Traffic Jam Litany By J. Gabriel Scala

December 3, 2015 Comments Off on Traffic Jam Litany By J. Gabriel Scala

In that moment, that brief, illusive moment, you actually allow yourself to think: somebody better be dead because the cars and trucks and exhaust fumes have come to a sudden and complete stop in front of you, and you almost, just barely missing by the skin of your teeth, hit that station wagon full of kids who are now making ugly clown faces in your direction as you pull out your last cigarette from the crumpled pack at your side, throw the snickers bar wrapper out the window, and realize you have to use the bathroom — soon — and so you’ll be even later than you were already going to be meeting your lover at that little restaurant with the red and white checkered plastic table cloths to have that I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry conversation that has had you tied in knots for the past three weeks, that has made breathing an act of sheer will, and he’ll sit on the other side of the table and watch you squirm like your father’s fishing bait, watch the way you twirl a swatch of your hair around and around your finger, trying to keep from biting your nails — which need painting — while shifting too noticeably in your chair and eventually he’ll let you off the hook … he’ll give you permission to breathe again and you’ll call him a son of a bitch under your breath and knock your chair over as you get up, excusing yourself, and practically run to the bathroom where you’ll curse and cry and scream and the old woman coming out of the stall behind you will click her tongue and shake her head and make you feel like a three-year-old having a tantrum in the middle of the Bellevue Baptist Church social where there is little or no mention of Christ or hypocrisy, just talk of lemon meringue pies and kids these days and everyone is looking at you as you exhale loudly, squash out the smoke you have smoked to the butt, raise your middle finger to the horn blowing behind you and notice that the cars are now moving.

© 2015 J. Gabriel Scala

J. Gabriel Scala’s work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Review, Creative Nonfiction, Quarter After Eight, and Sierra Nevada Review, among others. Her chapbook, Twenty Questions for Robbie Dunkle, was awarded the Wick Poetry Prize in 2004. She lives and works in Jackson, TN.


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