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By Mike Murphy

graphic artwork

Winner of the Trinity Term 2023 ORB short fiction prize judged by Ayşegül Savaş.

Back home, C.D. stepped across the Welcome mat. “Why aren’t you where you’re supposed to be?” Manny said from the other room. He projected and enunciated as if he were being recorded. “Enough, Manny,”she hollered back. The world of the old kitchen surrounded her: paisley wallpaper, oven mitts with her first name on them, pots hanging from the plastic kitchenettes, wainscot walls missing paint, and a mashed plantain left smeared on the eating plate of the baby chair.At the sound of C.D.’s shitkickers clomping up the porch stairs, Adrienne must have been unbuckled from the chair and swept out of the room. She stood there taking in the domestic mess, reminded of why she’d left ambivalently with police the day before. On the kitchen’s freestanding stove, a cataplanapiped out the steam vent into the dry air. C.D. took off the lid and let the steam hit her face.

It was her dad’s recipe. Most things in this apartment had been his. “I’m grabbing my Nalgene, Manny. I need it at the house,” she enunciated.

“You need to be there now.” Enough, Manny. She couldn’t help but run insults towards Manny through her mind. Typical kind of things from her rattiest self: “tool,” “puss,” “simp.” A bottle of Borba from underneath the sink tapped lightly on the plumbing, and she winced, before babying it into her canvas bag. Her septum ring jangled freely in the giant hole in her nose, blasted out from blowing drugs. “Cut the clams before you feed them to Adrienne,” C.D. told the empty-looking apartment to no answer. She put her bag down and ladled a full liter of the fish stew into her Nalgene.

“The house isn’t serving anything pesca so I’m taking some,”she said. “You should take Adrienne to see my mom. She got her an Easter stocking.” “How do you know what your mother’s got?” Manny asked.“Were you down there today?” But C.D. was gone. Outside, down the helix steps that connected the porches, she stopped at the second floor apartment. A bottle of vodka sat in the freezer here, she knew. The door with the loose knob was locked, and a face like Manny’s appeared in the glass. “No, C.D.,” Mrs. Santos shouted from behind the door. “Listen to my son.”

“You saw him grab me yesterday. Where’s he going for that, Andrea?” “He was saving his daughter from you,” Roberta Santos said to C.D.’s worn, red face through the glass.

“Again you were drunk on the roof with her.” “I was showing her something.” “What’s that? Showing her what?”

“The Atlantic Ocean, Roberta.” She turned around on the deck and sensed all the invisible eyes and ears of Goat Hill in the surrounding windows. It is what it is. I tried, she thought. He wanted to feed her formula. He wanted to sleep-train her. He wants to dress her in bows and hand her to his parents whenever they knock on the door. They can knock themselves out. Powerlines, gables and chimneys tumbled down to the ocean. The North Cove Sober House was somewhere to her left, set deep in a honeycomb of multi-unit homes.The smell of laundry vents and seaweed, siamese junction boxes in the basements, windows that looked into windows. Her own mother’s shaker-shingled cottage was at the bottom of the hill, nearly touching the seawall. The sun was halfway in the water. C.D. looked back. The dark, broad-shouldered Manny was standing with Adrienne in the widow’s watch of their tall pink apartment house that looked like a wedding cake.


She actually had no intention of drinking the alcohol in her canvas bag but it met an emotional demand, like wearing a cyanide necklace into battle.

She walked up the North Cove house’s brick portico. A Yankee Candlehad burned down to the glass in the house’s foyer. Surrounded by swirling damask wallpaper, a group of women buzzed in a circle of living room couches. A radiator clanked. Suggestions of the house hung around the room on ancient-looking blue banners. Ask God to remove your defects of character, for example. The women nodded and smiled at her. “Jesus Christ,” C.D. said on her way to the second floor. Her single room was at the end of the hallway, and she slowed at the top of the stairs. The feeling came on, again, that a monster could be waiting in there for her. Sure enough, a large man with black quaff stood in the gabled room, looking out her front window. He might have just watched C.D. put the canvas bag in the bushes. The man recoiled his neck to avoid banging his head against the eaves when he turned around. It was Sin Daddy. A simple joy, entirely inconsistent with her day so far, warmed her shaking body.

Sinner,” she hugged him. He was from a time when the party life was still fun. She didn’t want to let go, but he started to laugh at her unrelenting squeeze. Someone must have taken him on a shopping spree at Marshall’s, because a size sticker still clung to the leg of his fresh flannel shirt. “It’s freezing here,” he said. “I’ve been in Florida.”

