I grew up looking through a grimy pane of cracked glass staring down my narrow future. Every afternoon I wedged myself onto the splintered windowsill, tucked my knees against my chest, and watched people mill about the street like magpies. There really wasn’t much variation between the birds and the people. Feathers or fingers, no one got very far. Leprosy, heroin, coal-dusted air, writhing maggots in the bread, 2 a.m. gunshots, and noises in the floor made certain no one lived past thirty.

Once upon a time when I was seven I remember running home, slamming open the door, and declaring to the stench of day-old alcohol that I wanted to fix things when I grew older. My mother studied me with sunken, yellow eyes and smiled. My father raised the green bottle clenched in his fist and shattered the glass against my jaw.

“Fix that.” He told me and never spoke again.

Midnight penned with bruising ink and rusted barrels with crisp, flaking craters. I was fifteen and hidden beneath an armor of scars, tangled hair, and earth. She was sixteen and losing words every time I pressed my mouth on hers. I thought she could save me from a nightmare. My fingers tangled with her skin, but my touch was too loud. He found us knotted together like boot laces, and he tore her off of my skin like a scab. That night my face reflected the mottled sky.

Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. I am drowning in drug-induced ecstasies. The coal dust has stained my eyes a permanent shade of raven and my ears ring with punches and shots fired. My skin is still speckled midnight in some places and she never came back. I’m dying every day and I can’t fix that even though I’m grown and I should know how. So I clench my fists and shatter the window glass praying that maybe as I fall I’ll sprout magpie wings and fly away.



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