Vagabond, ( Cootie Catcher)


I’m not at all sure of what to do.

I hear the stories from my aunt

from my sister too.

Her boyfriend of a year dropped

her onto the lawn of my aunt’s house

like you would drop something

on the curb for trashman, for recycling.

When I get back to the Vagabond I ask her

how did it happen? what came before?

how does one wind up on the curb of their aunt’s house

after dinner on a Monday night with no place to go?

They just don’t want me. It’s like I have cooties or something.

In the coming months I will hear more and more

the bruises left on people’s hearts and skin

the naked wanting that translates and gyrates

into blushing and damnation

shield the children’s eyes sort of thing.

How do you hold someone who is on fire?

I’m a cootie catcher, She says when I take her

for groceries. No one wants to be around me.

They’re afraid it’s catching.

I think of the times I drank with her

me and my two drink moderation.

Her and her finished bottles

I think of other times

one hit for me to her all night long.

At the grocery store she buys finger foods

like she’s hosting a party.

Our grandmother is in the hospital

it’s Easter tomorrow. My sister grabs a couple of bottles

of wine before check out.

We can party later. She says. We can get everyone to come over to the motel pool for a party…

I try to remain pokerfaced.

My aunts and cousins and I surrounding the hospital bed

hoping she makes it through as none of us are ready for grandma to go.

Later my sister is angry that no one wants to party,

that we all are too nervous to leave the hospital.

That we clearly love grandma more than her.

I ask her if she wants to go to the hospital. She says no.

A few hours later when I check in

the bottles are in the wastebasket.

I can’t stay. I’m leaving in two days.

She’s out of money. No one will give her more.

She’s caught the big cootie.

I can feel the choice in my throat.






About margaretelysiagarcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia primarily writes fiction, essays and poetry from a remote corner of the Sierra Nevada. She's currently working on a non-fiction book about plus-sized modeling. She's also searching for a publisher for her new collection of stories? Mary of the Chance Encounters. Her short story collection Sad Girls & Other Stories out now on Solstice Literary Press. She blogs here and at Throwing Chanclas and Girl Body Pride. Is a contributor to Hip Mama Magazine. She writes the zine The Adventures of Sad Girl with her daughter, Paloma. She’s a three-time director of the national Listen to Your Mother Show in Plumas County ( She has an alternative women’s music show Milkshake & Honey on Plumas Community Radio (
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