“O.C.’s?” “Obama’s trying to kill us,” Sin Daddy said. If he’d been in Florida, his pale skin said he’d been indoors the whole time. “These new gel pills are supposed to be uncrushable, you know? But you just cook them a little. If I’m cooking something, I’m booting it. Right?” She hugged him, again. The insanity that permeated off him put her at ease. “My husband threw me out of the apartment,” she said. “I’m gonna press charges on him.” “Physically threw?” “Away from Adrienne. The whole Santos family is cahooting against me.” “And your mom is sick, honey?” C.D. nodded. Sin Daddy was stroking her hair now. “Lung cancer? Is she still living in the cottage?” He asked. “Don’t worry where she is,” C.D. said. The magic had worn off. She gave him a suspicious side eye. “She’s got no pills.” “She has something.” In the window, the lights of the seaport blinked under a blanket of cold Spring smoke.

Candance Devereaux,” a voice hollered down the hall. Who was calling her by her mother’s maiden name? Margaret, the house manager with a B-52 hair, appeared in the doorway. “What are you two doing in here?” “What?” C.D. asked. “Answer the question.” C.D. and Sin Daddy could smell an indictment. “Margaret,” C.D. started.

“What is Matthew Saint-Pierre doing assigned to my room? How am I supposed to get clean here?” “If they hadn’t told me this room was empty,” Sin Daddy said. “I wouldn’t have taken it.”

“You told him my room was empty?” C.D. asked. “Matthew was told very clearly that the men sleep on the third floor.”

“The men are a drag,” he said. C.D. pointed to her old swim bag thrown in the corner. It read North Cove Pirates written across the sides. She’d removed nothing from it since she arrived. “That’s me, Margaret. This is my room.”

“Were you on the swim team?” “Yeah. Captain.” “Candy Da Silva,” Margaret said. Sin Daddy wriggled out past Margaret before she could square herself in the doorframe.

“We got a call that you snuck down to your mother’s.” “She’s dying. She’s going to be dead. “She called,”Margaret said. “She’s missing some medication, Candace.”

While Margaret shoved a complimentary copy of Living Sober into the swim bag, C.D. pretended to look pensive out the window at the black ocean. “This isn’t you, Candace. I remember you swimming with my son.” C.D. pulverised a methylphenidate between her shaking thumb and forefinger, then rubbed the powder into her gums. By the time she walked downstairs, the other residents of the North Cove house were gathered in the kitchen cooking dinner together. Sin Daddy stood at the stove wearing a chef’s hat, lethargically stirring garlic cream sauce into a pot of mussels. “Jesus, that doesn’t look so bad,” C.D. said, grinning with needle pin eyes. She grabbed a mug from the sink and held it out for him to fill for the road. In return, he held out a cupped hand, making a concave shape for her to place a pill. C.D. looked at the hand. “Not an even trade, boo,” C.D. said. She kissed him on the cheek and smelled the pot by way of goodbye. “Find me if you get out of here, though.” Reunited with the bag of alcohol and thermos of fish, things were all wrong in that moment and for that reason they felt right. She drank a nip of Rubinoff, chased it with the Borba. Her mother called the sober house on her. Flo had never concerned herself with her daughter like that, and the effort warmed C.D. a little, as she moved through the town’s labyrinth of alleyways. She was halfway to nowhere when a message buzzed her phone. It was from an unknown number and included a picture of her in her early twenties: lit cigarette in her nose, a can of Sparks malt-liquor, middle fingers up, gnashed teeth, in a North Cove Pirates hoodie and septum bull ring.

“Ber-zerk-her,” the accompanying message read. Another picture of her on all fours, licking the putrid deck of a fish dock with a sleeveless Sin Daddy flexing his biceps. A giant blood moon sat in the background of the photo. “Glory days. Living vicariously through our younger selves. Love you - Sinner.” The pictures were the push she both feared and welcomed. C.D. turned down a street towards the backside of Goat Hill and knew that she’d be drunk by the time she got there, ready to snort a low-key speedball of methylphenidate, lorazepam, and whatever else, for starters.


