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Winter '24

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SAVANNAH GRIPSHOVER

 

it's just that sometimes i still think about that night last november when you planned on driving out to the podunk town made of cemeteries where the mayor is a dog. pills in your pockets and a gas station slushie toxifying your mouth. you really thought you were gonna do it. drive and drive and drive and just when you feared you were going to fall asleep behind the wheel, you'd pull over into the visiting lot of the graveyard and ooze out deep breaths before you fell asleep forever.

but you saw me clamoring through the cornfields like a damn ghoul; killed the brakes and popped open the door––inside, you gathered up the blankets and wrapped them around me, firefighter-kind. you’re cold, you reminded me, in case i didn't know myself. but you still unsheathed the sunroof to let the breeze lick my face because you know i like to be cinematic when i'm insane. we listened to emo music from ohio. you turned the car around.

the belly of your kia smelled like hurl, the hateful luxury of good weed. watching you watch the road, i realized how orgasmic it would feel to crawl out of my skin and into yours. would i be suicidal in your body? would you try to kill me instead?

i guess i didn't know until months afterward that you planned on dying that night. but i'd like to think that your eyes––flat, brown, sad like bad cola––told me something, tried to serenade me and stammered the whole way through.

when you dropped me off at daddy’s house you got out of the car and walked me right to the wink of the window’s light. you stood there like a prom date, the moonlight mystifying the blubber of your baby-face, your hands shaking around invisible flowers. if i kissed you right then, i would've tasted my childhood––literally, no nostalgia-talk, just the pulse of blue raspberry chemicals and the weight of secondhand smoke wrestling with your stained teeth.

that was maybe the prettiest you ever looked. painted silver in the night, lingering in my driveway like you belonged there. i would've invited you inside and let you unzip my skin, let your finger waltz with my uvula. maybe that's why you didn't follow me in. you knew i'd look at you with those eyes, and you knew your hands would be slaves to the naughty atom toying with your tastebuds.

so, joan, i love you, but when i wake up and catch your side profile kissed by sunlight and matted with drool, it reminds me of your face patterned by traffic lights, turned away, eyes steely on the road. so, joan, i love you, i really do, but we're never going to tuck baby’s breath in each other’s wedding bouquets without remembering the stench of the earth after rain, the mud creeping up my legs, the shimmy of the cornstalks in the wind, the flowers left atop tombstones in the town where the mayor is the dog. everything reminds me of that night.

 

i want to love you, joan, i really do––but something about that fragile four-letter word reminds me of how desperate you are to tear the page.

Savannah Gripshover is a writer and student living in Kentucky. Her work has previously appeared in Miniskirt Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Crab Apple Literary.

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