Stayin alive

Thanks so much for the love, Speakeasy readers and editors. I really appreciate the win!

I shoved the door way open to fit baby girl’s stroller through and damn it was hot. Hot like you just want to rip all your clothes off and squeeze into the ice cooler at Benny’s. Baby girl was only in a diaper but she started wailing right off with the sun in her eyes and all that heat cooking her.

The heat was nothing to me, not compared to the itching inside and that deep, deep ache knowing what I was about to do. Oh yeah, I knew it, I did. I kind of appreciated the sun and heat, you know? It got my mind off the itching.

We walked real slow to Benny’s, me pushing baby girl’s little stroller without a damn sun shade and her just wailing, crying so much you gotta think she knows where she’s headed. Babies know things, my grandmama used to say.

She was crying so much and sweating too, so she was wet all over like she just had a bath only I knew the truth. When we got to Benny’s, first thing I bought her a juice and stuck a straw inside even though she makes a mess with straws. She grabbed it and started slurping away like she used to do when she was on my tit way back before I got itchy again.

All the time I’m buying her damn juice and sticking that straw in so she can drink it, you know, I’m thinking about Quenty outside, with his bags of junk. I want some so bad, so bad damn it, right here before I go any farther with baby girl. I want it so bad my hands are shaking as I throw down the quarters on the counter for baby girl’s juice. No, I want to rip my fucking shirt off and scratch away the itching. I want to dig my fingernails into my skin until I’m bleeding and everyone is staring at me, even baby girl.

It’s okay. Soon it’ll be better.

Baby girl don’t look up from her juice as I slip Quenty my second to last $20. He slips me the junk and smiles at baby girl. “Hi there, beautiful,” he says all nice to her.

“Shut up, don’t you talk to her,” I swat him off her. It’s a good thing this is the last time.

I start walking again, the stuff in my pocket. Every so often I slip my hand in and run my fingers over it. Knowing it’s there makes it easier. If only I already had it, if only, I think again and again. It would be so easy if I weren’t so damn itchy. It would be so easy if I were already there.

Baby girl finishes her juice and quiets down. She looks real sleepy in her stroller, her eyes half closed against the sun, and so pretty. She’s real pretty, you know? She’s gonna find a new family real easy. They gonna love her better than me.

I see the station coming up ahead and don’t you know those firefighters got a party goin on? They got the hydrants on and water pouring out of the hoses full blast. They got some disco music blaring, talking about stayin alive. Kids everywhere. Being near it makes me want to tear my shirt off again. I want to scratch so bad. I stick my fingers in my pocket instead.

I push baby girl’s stroller right up to the water so she can get some of the spray on her.

“I love you, baby girl,” I kiss her little head. She’s asleep so she don’t have to see me go.

Her new people gonna get her a sun shade.


27 thoughts on “Stayin alive

  1. Wow, this is one of the best things I’ve read for a while. Would love to know what happened at the end! Either still this was an expertly voiced piece. Outstanding. I will be voting for this, that I can assure you!

  2. Aaargh….I hate it when I edit mistakes into my comments! I should of course have said “Even still” not “Either still”

  3. Oh, this is so good, Christi! Your narrator’s voice is superb. I hope she was right about baby girl. Creative, heart-wrenching take on the prompts.

  4. Wow. Your voice throughout this is so good. The way you describe the addiction….and you’re able to make us feel for her and the love she has for her baby. So sad, but so good!

  5. As I read,I became increasingly apprehensive about the fate of the baby girl and at one point I thought ,oh no she is going to sell the baby in return for drugs but thankfully she did not but still it broke my heart to think the baby being abandoned!her in…I so hope that some good people would take Excellent writing Christi-loved it:)

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