15 By Amber Criswell

August 26, 2013 Comments Off on 15 By Amber Criswell

Strangers clogged the patio, stuffing cigarettes in between planks and breaking chairs. I was five thousand pounds and sat at their feet, searching for an advantage.

“Fifteen,” he declared and held out the baggie.

“I don’t have it.”

All of our purses were in the master bedroom, suffocating in peach and rolling in old. Everyone knew Alicia was in there with one of them and so I pressed my ear to the door and heard noises without continuity. The lock was turned.

My parents would say, “Mary, if you are ever uncomfortable, call us and we will pick you up.”

“Mary, if your friends try to pressure you, just make up an excuse and no one will bother you.”

“Mary, ghosts aren’t real.”

“Marybaby, hold your hat if it’s windy.”

“Mary, it’s fifteen.”

I sucked joints like I devoured chips, like I slurped soda, like I translated glances . . . like I underwhelmed myself. I muttered pulp and told him I didn’t have cash. He said to find some and then find him.

I went into Alicia’s room; where was her purse?  Lane and the cat were sprawled over pillows; her bulbous face cracked a frown. She was sober and I couldn’t handle her spirals. Lane talked at me and my head nodded and my eyes searched her crotch, stained and close. Shelves of stuffed animals and glass rainbows lined the ceiling. The cat, peeing in the corner, stared and charged his lasers. The radical stretches of Lane’s rage contained our friendship. I didn’t like empathy and wanted out.

“Do you have any cash?”

“No, why?”

“I’m going to check on Alicia, I’ll let you know if she’s cool.”

Outside I shook bushes and turned over potted plants, searching for the kid with the baggie. Someone said that Alicia was in the street, trying to skateboard to Mexico. I called at her from the backyard and heard cheers. She hated Mexico the last time we went. I needed her to help me find cash because she was my best friend and I knew her when she still had braces and had memories of her dancing in a nightie while holding a picture of Nick Valensi.

“If you spot me a blotter, I’ll pay you back.” I pointed to the purple cow.

“Do you even know my name?” He crawled back under the deck, collecting our ashes.

I screamed for Alicia, but she was on the roof blowing dandelions and discussing emptiness. Placing my ear to the drain pipe, I heard the whispers.

It’s all about set and setting, she would say.

© 2013 Amber Criswell

Amber Criswell currently resides in Pasadena, Texas. An advocate for literacy, she is a volunteer ABE tutor. She is fond of finding new authors, crafting homemade recipes, and catnaps.

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