Are you alright? I hear. He is young. He is somewhat slight with blonde hair. He is the type you do not notice, not in a crowd, nowhere.

I'm just trying to wake up my friend.

He slams me against the wall. He puts his hand under my skirt and his finger is inside of me and he is hard against my leg. I struggle against him and then it is the blackest part, the part that does not see. Blood is on his finger from the inside of me but it is also his blood, too, and the dark pounding comes until he falls, I don't remember so cannot tell you what I did to him and yet he somehow gets away . 

Wendell's apartment is full of German cockroaches you cannot kill because they live in the pipes so cope and laugh about it. It's like you're giving them sanctuary. Maybe you'll get canonized after the war. I pulled my pants down once and sat on the toilet and a roach jumped onto my thigh -- it gets that bad. 

I start to drive, hoping to find him so I can finish him off. I circle the block and surrounding streets then give up and drive toward the bridge but then I think Jesus, what a lame way to die. I'm going home. I drive out of the city and into the country and I jump the gate because the lock is unbearable when you have started to shake like that and I go inside and I wake up underneath the covers in my jacket and my skirt.

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/jenna.html]

 

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