by Samantha Brodsky
2 brave hands to peel away the stiff sheets from the week-old pajamas clinging to your flesh. The striped material—that as you fan past your nose trails the lingering smell of vodka and potato chips—is sprinkled with cookie crumbs the size of small pebbles from the night before. A wince curls your chest over as you study the imprint your body has left in the mattress, a sunken mold like a sorrowful, wingless snow angel.
1 pair of fresh clothes that somehow feels too tight, soiled, and unfamiliar.
1 shot of tequila you’ve measured free-handedly into a Cinderella sippy cup. You take it down straight. The intense bitterness compliments the numb nature you have grown so accustomed to, and you attempt to shake off the shivers shooting up your torso like snaking bolts of electricity. You welcome the warmth into your belly. It’s an old friend, but one you’ve sworn that after today will be one soon forgotten.
Do not mix.
1 mirror to confront your clouded gray eyes that remind you of the echoes of your nightmarish thoughts like polluted puddles. You must tell yourself that the reflection you see through the speckled glass will soon be a mere memory. You must tell yourself that the lurking terrorist sitting cross-legged in the corner of your mind will dissolve into nothingness, but that it will take time. Your trembling fingers weave themselves through your knotted, neglected hair, and the cold water against your face is a reminder that you can still feel. The crispness of its lather will revive your senses and make this day bearable for the most part.
1 lullaby you whisper through tense teeth. You know it all too well. Each lyric lags behind like wisps of smoke, draping the air in thick, black veils. You become a prisoner entangled in this web you yourself have spun.
1 wooden broom to sweep dust along the floor into piles of weightless bunnies. You imagine them hopping about, their padded paws sliding on the tile, their little pink noses fuzzy like the slippers she used to love. You imagine hearing her laughter—oh, what a sound—and this sparks your heart into motion again as if someone has reached through your chest, rhythmically squeezing it like a perfume pump. But then you remember, and it settles back down into its cold, dark stupor. An empty cavity.
Do not mix
1 shot(s) of tequila for the pain.
1 phone call to your ex-husband. “Today’s her birthday,” you say and extend your arm out in front of you as though gloating over a perfect manicure. You study the winding wrinkles that twist around your fingers like vines. You remember the last time you touched her bow-strapped braids. You remember stroking her smooth-as-velvet skin. “Have you drank anything today?” he asks, and when silence bolts your mouth shut, he tells you that he has to go. You try to argue, but no words escape your lips. He is good-as-dead to you, but today you need something, someone.
1 glass of water for your thirst to be happy again. Or as an attempt to erode away the knot that has latched itself so firmly onto your throat. You can’t remember a time when breathing came easy.
Do not mix.
1 trip to the kitchen table where you aimlessly stare at the white walls as if they will share their secret of how they can be so bare, stripped of all spirit, and still manage to stand tall.
1 hour to weep in front of the front door beyond which is a world you’re not quite sure you’re ready for. It’s been almost a full year: four seasons of change, four seasons you have remained unchanged. There will be people who pass you by—most people, that is—who will be blind to your misery. They will stroll around you without the slightest bit of pity toward the vacancy of your mannerisms, the lifelessness of your footsteps. But you soon step out into the sunlight and walk down the street to her old pre-school. And you sit there, on that creaky swing she used to love, watching those precious infants, chubby-cheeked and red-nosed, sauntering through the leaves with a freedom and carelessness you envy. You simply sit there and miss her. And that’s good enough for you. For now.