Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.


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She’s got all the lights on. Illumination finds its way into the crevices of plush furniture and into the metal mouth of a half full coke can. It even burns through the thick comforter over her body, making her skin warm to a dusky-rose.

But it’s not enough.

Televisions from three rooms throw their voices past the doors they are behind, disorienting carefully planned sitcom humor to gibberish when they encounter each other. Cliques at a party, she thinks, everyone is talking about something important to them that the audience could care less about. Just talk louder. Someone’s voice will get hoarse first. She even welcomes the abrasive howling for territory that bounces across the lake and splinters into fretful keening on the rocky shores.

It should be enough.

An amber case is hot in her palm, the heat of her skin breaking down the sticky resin that binds oft ignored warnings plastered across it like the ten commandments. She rattles and she counts. The sound of tiny crumbles of chalk whirl and whirl and whirl against one another. There was so much empty space inside, giving room for her to carefully fold her failures into miniscule origami. Pick a number, then pick a color and she can tell you how she let everyone down on that particular day.

Maybe it’s enough.

It occurs to her, even with the light, the sound and the echos of tiny consoling nurses beating the sides of their plastic prisons – that they put ‘Do not operate machinery’ on the medications for dogs. Something’s wrong here. Something doesn’t make any fucking sense. She wonders how she forgot addition, how long division became suspect. It bothers her the way that things fall from her fingers, her grip unsteady and her focus padded firmly in cotton. She remembers when she could hold on, when her strength would pass through her hand and set up a foundation that would last a thousand years. And now everything goes, like the first murder she ever committed when she was not careful enough to hold a quivering juvenile gerbil that sprang to its death from her palm and thrashed brokenly in front of her sandaled feet. It expired regardless of her hope, of her prayers and her determination to nurse it to health.

It’s supposed to be enough.

She rattles it again, remembering the sick glee she once would have had in possession of such. The anxious high of embracing the soothing nurses, letting them lure her somewhere she didn’t have to worry so damn much anymore. It doesn’t matter there what she drops, because her head is too muffled to hear the crash. Her eyes are too glazed to see the destruction. Everything simply slips away and is enveloped in a fate in which she never has to witness. She is above the clouds and cannot even recall how far the plummet is to the ground below.

She wishes it was enough.

Hot shame wets her cheeks and soddens her pillow, sweat crawling across the thin strands of her hair and sticking the untrimmed ends to her tense jaw. The list of her sins numbers with her freckles, tawny fawn spots that resist the stealing of vigor and energy during the winter months. Down here on the soil which has become blanketed in the sweet pungent aroma of fallen leaves that only weeks before fed the monster that mothered them all – she knows that something is grievously wrong. You do not warn canines from operating steel behemoth tractors, and nor do you stay on the ground when everything is perishing around you.

She rattles the case again.

But she knows it will never be enough.

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