“Melting” by Sarah Anne Lloyd

Sarah Anne Lloyd

The house is burning down around me and I never wanted to be the mom that tears through my son’s things, covering my tracks as carefully and pathetically as he does after going through my liquor cabinet, but here I am with my hand in his top-right desk drawer being poked by an army of pushpins. Instead of liquor I need to find some Oxy before it’s all glued together by the melting pharmaceutical bottle, and my son doesn’t think I know he has it but I’m desperate, not stupid.

It’s a quick search, even with the house on fire – his room is so clean, probably on purpose to throw me off after he started selling pills, but I’m not fooled, I know they’re here. There’s a picture of his girlfriend above the desk, she has that perfect straight long blond hair they all have and I wish I could but instead I just have this crunchy perm, it’s all I can do that looks composed anymore. I’d better get out of here before it catches fire, I bet it’d light up like a tumbleweed with all that hairspray.

There’s a poster of Beethoven in the den which I bet has already caught fire, but I mean, Beethoven already died, in every picture I see of him it looks like he’s already braced himself, he’ll look stern right until that last cheekbone pixel shrivels over charred drywall. I wonder when I had my last rock poster – did I phase them out one by one or did I get rid of them all at once at some point when this boring stage in my life became concrete? There’s a rap star glaring at me from my son’s wall, as if he’s saying, why do I have to die in suburbia, like he always resented being hung here.

I love this feeling of espionage and I know I always wanted to be this mom, but too bad I have to worry about getting out of the house so I can’t savor this danger-danger feeling. My hand is feeling between the mattress and box spring of the twin bed with my old white comforter my son started using after he made us get rid of his train blanket three years ago and I think, two can play this game, as my fingers close around the target. The pills clamor around on the floor of their bottle in my shaking hand.


Sarah Anne Lloyd was the 2008 editor of Labyrinth. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA.

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