DRIVE SLOW


Sigrid said she was five minutes away, but that was three cigarettes ago. I didn’t have anything to wear, and so every extra minute of waiting to get the night started was killing me. I pushed my feet into tan cowboy boots and fought the jabbing in my stomach that made me want to cry. Maybe Sigrid was having the same problem. Most of her clothes were in New York— mine underwater. Outside on the porch, I waited. Stared down at the houses located lower in the hills than my father’s apartment. The distinct feeling of being perched rather than tucked down deep made me shiver.

Georgia was cold in the winter. Cold and no water.

I hadn’t ashed the butt or put it out, before I had another cigarette lit. I liked to blame Roxie for my almost pack a day habit. One after another, I had sucked them back out in front of Motel 6 in Houston. Watching more and more people, show up and leave, show-up and leave. Roxie had all the info. Who was giving away what where. Which places had short lines; where if you went, you would punch some white person’s teeth out, so don’t go.

“Girl, this is some fucked up shit, right?” Roxie said one afternoon in Houston. “It’s just starting to sink in that we’re not going back home. Least no time soon.” Roxie shook her head. “Girl, these evil motherfuckers. Those bitches were trying to send my sister and them way to motherfucking Utah. You know we cut up. Then they threaten to put cuffs on me. Like the nerve of us not to want to go separate from one another. How the fuck that go?”

Roxie reached in her bag and gave me two cartons of Kools. I asked her what she wanted in return. The night before that, I had traded packs of socks for cans of green beans and box jambalaya. Before that I traded a dude down the hall from me laundry detergent, razors, coconut oil, and shampoo for some of the tennis shoes he was selling. She left the motel after a week with a voucher from a church and headed to an apartment complex. She wasn’t wasting no time. Roxie knew it all. Corey died in Texas before the month was out. I wondered if she knew that.Roxie didn’t want anything back from me. She said her son had a whole trunk full of cigarettes. Take them. One less thing to worry about for a while.

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