Vagabond, (to concentrate on pain)

22311_10153239968474407_2041423899278877137_nI hadn’t planned on my sister.

The plan had been grandma

in the hospital

fallen again

tipsy at that intersection

of prescription and habit

I drove down

in case it was the end

she’s 96. It’s always in case of the end.

I drove down to give a few lectures

the first book ever had come out

I could say author instead of writer

I could say alive instead of dead.

I scheduled a new tattoo. A new goddess.

A friend designed. Celebrate the book.

Celebrate not giving up.

The only day I could schedule it

was the same day as leaving.

My sister was already in the car

Caged and wild and waiting to break.

She’d have time to grab food and take a walk.

She lit a joint on the street in front of a woman pushing a stroller.

I gave her money for food.

I went inside.

I hunkered down on the table

the image of what I wanted drawn on my skin

there was more black. it would take longer than the other ones.

there would be more pain.

my sister is covered in tattoos both beautiful and self-inflicted

Like I always do. I wanted to bolt from the table.

But I wanted that needle in me too.

I wanted to feel something so I didn’t have to feel her.

She came in and out of the parlor.

She scheduled her own tattoo unsure of what she wanted.

Then canceled. Then scheduled again. Then canceled.

I apologized for her. The needle went in. I tightened.

I contracted. I felt like I deserved this.

Perhaps I deserved her. Shouldn’t I have tried harder?

When she was younger?

Before the permanent mark of crazy on her skin?

And when it was over she was pacing. She was screaming.

I smiled. The throbbing of my shoulder blade under plastic wrap.

Another goddess to protect me.

I put her in the car. The tattoo between me and the passenger side.

She talked of her plans and my faults.

My shoulder tingled and I felt light headed as I drove

Us out of south. Out of her connections.

Out of another grandma false alarm.

We picked up our aunt and headed north.

And I felt nothing for her.

Just the dull soreness and puffy skin

of new commemoration.


About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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