He played guitar—but not like my acoustic blonde wood Ibanez, on which I’d clumsily fretted and fingered Stairway to Heaven, sort of, since my May birthday, 14, blonde like his bowl-cut hair swept back in late-90s grunge cool—like a real guitar, Marshall amp fuzz pedal, loud, loud like my want for anything anywhere different than home, and big like pushing 300 pounds big, maybe being with a big boy meant I got to be big, too, fat fingers he burned while refilling lighter fluid, fingers I didn’t care where they went, while we went down highways, my first time in a car with a boy, white Toyota Tercel with acid rock banging a soundtrack, skinny neck banging a rhythm, looking up dizzy and slightly sick to a brief freedom in a town full of small: small circles expanding out to ever-widening small circles, ripples out to Hardee’s next to the Baptist church where they talk about small things and a God they think they can fit in their pockets over Hot Ham ‘N Cheese, ripples out to the pond where I killed that weird fish flopping around at the edges by the cattails, by smashing it with the metal edge of the net, I’m still not sure why; I’ve never seen a sky so low, never seen clouds that color of gray—I want someone with a mind like snow, icecap mountains rivulets of melodies forbidden to me—the only one I respected in that church was the gray hair who once stood up and shouted at the chubby pastor that he didn’t know shit about the Freemasons and he needed to shut the fuck up, in so many words, and I liked him because I wanted to know secrets and shout at the pastor, too, wanted to scream that they didn’t have to make such a big deal out of it when I’d told his daughter I wanted to have sex with Darkwing Duck, because I was eight years old and didn’t have the language capacity for something I didn’t understand, gave supplication and a daily bread, held Mother Goose’s mouth closed while the tape played because she didn’t deserve to speak, either, because I made grandiose statements about things bigger than me, like God, like a church, like they did, didn’t have to shame my little girl legs and little girl arms that once fumbled the offering plate, gold-plated rim around red velvet bowl, turned red velvet flushed when my dad, Deacon Dad, hissed and radiated his embarrassment of me, of a daughter, of a Not Son, breathed fire, You stupid idiot, the same fire his mother breathed to him, abuse stops this train in my own body, jumps these tracks—and it’s no wonder I want a mind full of bees, take what I can get, lap up love spilled by my bedside with the bruises of cirrhosis liver, gaze longer into your face if it’s an abyss, that I want the old man who said no, the fat boy who took up space—it’s no wonder the cicadas call to me, a buzz nothing hum, fuzz amplified across all dimensions and all space and all time, I want it so loud it beats my heart for me, thumps over my rage, static snow through a wah pedal buzzy strains of forget, forget, forget.
Lindsey Novak is a writer who followed the sun west from her native Missouri Ozarks to the dusty Arizona East Valley. She holds an MA in writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches composition at Mesa Community College and online for ASU's Writers' Studio. Her work appears in The Fourth River literary journal, The Rumpus, and is forthcoming in Angel City Review. Her debut chapbook, Echolalia, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.