I find the idea of living forever exhausting, so I decide I will die at the age of eighty-seven. I will begin smoking again at seventy—a week after my husband has his third heart attack and is buried in a plot next to my future plot in the cemetery off Peters Rd. in Oak Ridge. A few months after my husband’s death, my daughter, Emily, will divorce her husband after she comes home early from work and finds his hair stylist, Trisha, bent over the living room couch, with her husband—pants and boxers around his ankles—bare assed behind her. Around this time, I will forget how to feel. I will see a psychiatrist who will prescribe medications that make me forget that I forgot how to feel. After Emily’s divorce is finalized, she will move back in with me and spend three years sleeping in her childhood bedroom. I will smoke cigarette after cigarette as I watch my daughter gain twenty-five pounds and then lose forty, as she finds God and then loses him, too. Eventually, Emily will learn how to not lose things, and on a day in a May, she will meet Steve—a chiropractor with twin teenage daughters who always smell like cherry blossoms—in the produce aisle at Kroger. Emily and Steve will refer to the story of how they met as a meet-cute, though I will have no idea what that means. They will hold hands as they tell me about how they both reached for the same tomato. The same tomato! they will say, all teeth and the onset of middle age. Out of all of the tomatoes in all the Kroger’s, we reached for that one! A year after the tomato, Emily and Steve will marry under a tree. It will be a beautiful tree. Emily will never birth a child, and after two miscarriages, Steve will get a vasectomy. The twins will always smell like cherry blossoms. On my seventy-third birthday I will take on a new lover. His name will be Phil. He will refer to himself as a recovering Baptist. I will suck his cock three times, but he will only come once. We will share a queen size bed for six years until Phil passes away in his sleep. How gentle a ghost crawls through you, I will think as the paramedics cover Phil with a white sheet and roll him out of the room. After Phil’s passing, I will immediately buy a new bed. I will buy cocaine from one of the twins I will never be able to tell apart. I will roll up a twenty-dollar bill and imagine everything a movie. I will only do it once. I will smell cherry blossoms for the entire afternoon. I will like it okay. I will decide to never take another lover, and halfway to eighty-eight, as I step off an escalator in the Midtown Mall, I will fall and break my hip. Three months later, I will be dead.
About The Author
Leigh Chadwick is the author of the chapbook Daughters of the State (Bottlecap Press, 2021) and the poetry coloring book This Is How We Learn to Pray, illustrated by Stephanie Kirsten. Her forthcoming books include her debut poetry collection Your Favorite Poet (Malarkey Books, 2022) and the collaborative poetry collection Too Much Tongue (Autofocus, 2022), co-written with Adrienne Marie Barrios. Leigh’s poetry has appeared in Salamander, Passages North, The Indianapolis Review, HAD, Reservoir Road, and Hobart. She can be found online at www.leighchadwick.com and on Twitter at @LeighChadwick5.