31 Days of Holiday Hooligans: Alone with the Clouds

Rita lies in her bed and blows clouds of smoke towards the ceiling. Everybody fucking has somebody. Getting married. Making babies. Today her co-worker she used to screw, or rather, she imagines she used to screw, announced in a mass email to the clinic that he and his girlfriend are expecting. “Ho, ho, ho,” the subject line read. What a fucking Christmas surprise. She was stupid to think he would even be slightly interested in her. Not when Hallie owns five guns, loves to hunt, and she’s white.

Nothing racial, just preference, they always tell Rita. But she’s a racist for preferring white men; she’s repeatedly accused of hating herself.

She takes another long drag on the cigarette. This isn’t what she wants. Cigarettes don’t do it for her. She wants to inhale, hold it in, float towards the ceiling with the clouds, turn over to see herself, still, hovering just above the mattress, the sheets outlining her body underneath, her eyes hanging low, faded, gone.

Fuck Renee and her incessant need to make everybody better people. “When we were kids, we wanted to be on Santa’s nice list,” Renee said. “But as adults, everyone should desire to be on the Lamb’s list.” She’s got Bryan talking like a fucking uptight preacher’s kid. She made Rita fast weed. Shit. She misses being high. She needs it. The kiss of the blunt turning her lips numb. Feeling inflated. Never wanting to come down unless it’s on top of a man rising, naked below the waist. Shit. She should’ve picked alcohol. Booze only makes her horny. No point in being horny when she’s alone in her bed with only her fingers. Sometimes they get the job done, sometimes she needs to feel the full circumference of a man’s penis.

A white man. Because that’s what she prefers.

Although her weed man is black. And sometimes he stays, when the loud isn’t enough, when she comes down too soon and needs to follow it with a shot of Hennessy, and he helps her finish the bottle, then finishes her.

Maybe she does hate herself. Maybe God does too. Maybe He’s sick of seeing her in church on Sunday, knowing where she was the night before, where she’ll be after the congregation’s dismissed, knowing she’ll slip out before the alter call.

“You’re wrong,” Renee always says. “He’s waiting for you to come to Him. A Father doesn’t turn His back on His children.”

And maybe she has a point, because sometimes Rita can feel Him tugging at her heart, making it skip a beat, not like a man. With a man, the skip is almost like a pinch at the bottom corner, just above the ribcage, like she’s going into cardiac arrest. With God, it’s a flutter, like butterflies in her stomach, not like shuffling in her bowels.

But if a father doesn’t abandon his children, where the fuck is hers? Why hasn’t she seen him since she was eleven, when he folded eleven dollar bills in her palm for her birthday, three months too late.

No. She won’t get into that suck fest. She won’t accept her dad as the root of her problems. She won’t be that girl with daddy issues, who seeks approval in the arms of a deadbeat nigga like her father.

No. She just likes to be high. Wants to be high. Needs to get high . . .

Shit. Where the fuck is Renee?

—Nortina


Written for 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans.

Read the previous installments:
——
Day One: Before the Wedding
Day Two: Time to Decorate the Tree

Read the next installment:
——
Day Four: Distractions

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