“The stain will stay.” by Bobbi Lurie
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, Bobbi Lurie struggles with a confession.
I spill coffee on the bed. The white quilt is stained.
How can I fix this? I tiptoe up the stairs to their kitchen, soak a wad of paper towels in the sink. I go back down the stairs, rub the paper towels into the stain. I scrub and scrub. The sun is rising; the stain is not. I lay back down on the bed. Hopelessness.
Coffee mixed with booze at four a.m. Another broken promise, as they say—whoever they are. The they of generalized lies. This life via AA is a fake place selling reveries I don’t believe in. I make my own.
I never had a home.
I look around the den, where they put me on their pullout sofa bed. Everything is immaculate. “Charlie’s a perfectionist,” Ruth told me yesterday. Ruth and I have been friends for years, but we aren’t the type of friends one sees on television. We do not love each other like the friends on Sex and the City, and we aren’t open enough to fight like the friends on Girls.
Should I confess this stain to her?
I decide to ask for some bleach. I’ll say I need it for my blouse. I close the bed and turn it back into a sofa. I fold the quilt, making sure to hide the stain, and place it on the shelf below the table. I get dressed and go upstairs.
Ruth is where she always is: at the computer. She once apologized for never answering my emails. She said she hated being on the Internet. But every morning she is at her computer, writing emails or playing stupid games.
“Hi,” she says, not looking at me. She’s eating a donut. “Do you want a donut and coffee?”
I want more coffee but say no to both because if I say no to the donut only, she’ll think I mean she’s fat and eats crap. Still, I need more coffee. I’ll sneak it when I can.
“Do you have any bleach?” I ask. “My white blouse is stained.”
“Give it to me,” she says. “I’ll wash it.”
“No,” I say. “I’ll do it.” She doesn’t answer.
She brings up an incident from high school. “Remember when we cut class and hid in the bathroom at Albertson’s?”
I know she plans to blame me, to say it was my fault we were kicked out of school.
“I lied about my blouse,” I said. “I spilled coffee on your quilt. Coffee with tequila, in fact. Sorry.”
She runs down to the den, looks at the quilt.
She wants to talk about the time we got caught stealing. When we were eight.
Neither of us can wait for me to leave. My reservation isn’t for two days.
She cannot make eye contact.
Neither can I.
She goes back upstairs.
I stay where I am. In the den.
I pull out the sofa bed.
I cover myself with the coffee-stained quilt, staying under it until I hear the door slam.
BOBBI LURIE is the author of four poetry collections, most recently the morphine poems (Otoliths). Her writing can be found in Fence, New American Writing, the American Poetry Review, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. The beginning chapters of her book on Marcel Duchamp can be found in Berfrois.
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: Aug 14, 2014
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