I will be the first to confess I have always been a fan of Kristy’s. I was delighted when she won our $500 prize in the Peggy Dobbs Write of Passage contest, and relieved that I was not the judge–she won by popular acclaim. I believe she is destined for greatness, and for this reason we have her magical-realism novella, “CoCo” in our store, to help speed up the process. She cautioned me that this contest entry might be a little too dark. I remind all our readers, we at A Word with You Press are editors, not censors. Too dark? You decide. “Myself, I long for love and light, but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?” (Leonard Cohen, the ballad of Joan of Arc)
Fourth of July, Redux
By Kristy Webster
I’m alone on the Fourth of July. Again. I’m not trapped inside a tower by an evil matriarch or walking the Pacific Crest Trail with a backpack twice my weight. I’m single. I’m that kind of alone. My sons play games, my dog trembles at my feet while two out of my three cats have taken window seats. My 22lb tabby is still at large.
It occurs to me that it’s after ten and I have yet to see a single firework. I head outside with a blanket. I look up at the night stars like jewels, bedazzling the dark sky. I think back to a 4th of July fifteen years ago when I wasn’t alone.
I’d met Kevin at a sports bar in Yakima, only days after being released from a psychiatric ward for a suicide attempt. I’d been spending weekends with my former hospital roomie, Nikki. That night, while Nikki had sex with Kevin’s friend, Kevin and I discussed all the reasons we shouldn’t. One being that he had a girlfriend. The other a combination of our shared damage: he’d overdosed after his wife had left him for another man.
Still, Kevin and I exchanged phone numbers, which lead to our 4th of July date. Kevin stood behind me while we watched the fireworks, his lips on my neck, hands massaging my naked arms. Later in his apartment, a cocktail of Neurontin, beer and tequila swirled in my belly.
Not in my room, he told me.
He spread a blanket out on the living room floor and afterwards, he asked me to leave.
Years later he’d tell me how he always thought of me on the 4th. I didn’t tell him how much I tried not to remember.
Tonight, my wayward cat returns, sits on my lap in my front yard as colors burst, crackle and light up the darkness. When I finally get up, my cat tries to bolt, knowing I’ll bring him inside. We face off: one of us believes love is a prison, the other, a cure-all. Both of us are wrong.