I drink green tea to pink my yellow fingers while outside the first snowflakes fall like sky scraping suicides, cold and wet with water. They’ll regret it once they hit the crowded cement, I think, strolling through my thoughts, squinting at surrounding violence.
Flower bouquets are pulled from dirt and slashed from their rooted feet by metal knives and shiny scissors before wrapped in plastic and stood in water. In the meat and fish departments of grocery stores, delicatessens and butcheries, hollowed corpses lay open on beds of ice to prolong their destined decay while customers lean over looking and ordering. There is violence in driving past that middle-aged man on Route 5. Thin and sullen, he points his thumb at me while his other wraps around a walking stick. Clean shaven except for his auburn handlebar mustache, he tries to look innocent and clean, but I dismiss him with a look that translates to Sorry but I’m alone and a girl. And girls who are alone are not supposed to pick up middle-aged men in their cars. At the newsstands, black inked papers are reddened with violent pictures, adjectives, casualty counts, tragic automobile accidents and priest pedophiliac convictions. When the headlines do not directly or inappropriately touch us, we tilt our heads and crunch our lips in sympathy for our fellow strangers, blocking potential pain and cold winds by raising our armored elbows and fur-rimmed coats. Then we recycle these newspapers and interactions in guiltless blue bins in the backs of our brains. In the privacy of our cars and kitchens, we consumers consume like we are all dying of imminent starvation. We drink as if face first in the dry dirt of a drought. And when our pants are too tight and our blood pressures warningly high, we blame Clean Plate Clubs, the current economy and diets that start tomorrow, but what is the real benefit of blame? There is violence in blame and in how we fight for excuses like frostbitten, ragged paupers fight for boxes under bridges. Today there are food banks and $1 menus instead of soup kitchens and mom and pop diners. Diet soda and doughnuts have replaced bread and water. Wine and whiskey have been replaced by margaritas and energy drinks. Salty potato soup has been replaced by canned chicken, noodle, bacon stew. Our grocery lists are typed they are so long, yet while we push our deep carts of corn, cows, pigs, chickens, sugar and white flower, there is a Santa Clause impersonator outside ringing a bell for pennies and pocket lint. Where there were once apartment buildings full of extended families swapping books and sharing breakfasts, there are now blocks and blocks and blocks of two bedroom ranch houses, all separated by painted picket fences and drawn blinds. We fight for what we think we want: linear careers, quiet marriages, well-dressed children and yearly vacations to Disney World. We want to kill zombies and animated criminals in bombed out video game cities. We want to watch films where fast car chases leave muscled main characters unbelievably unscathed. We want to play at amusement parks of painted cement and dried vomit, spinning in large teacups and bobbing on plastic pink horses. We want to sit at picnic tables, licking the bottoms of fried chicken buckets and gulping gallons of liquid sugar. We need our eight-passenger sport utility vehicles and nightly pot roast dinners, just as we deserve that hunk of cheesecake for walking to the end of the driveway to retrieve the mail. We deserve to have several spoiled spawns on food stamps, live-in nannies, and free health insurance. We deserve the price of oil to go down even as we press our gas pedals to eighty-four miles an hour and our thermostats to seventy-two degrees before slipping into our thousand-count cotton sheets and duck down comforters.
My sister told me I am too hard on everyone.
This makes me cry on a toilet seat with such a silence, my ribs hurt from pressing out breath. I pull a bloodied tampon out of my insides like the dressing of a wound and squeeze several squares of toilet paper between my fingers before trapping my nose and blowing out mustard yellow flem.
I was sort of sober before this sentence was sent out via email. With only occasional cravings for cups of coffee and red wine, I barely even wanted beer. A cleanse I stumbled upon while in the downward dog yoga position in a steamy studio downtown. After my first class, while my endorphins ran rapidly through the mazes of my veins, browned beverages suddenly looked dirty, not nearly as deliriously delicious as water. Apples, peanut butter, lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots and peppers were all I wanted until the day my sister typed these words to conclude our tediously troubling email chain.
After my tears on the toilet, I sat on the red and blue rug before the fireplace, sipping stout. I watched the froth, the color of old lace, float on my nearly black beer, occasionally adding kindling and pages of the day’s newspaper to the fire. My family has been in a civil war of sorts. We are all right and rightly insulted, if you are curious, but that’s as much as I feel like explaining. Except to say that it has caused me to cry, drink myself drunk by eight o’clock and wish we lived in a village during the Colonial Age when excuses weren’t worth more than the cow shit on the bottom of your boots. A time before computer communication, hydrogenated oils and Genetically Modified Organisms, before Nazis, the KKK and the Columbine School shootings. Unfortunately, before Antibiotics, equality, democracy and cappuccinos, but before the obesity epidemic, chemical pesticides and atomic warfare. Before airports, celebrity gossip and state highway tolls. If we lived back then, our struggles would be avoiding Smallpox and Yellow Fever, growing food on our family farm, cutting firewood and gathering water before the river freezes, not debates over facial expressions, semi-colons and exclamation points.
Life is tangled with violence, with screaming picket lines, credit card fraud, Internet bullies, national debt, atomic bomb scares, artificial food, deforestation and sexually active eighth graders. I fear this country is run by bulimic teenage billionaires, petty politicians and greedy big businessmen. I fear farms, clean air, quiet and trees are nearly extinct. I fear the world will either implode with all the holes we drill into it or explode in an ultimate sacrifice to some religious extremist's God. I fear every grocery store will soon only carry corn, sugar and Tyson chicken products. I fear everything will get so bad, I won't be so hard on everyone, as my sister accuses, because I will have given up on everyone in a submission to blissful ignorance. Worst of all these fears, I fear God, if He hasn't committed suicide yet, will give up on everyone too and while I retreat back to bottles of beer, He will be flooding the world with frogs, blood, boils and rain, starting fresh with ten new commandments, dinosaurs, apes, Adam and Eve.