Isaac Bowen CC
1. You hover outside Emma's bedroom door, then peer inside. Her eyes are weighted with dreams. Covered by a war cry of mascara. You reach past the empty bottle of wine, turn off the alarm clock. Then you wrap your sleeping daughter with a blanket. You put on the kettle. Steep green tea. The row of apartment windows facing yours bustle to life. A neighbor opens the curtains and waves hello. Your gaze drifts towards the sky: battleship grey with a threat of drizzle.
2. You wake to Emma standing over you. She's been out all night after sleeping all day. She puts a finger to her lips, twitching like a feral cat. "There's someone in the house." You squeeze her hand and lift the blanket. Emma crawls in, shivering. You remember cradling her when she was little, only this time, the monster isn't under the bed. She'd been doing so well. Therapy. Meetings. Until she met Hunter. You've known your share of Hunters. Emma can't stop shivering. You rock her in your arms.
3. You enter Emma's room and hit the snooze button. Pray today will be a better day. "I'm getting up..." her voice trails off. A photo of her father sits on the nightstand. Tough love is the answer, is what he'd said. Emma is buried beneath an avalanche of comfort. You almost shake her, but you're so damned tired. Tired of doing this alone. Maybe her father is right. You pivot back to bed. The sound of breaking glass rattles you awake. Emma's clearing your dresser with a sweep of her hand. Picture frames and perfume bottles shatter across the floor. Blood flies from her finger, hitting your cheek. She blames you for missing her exam. She blames you for letting yourself go. She blames you for the divorce. She blames you for not listening. She blames and blames until you want to break her. Yet it's you who is breaking. You jump from the bed and grab her by the shoulders. She shrieks until her face turns blue. You shove her out the door.
4. The sun struggles through the clouds. The apartment is still, except for the beeping–the non-stop–beeping. You pound the wall with your fist. "Goddammit, Emma, wake up!" You swear this is it. The pleading, the coaching, the challenging, the shaming, all a waste of time. You trudge past Emma's bedroom door into the hallway bathroom, glance at the Serenity poem taped to the mirror. You throw it in the trash. You rub your temples, then rummage through the medicine cabinet, reaching behind the lavender, the arnica, the CBD. Searching, searching. A bottle of valium falls from the shelf. It skitters across the floor. Open and empty. You kick the bottle, grip the sink and try to breathe past the timebomb that's ticking in your throat.
5. Day turns to night, then back to day. Your eyes feel heavy. You haven't shut them since the ambulance took Emma away. You can still see her lying on the gurney, so fragile, so pale. You open her door and turn off the alarm clock. A scream tears through your ribcage, collapsing your lungs, shredding your tongue. You rifle through her drawers with the hands of an intruder, find the weed she's stolen. Your weed. The guilt you try to hide. You stare. Tempted. Then crush it between your fingers and ransack the room. There are bottles of wine stashed in her hamper, in the closet, and under the bed. You uncork them with precision from your days of waiting tables, and empty the bottles into the toilet, watch the bad blood flush away. Your cell phone is ringing. Emma's face lights up the screen. You ready your heart, and you listen.
Karen Crawford grew up in the vibrant neighborhood of East Harlem in New York City. She currently lives in the City of Angels where she writes to slay demons one word at a time. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Rejection Letters, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Versification, Potato Soup Journal, Sledgehammer Lit, among others. You can find her on twitter @KarenCrawford_
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.