Potluck

 

ON RECESS!

BE BACK SOON!

 

Felicita

No street lamps line the streets of the town. None stands before the grocery store, or the welfare office, or any other before the Peachtree bar and poolhall.

Every turning moment comes back to this one, passing more quickly than the previous. Even on those nights that never seem to end when Felicita finds herself eying the men at the Peachtree to the door of the single-use toilet or wends them in her heels to a trashcan alley and uses her mouth.

Sometimes she is stone drunk when she has to do it.

Other times the men are too drunk or horny to notice or care to be spooked when they grip her between the legs.

And more often she just wakes up exhausted, cold and alone. Rank strands of hair iridescently cling to her forehead like strokes of seaweed to mother of pearl. Bodily she is glowing with night sweat, bedsheet oil, succubus vapor, in the nacreous 4-o-clock dwindling chill above the diner in the hiemal pre-dawn glow of this eastern night amid the sound of the dump- and sump-trucks and the smell of frying food and coffee. In that first instance of getting-up she thinks she is still in the primal cocoon of her sleeping roll in the vinyl nest of the tent at the camp for women, wanting to be lulled back to sleep with the clamoring of pans, woodchopping, water-carrying, before they found her out, before she was removed from the women’s camp.

Standing from the bed, she pulls the nightgown back down around the soft skin yeasty with sleep like just-risen dough and goes to the bathroom urinates then showers her body in the pink shell of cold blue light, the curtain pulled only halfway to, then dries off shivering, lowering and raising, cowering on the flat round mat.

There it was, if only for a brief glance in the mirror, staring her back in the glass, this one, her own.

The wind threatens to shear the open bathroom window from its frame and she closes it. Then dissolving the powder distributed from the Madriola nuclear plant around to the people in the district into half a glass of milk and scraping and clawing on whatever clothes this skirt this shirt still-warm from before the two hours of sleep are at-hand hanging on the drying rack throws on the man’s jacket from the back of the kitchen chair and is out - out! - into the icy street piercing and windwoven with low darting birds and last autumn’s brown faded leaves, sailing plastic garbage bags, bins from tree lawns timbering into sidestreets, banging against treetrunks, imperiling passing cars and the lonely early morning pedestrian traveling toward bus-stops, as the still partly risen sun begins sheaving its rays sidelong into the town turning the furrowed aluminum of house sides brooding against thrown cloud shades thrust zephyr ward, on yet another one of these early spring days racked with windblown trash and felled tree branches, with the oppositely swerving twin forces of traffic jousting one another down the exact equator of town under the bright eye of god.

Today she is off, but goes into the restaurant where her co-waitress Miranda is standing at the counter playing with the top button of her uniform blouse idling through a magazine at the patronless counter shining with disinfectant when Felicita comes in and “I need twenty dollars,” she says, “and a coffee,” crushing her red fakeleather bag on the first seat at the counter - “please,” - and sitting down begins grousing through its contents with her overlong hands and Miranda snaps her gum and fills a mug from under the counter with the carafe says “I haven’t got twenty dollars” and Felicita “How much have you got?” and Miranda skins out of her pocket two bills, a five and a one, and hands them rumpled over to Felicita and Felicita kisses Miranda and puts the money in the pocket of the man’s jacket and drinks her coffee and the doorbell chimes and a patron walks in and over to the counter and sits down and Felicita looking forward not knowing if she has taken this man to the corner of a bar or a grocery store backlot before and she finishes her coffee adjusts her lipstick at the mirror by the door and leaves.

And then is out again pummeling the pavements of these populated streets already sifting with head-lowered workers and appointment-keepers and grocery buyers threading through the windy mid-morning daze of the ascending sun.

She walks to the farm where the man who found and was also kicked out from the women’s camp works shucking pigshit and horse manure from stalls, feeding chicken baling hay splitting wood. He doesn’t see her where she stands watching in the open door of the barn his swooping back as he shovels with a pitchfork in the hay. After he sees her they wordlessly ascend to the hayloft and come back down he’s buckling his pants she’s pulling straw from her hair and putting her boots back on and he goes back to work. She watches for five ten minutes then leaves, back the way she came, towards chiller climes, she is going and not looking back, only maybe once though possibly just fixing her hair, deserter, pulling at her skirt and then is one jot dissolving into that finely-drawn stripe of muddy unglowing horizon, once more, into this other night, another dawn, a midway borealis, of anesthetic calm and marooning passed the plastics factory towards town, she goes, cast off castaway.

***

Quinn Hull was born in Cleveland, OH.  He attended Kent State University and acquired an undergraduate degree in English and a Master's of Library and Information Science.  During his time as a student he travelled and helped start the short-lived publication Flyover Country Review in Kent, Ohio. He has previously been published in Kent State's literary magazine Luna Negra, the online publication Hobo Pancakes, and Aries: A Journal of Art and Literature. The writer lives in South Euclid, OH with his parents and their five cats.  He works in a library.  He is 27.