“We Are Not Saints” by Lauren Eyler
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, Lauren Eyler brings us to a meeting of those whose refrain is hello my name is and I am an.
This is axiomatic. This is easy. The hard part comes when you have to say, hello I am an. My name is and I am an. I am alcohol. I am an alcohol named and I am an. Well, we are not Saints.
We came to sit at this table. We came to hear the stories of others like us before we were aware that they were us in different bodies. We did not come when we were young. We were afraid of old men with dry skin and dry hearts, who were meaner versions of our grandfathers. We did not come when we were young because we didn’t have wrinkles and we felt we were allergic to Styrofoam cups and coffee with too much water. But when we came, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, we came knowing we would hear hello my name is and I’m an. The movies and television promised us this.
In this story, we are not Saints. And we are not yet protagonists. We are stock characters, staggering, slurring. We are diluted antagonists, where the alcohol does the acting. We sip and devolve into the first punch, the chain link in car wrecks, a patient for ER residents. When we arrive in the rooms, we are the henchmen to the henchmen waiting in the wings. When we step on the stage we forget our lines.
This is not a story where we confess the exact nature of our wrongs. It’s not about police lights flashing and what they flashed on. This isn’t you have the right to remain, and if you do anything or don’t remain silent, this anything can and will be used against you. This is not about living under a bridge or our spouses leaving us, or our children never speaking to us again. This is not the story where we talk about how two beers make the street lights look a shade darker or how, if you hold a snifter at eye level, tomorrow can look more gold than amber. This is the story about us and how we are not Saints.
We are not Saints, but we are all the same ghosts, sheets soaked in spilled cocktails and dropped nightcaps, six-packs we drank alone and the shots we should have stopped taking at the age of twenty. Well, shots we should have never taken at all.
We all came to sit at this table and we realized that we were the ones meaner than our own grandfathers. That it was our hearts that were suffering droughts. And it wasn’t the coffee we were allergic to, it was the liquor, the beer, the wine. When we came in contact we didn’t break out in hives or rashes. The joke is we broke out in handcuffs.
The moment when it became our turn, the phrase came out of our mouths. We understand now that this too was axiomatic, as axiomatic as our lack of Sainthood. There is a first time when each of us said it. Yes, it begins with I am and sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly it evolves into we.
LAUREN EYLER is from Beverly Home, North Dakota. She received her MFA from the University of South Carolina. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Saint Ann’s Review, r.kv.r.y, and other journals. The primary colors are red, yellow, blue.
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: Feb 13, 2014
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