Sarah Jordan Stout
1. At daycare, B.'s little brother who was my age. He did not know how to fasten his pants back up after the bathroom. He waddled into the playroom, concerned. I looked away out the window. Dirty foods by memory-association: apple juice, cheerios, and hot dogs without the bun.
2. Always my play-friends' little bothers. At R.'s house. I was five and leaving to go home. He was two and busted in naked. This mother laughed at him hugging me— but me, a baby and brother-less, was shocked into red silence. I could not go back to that house which was blue/gray painted wood which was my favorite type of house. I did not tell my mother.
3. At the neighborhood pool. I was seven. He was K.'s stepbrother (back when I think, divorce and remarriage was still new and strange for me). He was six and this was on purpose. We were playing Marco Polo, and he squeezed my butt. The move was too confident and precise to be a blind and desperate gesture. I noticed also that his mother smoked cigarettes. Through naivety and upbringing, I associated the two evils as probably related. No one else I knew smoked besides my Godmother, whom I loved deeply. I did not go to the pool with K. again.
In fifth grade, we had a puppet show to tell us about abuse. We were instructed that if someone touched us in embarrassing places that we should tell an adult we trusted. I burned for days with guilt for not speaking up. And for many years, I worked hard to convince myself that these events never happened.
After The Drunk Sonnets by David Bailey
Several times in New Orleans I drank a lot of wine and rocketed around until one night I stood on my porch stoop and yelled I’M AN ORPHAN to the neighborhood. I am not an orphan but I know now that I was talking about you and even though are my—I can’t even bring myself to say it because “ex-boyfriend” sounds glakdavndkak— I wish, not ALL the time, but I wish that you would be my mother or my father. Baby chicks imprint their parent’s face forever. You are why I talk about chickens at length or anything. Also why I can wear a hat and think of your nose or cross the street and thing of your Peter Pan teeth. In fact, I’ve laid in bed and thought of all my friends you have never met, and really twisted my hands over the possibility you could love one—
For instance, Hannah Margaret, who is sweet and complicated and southern (and I know you like that) and she has never been to New Orleans where you live but I itch for days wondering WHAT IF you two met and you thought she resembled your grandmother and in that resemblance you’d see requited love and I wonder whether or not I should try to keep you apart but if I did that, instead of accepting whatever happens, wouldn’t I be, as the Greeks taught us, sealing an inevitable fate of you two becoming star-crossed lovers somehow while also rendering my conniving self, who tried to thwart destiny, unworthy of your love? These thoughts all happen before you even pick up the FUCKING phone to call me in months and months and months.
So many months, in fact, that I crawl into my friend’s bed (also in New Orleans that sin-y place) and cry has it really been that long?
I would like to drink you until I could almost throw up. That is my version of the perfect future, where I don’t throw up from you like what happened a couple years ago and instead I hold you down and watch you carry a paper bag of groceries and love you for that. Sometimes I sing about Shakespeare and The Orestiea but the subtext is something more like Fuck Baby I Miss You, I Miss You So Hard. I want to master the shit out of Sophocles so you’ll laugh in a kitchen somewhere (preferably with me) BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT STUFF IS CONNECTED.
One night, outside uptown Tipitina’s, I was wiping my drunk mouth on some Spanish moss, “getting some air,” and Jack’s friend’s brother’s girlfriend comes up to me (New Orleans is a small town) and says OH MY GOSH YOU ARE THAT GIRL JACK WAS SO IN LOVE WITH A COUPLE YEARS AGO and I was too drunk to do anything but nod and be all like ooooh But when I replay that scene, which we are all wont to do from time to time, I say YES, AND NOW I’M AN ORPHAN.
I couldn’t believe she got asked.
Round haircut and sea foam gown,
I thought she was a bubble.
Sarah Jordan Stout is a college student from Knoxville, Tennessee who likes to paint her nails, write plays, and look forlorn in public places.