AA, women’s lib, and a weekend by the wayside

She has been sick in bed all day. I climb in with her and her five year old son, happy as she smiles and lightly touches me on the shoulder, I tell her my hidden dreams. She spits water out of her mouth. I catch it with mine and it turns to beer. I become loose fleshed and gray and shift into the basement. My mouth becomes darker and the basement more full of beer. I watch the Quick and the Dead, a DVD found when disassembling my father’s house, and wake up running through streets of ice and slush to the airport runways that end at the river, where the grasses are stiff brown and pressed by clouds of light. The wind speaks from the frozen river. I try to understand what it’s saying but it is too cold to wait.

I bring the boys to the grocery store, gripping their down jackets and pressing them against me, hurrying us through cars and shopping carts. It is just me and her in the car. In between cell phone conversations, she talks faster than I can think, “You should never say that someone hurt your feelings because that means they have power over you. You should say your reaction was that of being hurt. You are responsible for your feelings, no one else is.”

It is night and I stare out the window of Johnny’s Restaurant. My reflection in the glass atop the darkness and water coming over the dam is such that I cannot bear to look at it and eat my fish and chips at the same time. I ride my bike from bar to bar along Route 2 and see my name on TV screens as I play electronic trivia games. I am winning. Someone at the end of the bar says, “Congratulations Amy! Who’s Amy?” I look over at him and he says, “That’s perfect.” The man next to me fishes, “Thought you’d be out with your boyfriend?” I say, “No, letting my youth go to waste,” and ride my bike from bar to bar along Route 2. At the Woodmen’s Grill Men are talking about fishery and the Snake River dams. I tell them not to talk about me that way, as emmaciated musicians look straight ahead and bang their heads against the loose gray air, and young hippies dance in cuffed pants with long blondes. I lay in the snow by some trailer and dream of staying that way forever, but zip my coat and get back on my bike that brings me over hills of ice and honking trucks, to the porch steps of my home, where a giant is smoking, whose waist I hug and say to, “I don’t feel very happy.”

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