• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 12
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She’d lost everything -
her lover,
her family,
her job,
and now her goddamn keys.
She panicked,
her search becoming increasingly frantic.
What the hell was she supposed to do without them?

Her lover had last touched her
with too much gentleness, hesitancy, and sorrow
just there on her tear-stained cheek,
as they’d said goodbye.
The bastard was going to do it in a letter,
but always in the wrong place at the wrong time,
she’d interrupted them.
That touch haunted her,
and it left her angry,
utterly furious that,
out of all the heated, desperate, wanton touches,
all the fiery, lingering caresses,
that cold, distant, and fleeting one
was the one seared so specifically
into her memory.

Having lost her mother and father as a teenager
to too many packs of cigarettes,
she hadn’t last spoken with her remaining family,
so much as fought a raging battle,



over her future
and theirs,
over her brother’s alcoholism,
over her sister’s drug use,
over all the niggling intergenerational traumas
of poverty and prejudice and poor choices
silently passed from one generation to the next
along addiction-prone chromosomes,
and over her mother’s cold and undemonstrative demeanor,
which only she seemed to inherit,
instead of the taste for booze
and for drugs,
her OCD brain opting
for entirely different compulsions instead.

That last job hadn’t been what she’d wanted,
but an important stepping stone to getting it.
She knew she was ill-suited,
too obsessive and compulsive
but she’d enjoyed the problem-solving
and creativity that scientific research entails.
That was what she missed most,
not the rigid expectations
that her perfectionism could not tolerate,
but the intellectuality of it all.  
Now her mind seemed to whither,
to spin aimlessly,
with no great challenge to anchor it,
to tether it to reality.



Now those damned keys . . .
She could have sworn they were in their rightful place  
inside her hot pink purse,
but she neither feels nor sees them
among the chaos so tightly contained.   
That’s what troubles her most -
how often she loses those keys.
It happens at least once a week,
always when she has an angry cab driver waiting.
She searches the kitchen -
not on the counter,
not on the dining table,
not in the fridge or microwave.
Then it’s onto the living room,
where they’re not on the couch or the coffee table.
Time to dump out her distinctive purse,
bought on clearance at Target several years ago,
its vibrant color making it a favorite of everyone
from little girls to old men.   
Her phone buzzes with another call from the impatient cabbie
as she pours everything out onto the kitchen table.  
Nowhere -
that’s where her keys are,
consumed by the ether,
stolen by gnomes.
Her breath saws violently in and out,
in and out,
as she remembers the spare,



and grabbing it,
she hopes like hell she doesn’t lose this, too.