June 25, 2014KR OnlineFiction


Out in our backyard, my brothers started picking superpowers and I chose “breathe water.” Gary chose super strength so he grabbed me by my ankles and dunked me hair-first into the pool. I was surprised. My eyes opened and the stinging—the chlorine—me hair-crowded like seaweed—my shirt slipped up so my navel showed, my training bra, the sun living in my skin, which if I stayed this way would scorch. I was actually thinking about my sensitive skin as my ears surrounded in blue, my heart little, hollow, holds-to-lungs, flinched. It was very blue down there. My eyes hurt. I could hear Gary sounding far away, miles away, his laugh dark as chocolate. I could not hear Tom. I flailed I guess, bubbles billowed out of me, my mouth, and emptying they pushed my body deeper into the water and I, drowning, died.

I awoke as a cabbage in my mother’s garden. The dirt was moist and I was surrounded by the other cabbages, about my size, one giant purple one rotting from the center. My heart stretched inside its leaves. A gardening hose clicked on and tic tic tic tic-ed across us in an arc. Did I say “us”? I meant me and the other cabbages. I meant here came my mother in her gardening gloves, walking around on her knees, slipping her fingers into the dirt, under my leaves, yanking me from the ground. I died.

I died but I didn’t die because here I was an ant on my back, pinwheeling under a cashew. Someone’s shoe, big as God, came crashing.

I shivered awake as can of Diet Cherry Coke in my brother’s mini-fridge. Dark and cool and my side touched the edge of a very brown banana. It smelled like air-conditioning, over-sweet and a little empty. I waited about four days in the dark before Gary reached in and took me out, where it was blinding, sun glint-off-me, and Gary’s girlfriend Laura, with her ponytail coming out, and her jeans on the floor, took me gratefully from Gary and pressed me hard against her mouth.

I died.

I awoke a pantoum, was saved in a Microsoft doc. (what is / instillation? is it like / constellation? / like art exhibits, a museum // instillation? is it like / bookshelves / like art exhibits, a museum / of you they’ll pay to see // installed / kind of like a bookshelf / it’s you they’ll pay / kind of like stars.) Three months later, after a particularly risky torrent, a virus corroded me, the hard-drive completely frizzed. You wouldn’t believe what it’s like, so flat and so electric, millions of wires you can’t even see connected, and after having someone pummel you on a keyboard one afternoon, dizzied with tequila, and, having nowhere to go in terms of ideas, “save” you, stop punching you out and you get corrupt. When you get corrupt. When out of nowhere you 40ąύ+šł¥ĩöæßÇΏƒä§∞‰.

Then amazingly, airlessly: a comet. The tail of one? I could feel myself falling apart. I trailed galaxy. I was part burning part glowing-whizzing-through—was something. Was cosmic. Blackness. I felt weird thinking a word like “blackness” like “infinity.” There was no earth where I was but there was a wind. We, or me (all the parts), turned with it. And there was what looked like a raincloud, a supernova of color in it, and that is where we, or I, went: dying.

Then a snake. Tried swallowing a deer one day, died.

Then a theater ticket, snug inside the wallet until one night camping: kindling.

Then a cigarette. A sneaker. A CD. A pat of butter in a ramekin. A computer mouse. The violet crayon. Sunglasses. Intestines. A dog with one leg. A preemie. A river. Sunflowers. A swing. The zipper on my mother’s purse. A garbage can. A bird too small to break out of its egg. An egg. A tooth plucked by a dentist.

I was everything.

Then my brother. Then Gary. Then all of a sudden I was Gary holding me (me?) by the ankles over the pool. The sun was up. It smelled like lilacs here. It was startling how the me in the water stopped flailing. I was Gary. I was holding my kid sister by her ankle and I let go. And the water rippled. And she didn’t float.

Melissa Goodrich received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Arizona. Most recently her fiction has been awarded a 2013 AWP Intro Award, forthcoming in Artful Dodge, and her poetry has received the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Margaret Sterling Memorial Award. Her first chapbook of poetry is published by 4th and Verse, called If You What.