Morning, the sun rose a blistering pink over a screen of willow trees occupying the northeast side of the harbour. C.D. woke up sea-level down in her mother’s driveway. Dirty seagulls flapped around her face. When she opened her eyes, she was standing with her feet in the gravel. Her head rested on the roof of the old Jaguar like a giant pillow. The steel roof was cold with dew. Vomit had dried down the driver’s side window. An open loaf of Hawaiian bread lay next to her head. She’d lost her hoodie and her swim bag. Her arms were tucked in her t-shirt. Her hands had found warmth shoved down the front of her jeans. She flailed away from the seagulls and fell to the gravel. Her aunt Snoopy’s SUV sat parked next to the Jaguar. Snoopy stood in the front sidelight window of the cottage, watching C.D.’s armless body flop between the two vehicles. All the indoor lights were already on when C.D. entered the kitchen through the sunroom.

“Here comes helter-skelter,” Snoopy said. 72 years old, retired from the local fish factory, Snoopy poured herself an Americano. “You look like you need shock-therapy.”

“Why didn’t you wake me up out there?” “Ha!” Snoopy laughed. “Sorry, Candy girl. I didn’t have my ten-foot pole handy.”

C.D.put the loaf of bread on the kitchen counter, and Snoopy watched her take the steep, splintered steps up to her old room. She threw her wet t-shirt and jeans on the pine floor of her room, where the wood sucked the moisture from them. The floor was as dry as a hornet’s nest. This whole home could suck the moisture out of anyone, she thought. Austere, lacking humanity and colour. Ever since her dad left when she was finishing high school, it had become her mother’s. In the bathroom, all the glaze and weather-stripping had worn off the windows, so morning air, a deceptively sharp Spring cold that got its teeth around your thinnest bones, then flowed through.

“Creature comforts are for creatures,” her mother had always said. “And Mediterranean's.” “Portugal is on the Atlantic,” Candace would argue. The shower was hot. She shaved her legs. Once C.D. allowed herself to shiver, she couldn’t stop. She applied an old stick of Degree until it smelled strong as musty perfume and pushed her big dark hair to the side with a wooden paddle brush. She rubbed Vaseline-brand moisturiser into her puffy face. In the guest room, a dresser was full of Flo’s old summer and spring wear. When she looked at herself in the mirror wearing an oxford shirt, khakis and boat shoes, she paused. It had been over fifteen years since she’d dressed like a wasp. She slowly opened the door to her mother’s room on the first floor. Flo laid in bed with the shades up. Pink flowers covered her white cotton pyjamas. Her delicate wrist bent sideways as she brushed her frail hair with a comb. She was the proud, stubborn type. She would not let anyone moisturise her arms even as they flaked away from liquid radiation. Snoopy would moisturise them only when Flo slept, or pretended to sleep. It would have been appropriate for a palliative care nurse to be present every day at that point, but Flo preferred telling her sister-in-law what to do as opposed to a professional who already knows. “There’s my daughter,” Flo said when C.D. appeared in the room. “When was the last time I got you in an oxford shirt? You were a baby. I’d dress you like you were headed to Exeter.” A bone-rattling cough took over her mother’s body, opening up her pyjamas and exposing the gaunt white sternum. Like a spasm, C.D. turned around, made for the bathroom and vomited in the sink. When Snoopy walked in, she had her head in a cabinet, searching for the alcoholic Listerine. “I really need something, Snoopy,” C.D. said. Her aunt pulled out a 100 length menthol cigarette. “Manny came down yesterday.” “Yeah I told him to for Adrienne’s Easter stocking.” “No. He came down by himself,” Snoopy said. She handed C.D. two pieces of paper. “Order of no contact, Candy girl.” The document was titled, “Complaint for Protection from Abuse.” The first sheet listed C.D. as the defendant, her identifying information. The second sheet, all of Adrienne’s information. “I don’t need an order of protection to stay away from them. That whole family is tapped. They’re so… oppressive. I can’t even breathe up there.” Snoopy also handed her a bottle of Antabuse.

“Get on these,” she said. “I won’t tell the Santoses you relapsed.” Like any pill someone handed her, C.D. popped two Antabuses immediately.

“What do they do?” “They help you not drink.”

“Do they work?” “Like a gun to your head. Here,” Snoopy said. She handed her one of Flo’s Lorazepam. It felt like a single piece of rice to C.D. “You need to hit me again with that Lorazapamif I’m gonna make it through today.”

Her aunt handed her the bottle and busied herself at the kitchen sink.


