“Sunday Smack” by Valda Moore
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.)
This week, Valda Moore wakes up to an unusual day.
This Sunday morning seems different for some reason. I wake up on my own, not jarred from my half sleepiness by loud voices or someone cussing and fighting. I hear Marvin Gaye singing his new song loudly from the living room—“Flying high in the friendly sky, without ever leaving the ground”—and I make the sound of his voice my focus. I look around my room, and I know that everything is okay because my homemade alarm—the chair I have placed against my door—is still intact. I say a silent prayer, thankful that I am able to hear music this morning and that no one bothered me during the night. Yet I cannot shake the feeling that something is a little off.
I pull back the jacket of the Jackson 5’s Third Album that is taped to my wall at eye level and look through the hole that I hammered in the wall behind it—a peephole I use to monitor what’s going on in the living room before I actually step out of my own room. I observe the usual suspects slumped around the living room in various stages of shitty life, drinking stale beer and burning cigarettes in the saucers my mama uses as ashtrays. I see people drooling and nodding. Some are scratching like they haven’t bathed in weeks—mainly because they haven’t bathed in weeks. I hear Marvin Gaye singing: “. . . so stupid minded.” I see my mama checking the pulses of some of the suspects, making sure they are still alive because this is day five of a not-so-usual dope fiend marathon. I start to pray that everyone is still breathing because, if they are not, my mama will surely call me to help her drag the poor, wretched dead out of our apartment. I’ve been doing it all my life, it seems. I see her go through the pockets of those half alive, and then rouse them to leave the apartment if they have no more drugs to share. I shake my head as I gear up to try and make it to the bathroom. I grab the bleach, the Comet, my soap and clean towels, my robe, and my baseball bat—you never know who you might meet in my house. I reflect on the verse of the song that says, I go to the place where danger awaits me and it’s bound to forsake me. I silently pray that it’s not true for me this morning.
As I step out from the semi-safety of my little room, I get a chill—something is definitely not right, not usual, this Sunday morning. I try to change my frame of mind as I walk through the war zone that is my living room. I look at my mama, and she hides her eyes from me, embarrassed. But I always tell her when she is in a sober frame of mind—I am not angry about what she does. It only makes me sad. I continue down the hall, where I clean and use the bathroom.
As I reenter my room, I notice that the feeling of something being different this morning had left me for a second but has now returned. As I dress, I listen to my mama sobbing in the other room while she asks for a bump from one of the wretched seated there with her. As I begin to comb my hair, I hear a soft knock at my door. I hear my dad begin to sing “Happy Birthday” to me, and I start to cry because I forgot it was my birthday. I forgot I was turning sixteen years old today, and for one brief second I thought maybe I was older than sixteen. I felt older. Why is my life like this? I think to myself. As usual, I shake off the self-pity and let my father into my room. He comes in singing off-key and looking like death warmed over. I love every minute of the sincerity I see in his eyes. He opens his hand, and crumbled up in it is a twenty-dollar bill. He shoves it into my hand and closes my hand around it. He tells me he loves me. He looks sad. I am sad, too, because I know he will return in thirty minutes to “borrow” that same twenty from me.
VALDA MOORE is an army veteran and a self-proclaimed Mind Adventurer—sort of like Indiana Jones without actually leaving the house. She is also a patron of the Theater of the Living, where she watches people and writes their stories—in her head.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
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: Oct 2, 2014
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