Vagabond (children & sisters)


I make it home alone after 13 hours of driving in the dark night.

We barely stopped to eat or drink.

My sister used her last bit of cash for a motel room in Quincy

(she’ll stay in motels for the better part of a month).

I got a flat tire 5 miles from my house

my husband comes to get me in the middle of the night.

A different set of cops stop to ask if I’m alright. Yeah, just need to sleep.

I look into my kids’ rooms and watch them sleep.

I take a shower at 3 am

needing to wash off the stench of her cigarettes and her trauma.

She must know that I know that she knows

that if I didn’t have kids, I would have taken her home.

I would have let her scream and rage

I would have gone quiet and made tea

and hoped for the best. I live in a forest.

It brings me cliched calm and serenity.

I would have tried to listen while she

exclaimed that her life was unfair

that mine was easy–

a declaration even more messed up than it sounds

in the face of facts and realities.

My children don’t know trauma.

They’ve known only one set of parents.

They’ve only known a handful of arguments.

They’ve never waded through what her presence would be

here in this house, next to the campground.

Where the forest in the early morning is damp and renewed.

She isn’t mine to save. She’s 38.

They deserve a life without trauma. As much as I can give.

I stare at them again as they sleep.

I can feel her screaming inside my head.

You’re choosing them over me.


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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