After some time, over-caffeinated, sober, and experiencing the acute need to do something other than pace the cottage and smoke cigarettes on the seawall, C.D. accepted there may be a point to her being here. With Snoopy handling all the grommet work, she didn’t know what, but she’d seen enough movies to understand a family tends to stay present during the end of a terminal illness. She walked down into the carpeted basement to Flo’s office. Organised, easily accessible, here was the information on her mom’s life insurance, a property in Charleston Flo owned with some cousins, and a Roth IRA from Flo’s grandfather. C.D. would inherit close to two million. The sale of the cottage would bring in an additional $750,000. The Antabuse became routine. The smell of the citrus deodorizer sponges was sharper than before, casting a heavier mask over the real smell of the house. On an afternoon in mid-April, C.D. sat next to Flo as she slept, the sunroom door creaked open, and then someone walked across the kitchen floor wearing heavy boots. She left the bedroom to see who it was. Sin Daddy appeared sitting on the divan in the living room. “Your friend is here. Looking like a dead skate,” Snoopy said, washing a cereal bowl in the sink. “I feel like a funeral director.” Sin Daddy leaned on the arm of the divan. He sat with his long legs crossed and hands in his lap the way you’d sit in a waiting room, though he didn’t attempt to read the issues of Town and Country on the coffee table. He reeked badly of cigarettes. He still wore the new flannel under layers of many other long-sleeved shirts, and still he looked to be both freezing and hot. His skin was pockier and paler than the last time C.D. saw him.

“What happened?” C.D. asked, standing over him. “I’m at my brother’s,” Sin Daddy said. “I tried.” A scream came from Flo’s room, and C.D. rushed to it. She was calling out for help, looking around the room through the sides of her eyes, before abruptly falling back asleep when C.D. entered the room. The daughter adjusted the blankets to cover her mom, when the floor creaked behind her. Sin Daddy was rifling through the pills on Flo’s dresser. He dashed into the hallway and locked himself in the bathroom. The muscles in C.D.’s back and legs felt activated, like they hadn’tbeen in seven years, waiting outside the bathroom door for the tall fiend to reappear. Raw adrenaline ran through her. She was not the slouching, scraping animal everyone had come to see her as around town. She was becoming something else, returning to an earlier form of herself. Sin Daddy threw up his hands when he opened the door and emerged as if C.D. had him at knifepoint. She steadily walked him out.

“Jesus, aggro girl.” Stopped dead in the kitchen, having inhaled slugs of Hydrocodone, he had to brace himself on the marble counter. C.D. brought him out to the sunroom by his collars. “Don’t come here again,” C.D. said. “But you can do whatever you want here.”

“I’m busy. I want to be busy.” “You told me to find you.”

“I’m sorry.” “All I want is dope.” “You don’t mean that.”

Sin Daddy’s eyes rolled back. He looked like he could no longer talk.

“I do,” he managed to say before C.D. walked him outside. She watched him idle away on a moped at about 4 miles per hour down the sidewalk towards the fish gutting docks. With the list of medications that Snoopy had magnetted to the refrigerator, she cross checked Flo’s pill bottles. The floorboards creaked under her feet as she stood there going through the almost two dozen prescriptions. She had given up only three of the Hydrocodone. Everything else on the dresser remained in order. “God damnit,” Flo yelled at C.D. with her eyes still closed. She had a gift for appearing comatose, then suddenly coming alive. “Snoopy, can your ass be any fatter?” C.D. paused, and Flo opened her eyes. “Oh. I thought you were your aunt.” “You talk to Snoopy like that?” She asked.

“Well, she’s obese.” “So?” “And she’s not bright,” Flo said. “That whole side of your family is like that.”

“Dad was smart.” “Was he smart, Candace? Did he do smart things?” “I’ve memorised your life proxy form. So I’ll be ready.” “That’s all formality. If I actually thought you’d have to do anything, I’d be worried,” Flo said. “I intend to be in the south of France 6 months from now.” “So why did you call the sober house for me?” “I didn’t call any sober house,” Flo said. “If you’re so on the ball, why has no child picked up that Easter stocking?” That evening, C.D. sat in the bay windows of the living room. It was middle tide. In the center of the harbour, the top half of Nautilus rock was visible. It was a dome-like island of brown granite. She remembered how her father would take her there. They’d jump off the seawall, swim out a hundred yards and sit on the rock dripping with cold water. “Next stop Portugal,” her dad used to say, shivering. He’d believed they were at the same latitude as Lisbon and if you swam long enough you’d end up on the shores of the city. It was as easy as that. “You step out of the water and they hand you a lemonade. I’ll be out hauling traps, and I’ll see deer just going. Headed for the Azores. And you can’t stop them. You just let them go. Because the look on their face- they’re on their way.” In spite of everything, in spite of how easy he’d always made it sound, she never thought he’d actually go.


