“A Version of Everything” by Kristen Valentine
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
A Version of Everything
by Kristen Valentine
We decided that one thing we could do with the money is buy a house, so we looked at some houses and it was weird and to offset the weird we got tattoos and ended up finding killer tapas at this place in Oak Park and we sat in a booth with wine and olives and baby squid and our forearms were still inky and sheathed in plastic wrap from the tattoo parlor, our new mirror image foxes high-fiving each other when we put our wrists together, and it started to storm and we took turns going to the restroom to do little bumps of coke from the sandwich bag in my purse and we made fun of that Realtor, how she acted like she was doing charity work by letting us in the door of the place on Chicago Avenue, the one by all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, until you told her that we could pay cash if we were interested, and then her whole face closed up for a second while she tried to sort that out, how two punks with pupils like dinner plates came by money like that, but even boring people are greedy and she decided she didn’t care and she got all oh of course sir very good sir I’m sure the current owners would consider replacing that sir if it’s a deal breaker sir I doubt it would be a problem and it wasn’t like we wanted to live there really but it was funny, that you can go from having nothing to having a version of everything and in the restaurant watching sheets of rain sluicing down the window, we were the only people left on the planet and I was so happy but realizing you were happy is like feeling your own heartbeat, that fragile engine, and once you notice you can’t stop noticing and you’re certain it’s about to be over and the next time I went into the bathroom with the sandwich bag, everything got weird again because while I was inhaling a puff from the hollow of my pinkie nail this old woman came out of a stall and stared at me in sheer horror like she’d happened upon me strangling an infant and I just went WHAT and she huffed away and I felt the coke turning black inside this opened up space in my head and when I went out, the old woman pointed me out to the waitress, chubby from free food and buttoned into a too-tight Oxford, and she came over with an embarrassed pinch in her mouth I’m sorry miss but you um well we can’t have illegal activity in the restaurant and it hit me all at once, how it’s impossible to belong anywhere anywhere anywhere except our own bones, our own graves really, especially when there was all that money that we definitely shouldn’t have, waiting for us in the ventilation duct at the airport motel and it had nothing to do with this waitress but I blamed her anyway and I was like fine we’ll leave IMMEDIATELY and WITHOUT PAYING and I was shaking and not even a little happy and you said fuck these people, we can buy this restaurant just to close it down and I said come on what are we even doing we should be laying low right now and you couldn’t really argue with that and we got in a cab and I kept thinking how we used to live life like we were inside some kind of membrane, to protect us from it or it from us and it worked, like the time you wrecked the car and walked away with only a bruise on your collarbone while the car looked like a ball of tinfoil or the time I was so mad at you I swallowed all the Nyquil in the medicine cabinet and lay down on the couch, waiting for you to come back and find me there just dead but instead I woke up four hours later and you were home and watching television, and you never even knew, and we used up all our luck on stupid shit like that so what were we thinking, that we could get away with this, but there in the cab you peeled the plastic off your arm and held your fox up to mine and said high five and I said high five back because what else was I going to say?
KRISTEN VALENTINE is the editor of Betty Fedora, a literary magazine featuring kickass women in crime fiction. She is also the author of the crime novels Gone Cold and The Highest Order of Angels. Her short writing has been featured or is forthcoming in The Bitch Collective, Atticus Review, and Grift. Kristen lives in Columbus, Ohio, and once met Muhammad Ali in the baggage claim area of a regional airport. www.kristenvalentine.net.
Submissions for the Thursdaze series are currently closed. Please visit our submission page for detailed information.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series,Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Nov 19, 2015
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