When she was 23 they plucked out an organ, filled her with industrial goop, sent her home craving hollandaise, bechamel, beurre blanc. A desire to fill her mouth with butter and cream. They sent her with a paper lunch bag full of pills that she buried in a planter, carried in a locket by her heart, folded gently in hand-written letters, so they wouldn’t crumble to dust. Help, said the letters.
She ordered take-out meals at drive-throughs, set the greasy bags by the homeless tents downtown, the scent of piss turning her stomach, freeing her from desire. She no longer functioned like a person, but slid quietly around like the empty ghost of one, took on a new persona, less yoga-goth-hippie, more 80-year-old gypsy-mystic-wanderer, collecting turquoise toe rings in Old Town, ordering sweet rolls and green chile hamburgers at the World Famous Frontier Restaurant on Central, leaving them on the counter, untouched, beside a crumpled but generous tip. Help, read the piles of coins and pocket lint.
They didn’t warn her of the side effects. Alone in a desert is no place to convalesce.
Kelle Schillaci Clarke is a Seattle-based writer with deep L.A. roots. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Superstition Review, Pidgeonholes, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, (mac)ro(mic), Flash Frog, Lunate, and other journals. She’s on Twitter @kelle224.