Flo called out for God every night in her last days, and C.D. would sit awake in the bay windows watching the quartz sparkle in the moon. The new palliative care nurse would arrive in the morning. Then Snoopy would be right behind her. No one had asked Snoopy to keep coming, but she was there now exclusively for C.D. “You need new duds,” she told C.D. handing her the day’s Antabuse. Sitting in the passenger seat of Snoopy’s SUV, circling the town of North Cove, sharing cigarettes, listening to the J. Geils band, sharing good memories, through the woods, along the shore. Out of compulsion one afternoon, C.D. jumped off the seawall and began swimming. The water was cold from six months of winter, and she kept her head above it, throwing her arms wildly one after the other. When she reached Nautilus rock, her body convulsed from the cold. Every time she felt like she might be warm enough to sit and look at the open ocean, the cold doubled down, seized her lungs, and she was by herself on the granite scraping for air. She clenched her fists. Like a weight she was lifting off the ground, she pulled the air into her lungs until she was breathing. Pulled down her fists, opened her lungs, until she sat by herself, muscling in the warmth.

When the time came for C.D. to stand at Flo’s bedside in the hospital, it felt better than she thought it would. Flo’s things sat on a chair in a valise. A novel, sweaters, jewellery, and a sketchpad, the bag’s contents made it seem like Flo could suddenly get up, go downstairs and doodle down at the hospital’s first floor cafe. “Can you hear me, Flo?” A blonde-haired nurse asked. He had a clipboard and introduced himself as “Jimmy.” “I was talking to the doctor. It appears you are in a tough situation.” Flo looked at him through the sides of her eyes. “The pneumonia along with the emphysema and lung cancer is creating a very difficult time for you,” he said. “We can only offer some steroids to see if that keeps you going for the pneumonia to clear.” “Keeps her going?” C.D. asked.

“Alive.” “She has every life-saving option checked off on her proxy form.” “And we’ve done the diuretic to flush her kidneys twice. We don’t think she could handle it a third time.” “She’ll do the steroids,” C.D. said. Flo’s breathing strained her whole body. “What’s with her breathing?” “That’s air hunger,” Jimmy said. “The body spasms when it feels like it can’t get enough oxygen.” “What can you do?” “I can get her some more Ativan.”

“Lorazepam?” “Yes. Based on observations, you want to be leading with comfort right now.”

“Then we should be in hospice. Are we in hospice?” “No. You are not in hospice.” “Hospice would give her a whole new level of comfort, right?” C.D. looked at Flo. Her sternum looked weak enough to break from the air hunger.She was the embodiment of some supreme anxiety, whose end had only one solution. Flo lurched up and swung herself over the bed rails, she ripped an IV from her arm. Her daughter caught her. “Where am I?” she asked.

“In the hospital, mom.” “Oh. I’m still here,” Flo said.

“Are you choking?”

“Choking? No.”

“Get it together. You have options.”

She fell back asleep. After C.D. signed the forms to officially place Flo into hospice, Jimmy wheeled in a plastic lock box. Within the box, there was a small intravenous bag. The bag in the box hung like an orchid pedal. “This will make her very comfortable,” Jimmy said. He must have recognised something in the nature of C.D.’s stare at the bag in the box, because his eyes stayed on her for an extra beat. “We have to keep it locked by law.” It would be another two years before the country knew the word “Fentanyl,” but C.D. knew it. She’d heard the volleyball players at the beach talk about it since elementary school. They called it “China.” You could easilys mash the lockbox and take the Fentanyl. It reminded C.D. of the plastic casing on a fire alarm that you were meant to crack open. She remembered flipping the casing on the fire alarm at the youth centre and pulling it with Manny when they were 14. She thought of Manny before their prom opening a little plastic corsage case and pinning the bouquet on her. After Adrienne was born, the NICU nurses filled a decorative plastic case with pink macaroons for them. Then she thought of the plastic incubator Adrienne lived in those first few days. They opened up the incubator and handed the baby to C.D. Things kept getting handed to her in these little plastic cases. The zenith reputation of China and the urge to be reborn through it meant she could not sit down in the room with the drug present. So she synced herself with Jimmy, mirroring the nurse’s moves. When Jimmy checked the heart monitor, C.D. checked the heart monitor. Jimmy took Flo’s pulse on the left side of her neck, C.D. took it on the right side of her neck. She put herself in his care. When he left the room, C.D. closed the door behind herself and waited for him in the hall.

