They lived on a quiet street with a tree tunnel. One of the only places she’d been in Texas where you couldn’t see the sky. One of the only houses she and her mom had lived in that was theirs and not some friend of a friend’s who had an extra bedroom. It was on that street that her yellow parakeet, named Tweety, died. It was on that street that she had her first dog, Allen. A Rottweiler-Blue Heeler mix who grew into a brilliant and fiercely loyal best friend. We got him for free from who she now imagines was a drug dealer, named — you guessed it — Allen. She was a very creative namer of pets as a child. It was on that street that she saw her first penis. And another. And another. She doesn’t know why it took her so long to learn to knock on Mom’s door if she needed her after she was supposed to have fallen asleep.
Another school year had come to an end. There she was, bony six-year-old legs up on the dash. Floral biker shorts. A purple tie-dye tee. Four missing front teeth. A glorified bowl cut. Chipped hot pink-painted fingers and toes. There she was. She sat, with the seat belt’s chest strap tucked behind her back, in the passenger seat of their 1985 Subaru station wagon. She and her mom were on another cross-country road trip, running away from their problems. Their barely held together car, so musty they had to keep the windows cracked. Bluish grey strawberry tops peeked out from beneath the floor mat. When it rained, the ceiling leaked — a salivating faucet from which she’d collect pools in her palms.
They’d blare music, while driving in the middle of the night, until the radio it came with was stolen. That was the same night her Playstation was taken, along with the Scooby Doo video game inside — still spinning in place. Years later, she found out that it was Mom’s boyfriend who stole from them. Mom’s boyfriend who she stayed with after she found out he was the one who sold their stuff to the local pawn shop. Mom’s boyfriend who used the money to buy meth. Mom’s boyfriend, now merely debris in an urn. They’d blare music. Windows down. A loose arm out, swimming through the hot Texas air. Locusts humming in the dark. Them, humming in the dark. They never came back from that road trip. They never went back to that street. She started second grade at a new school in a new town in a new state. She still had her dog and her mom and that filthy old car that she sometimes wishes she could ride in just once more.
Savannah Slone is a queer writer, editor, and English professor who currently dwells in the Pacific Northwest. Savannah is the author of An Exhalation of Dead Things (CLASH Books, 2021), Hearing the Underwater (Finishing Line Press, 2019) and This Body is My Own (Ghost City Press, 2019). She enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and discussing intersectional feminism. You can read more of her work at www.savannahslonewriter.com.
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