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Oranges in the Passenger Seat
i look at where the light used to be on. i imagine the stairs, the open door, the shoes off at the open door. the odd light that wasn’t bright enough, the bed so low to the floor where we sat sometimes while we worked in easy silence.

hair hitting the pillow and something fresh hitting the floor.

losing you on repeat. the joy of a voice alone in a bedroom.

you leave the orchid in the freezer on a bed of ice for a week. when i open the door the cold air seeps out and looks something like heaven. a week later you accidentally drop the frozen flower on the linoleum floor, and it shatters like porcelain.

the bedroom to the left. The bedroom that used to be just an air mattress, the bedroom where i cried and cried and the apartment where our voices haven’t echoed off the walls the same way since. playing cards on the floor because there’s no table. chinese food on the floor because the entire family is here. knees on the floor because we both know that’s how to pay respect.

home with you on repeat. you’re sick in bed again, i leave on one light and sit near the bed because that’s what she taught me. I am here but wishing again. I am here but listening again, looking at the moonlight pouring through the window again.

blue. a room on the seventh floor where you can only see the sky and the very tops of buildings, a room on the second floor where in darkness i always ask you to lock it again, light pouring through the window like a spotlight onto soft flesh and careful whispers.

in a white bathtub i said i never had stories. in an apartment on the outskirts of town all i saw was myself, reciting a prayer book every night. a story is a story until it’s your god.

i know your gods do nothing for me but i eat the soup you make anyway. washing hands over and over like she told you. i look at my body like a table to be set for dinner. i wonder what it will be paired with, whether people will use the correct cutlery for the appropriate dish. 

i look in the mirror and see dishes in the sink waiting to be scrubbed clean, everything must be done by hand. you are humming to a song that isn’t playing, your mother stands silent next to you. she hasn’t looked at your handiwork but you know she thinks you have done it wrong, have not cared for the forks and soup spoons correctly, have not put the plates and bowls away in the right places. 

you learn to find peace in the silence. care in the silence, ritual in the sacred silence. in repetition there is forgetting, but you know the stories are yours. take them, swallow them, lay them down, a blanket over the prayers.

calm like peeling oranges in the passenger seat. you have one hand on the wheel and the window down, hair protesting and us laughing. 

i listen to the song and i think for the first time it’s about me.

 
Rey Carlson is a graphic design student in Richmond, VA. They can be found on social media @reycarlson or on their website.
Art used in this issue: “Oranges” by Rey Carlson
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