It took eight hours for Flo to let go. A drip administered .5 mg of Dilaudid every thirty minutes, along with the Fentanyl. Her breaths spaced out one every ten seconds, fifteen seconds, twenty. She woke up and began pulling the nodes off her head. Her arms moved at the speed of being in water. Then the oxygen mask came off. Jimmy and C.D. assisted in all the undressing. Her breaths came and went without any anxious heaving. When Flo went over thirty seconds without breathing, Jimmy checked for a pulse. He shut down the big, whirling machine behind Flo’s bed. “You’ll have to wait for the doctor to officially declare the death,” Jimmy said.

“Where’s the doctor?” C.D. asked. “A few floors up. Mondays are the busiest.” “I’m gonna eat all the drugs in this room and die if you make me do that.” Jimmy walked her to the elevator, then outside. The harbour looked like a darkening lake at the bottom of Goat Hill. A Nor’Easter was due. The blue parking ban lights flashed atop the street lamps. But it was a balmy sixty degrees, a gift to those who still had errands to run. C.D. stood fidgeting in the hospital’s pick-up and drop-off circle. She must have looked haggard from working all night and day, and, still, she needed something to do. One of her neighbours from Goat Hill, Dwayne Rowe, walked by her on his way into the E.R. Big, tall, grizzled Dwayne Rowe. He gave her a stinking look. C.D. remembered Dwayne gave her that same look when he walked by her front stoop and saw her outside paying a cleaning lady shortly after Adrienne was born. “Fuck you, Dwayne Rowe,” she shouted, as he limped into the waiting room.

Snoopy arrived in her dust-covered SUV. When C.D. sat in the front seat, she carried with her the valise full of Flo’s belongings. As soon as Snoopy began talking, there was no shortage of things to do. Call the funeral home, call the church, write an obituary, call Flo’s attorney, call the cousins, execute the will, call a realtor, clean Flo’s room. She’d brought C.D. her Antabuse. She also had a bag that contained the home drug-testing kit. C.D. had met with the addiction counsellor up on RailroadAvenue. She didn’t want to go to AA. She didn’t want to take the drug test. She didn’t want to be at the whims of Manny’s protective order. But she wanted to be sober. She wanted to keep having a say in her own life. “You’re staying with me tonight,” Snoopy said.

C.D. agreed, but she needed to be dropped off at the cottage first.

“Okay.” She walked through the gravel driveway, then through the halls of the cottage. The Nor’Easter swelled the harbour. Inside the place sounded like an outpost on Mount Washington during a blizzard. Sounds of buckling wood and yawning beams made it feel like a gust of wind could blow it all in the ocean. Rain hammered the shingles. In the windows, the water was higher than ever and began to breach the concrete wall in sheets. Out beyond the storm, the sun touched the ocean. A person’s footsteps could be heard out in the sunroom.“Candy girl?” What? Sin Daddy appeared in the kitchen, sweating and dripping with rain. “Did Flo die?” “Yeah.” “Oh,” he said.

C.D. did not stop him from walking into her room, where all the medication was still organised on the bureau. The bed looked the same as when the paramedics carried Flo out of it. Adrienne’s Easter stocking was slumped against the bedside table. C.D. grabbed it and left Sin Daddy in the room trying to remain calm so he could go about the robbery in the most thoughtful way. But he couldn’t help himself. He ripped off the child-safety tops, pigged out on the pills and chased the one she spilled underneath the bed, across the rug, below the closet door.

In a hallway closet, C.D. found her boots and old denim varsity swim team jacket with her initials on the sleeve and the captain’s C on the shoulder. It still fit. She was twenty four years old. People could judge her for wanting to wear the high school jacket. She didn’t care. It made her feel good. She put the Easter stocking under the jacket. She’d give it to Roberta if she had to. She’d put it in the mail box. She’d swim up Goat Hill, climb the wedding cake house herself, scale down the chimney, and leave it in the baby chair.

The wall disappeared in the waves as water flooded into the house. It was impossible to see in front of her as she hoofed it towards Goat Hill. But she looked like herself. It was in the stride. It was C.D.

MIKE MURPHY is a writer whose work has appeared in Hobart Pulp and Cornice Magazine. He holds an MFA from Columbia's Writing Program and teaches English in New York


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