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prissing quietly mother's hair frizzing around own jawline—curse your nose unhooked as glasses slip down. you have been asked to watch your roommate's candle and heart. bat skulls down your drain and the second child goes with them. moving in the first thing hung is the straw cross above the doorway. you make potato soup for two and eat it alone. this lonely place your grandsomethings despised is your six week home & you feel strange sporting their flag at your only graduation, remembering them bullet-bled & constellation covered at the post office. are you what they remember? are you what you remember? things would be easier in two-tone, you think; green and yellow, or green and rust. it is tattooed on your forearm and your genome. maybe GABC doesn’t make you hate black and tan but you curse the name and drink still. anyways, you’re coming to terms with your genetics, that you burn and freckle instead of tan & need to be a little buzzed to like your family, and that you feel incurably out of place here, alone, reviled. you work in a factory like your ancestors post-famine. and as you trip through cobbled streets, cursing the name of every aristocrat and crowned conqueror of this ill-gotten place, you still feel guilty because you don’t want to go home.

i live alone in a first-floor flat in kensington. the construction workers work twelve-hour shifts

outside and yell at each other in a brogue so deep it doesn’t seem like my language at all. i am

afraid of being caught so I am from cork now and struggle not to say it to people who know me. i

am a perfect loner packaged overflowing in a pair of stockings. i didn’t bring my overcoat on the

plane so now I am naked and alone. I hurt in a deep secret place and I swelter on the sidewalk.

I am afraid to show my mother my camera roll. I do not want to leave this place with rushing

trains and buses and the sea an hour away. i cannot write. the art museum is blurry. i wish i

could read braille. the cane sticks out and people make way on the thoroughfare. i miss marx’s

tomb and didn’t piss on margaret thatcher’s. i fear i am fake. i spend my money and sometimes

my father’s. i am alone at a gay bar reading a book about the IRA. i wonder if I actually like

whiskey or if I’m just used to it. I am too cowardly to be a vegetarian. i miss my cereal. I wonder

half-nothings waiting for the subway delayed too long. the only time i feel anything is at a tattoo

parlor. i don’t know if my mother loves me anymore.

Shelby Rice is trying to contact you regarding your car's extended warranty. They read for Oxford University Press and won the Montaine Award for Creative Nonfiction in 2020. They have been published or have work forthcoming in The Foundationalist, American Literary Review, Rejection Letters, Longleaf Review, Okay Donkey and more. Originally from Dayton, Ohio and legally blind (two things unrelated, they think), they recently acquired a cane with a sword inside, and will tell anyone who will listen. You can follow them on twitter at @orcmischief (if you dare).


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