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I can’t sleep without the pills, the ants scattering my mind won’t let me settle. I try to close my eyes but the pain keeps me wide awake, and I’m forced out of bed. No one out on the streets, just the occasional car traveling over a hundred. They were going to die if they kept that up, but it’s not my place to begin with. The apartment’s cold, I forgot to pay the electric bill again so the heater won’t come on. Besides, it’s too old and clangs a lot, another problem that keeps me awake at night. I want to go outside, smoke a pack and ease through the pain like last night. But I sense it’s going to fight me till I take that stupid pill. Rachel refused to let me leave the house without it, now that she’s gone she doesn’t have a choice. It’s been a lot lonelier since she left, my partner of four years. One day she decided it was enough and she wanted a man, a man. Like I wasn’t enough for her. But again, she was always stuck in that religious loop, and being with a woman was… hard. Out of the fridge, the milk is empty and smelly, I should have thrown it away a week ago but I haven’t been out of the apartment in a couple of days. Maybe for work but that was it, small meetings with editors for my latest book. Does it even matter now, I try to write but it’s shit. They don’t have to tell me I already know it. Rachel knew it, but she pretended for me that she liked it. I know my skills aren’t great and sometimes I spell something wrong. But I try. Unlike others who never even start, I at least start but don’t know how to finish. Maybe that’s why she left, I never made her finish. God, it’s cold outside, even for me just opening the screen door. My legs need to be shaved, should do that but again I’m too tired. I should put something on, I’ve been wearing the same underwear for three days now. I just haven’t finished the laundry yet, which scatters my floor. I can’t even remember what my carpet color is, pale blue? Eggshell white? Who cares it’s not like I’m getting guests any time soon. Though I wish my parents would call me, ever since mom got sick it has been hard to talk. I don’t think they know I moved here. At first, because Rachel wanted to, and we were steady at that time. But I should have told them, they have a right to know. Tomorrow, I’ll do that tomorrow. I can’t stand this cold, but if I go back in I face the same problem, the pill. A tiny bud that just eats at my empty stomach. I want to throw it up every time but it just keeps coming back up like a cruel joke. It’s maybe been ten weeks since I last had it, and a decent meal. I look in the mirror and wonder if I’m really looking at me or a shell of someone I knew. It’s dark to think about that, but that’s what it’s come to. I wish I could say otherwise. It’s a habit now to reach for Pepper’s bowl, she died last week. Had to put her down, but I don’t want to think of that. Nor do I wanna throw away the bowl. Maybe it’s time I go inside, the smoke from my cigarette is as thick as the clouds. It bothers me that I have this habit, but breaking it is like bending titanium. It would have been better if it were another woman. Feels like she didn’t even love me. That gets me thinking if she ever did love me. I wrote a part of her in my book, I wonder if it’s too late to take it out. But I liked what it said, “She was the string that kept me grounded, and I the kite who took her higher.” I surprise myself sometimes, looking back on my life through rose-colored lenses. I wish it was simpler, may be guided by a hand up each step. We aren’t all lucky, those who are should be grateful, but they aren’t. I don’t hate them, but it makes me tired. So tired that I don’t wanna fight them about it. But they blamed me for most of it, I guess that’s why I’m like this. A gay woman, alone taking pills to feel something other than sadness. They line my bathroom counter to remind me of how sick I am. Mentally that is. But I’ve lived with it for twenty-six years, and I’ll be living with it for twenty more. Until I finally give up. I wanna be normal, it sounds nice. Maybe that will give me a fresh start, like cutting off the hair. But I don’t think cutting off mine will help. It’s gotten too long to be cut; besides I like when it touches my back. So smooth, cause that’s the only thing I can take care of. Nine-forty, I should set an alarm to shower. It’s already five, and I’ve slept a total of six hours this week. New record. At least back in the house, I can pretend that it’s ok. Like lay on the couch and pretend that the world is peaceful and that there are no wars. That people don’t die and that I won’t die. If I have kids, which might be never at this rate. I want them to know they were loved. As I’m on my deathbed like I am on this coach. I want them to hold my hand as I tell them I love them, and then pass away. Like I was never here. I think it’s time I take that pill, I won’t sleep if I don’t do it. Just one more hour and then I’ll take it.

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JJ Rogers

Utah '22

I find inspiration in the little things in life.
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