Talking to the Dead by Chella Courington

Remember the night at the Bottoms Up in New Orleans and you dared me to dance on the bar. How I threw that white sweatshirt with Eat Me on the floor, my black lace bra for show. Remember no windows in the place, lava lamps and creepy balls of yellow wax growing inside the glass. How the bald guy at the end, somewhere near the orange cat, stuck ten dollars in my jeans and said if I picked up another ten between my toes he’d make me a rich lady. After you passed out in the back booth, I went with him for an hour, maybe two. Later you said that was the worst time ever and I called it my best fuck ever, that old dude boning me crazy till I screamed. My face smeared cherry red. Why didn’t you leave me? Why did you stay to clean up mess piled on mess? Damn, I should’ve died of the heart attack. Not you. Taking care of me till you just gave out. That big heart burst. Nothing left but the suffering. Night after night. Me somewhere getting banged. You waiting for me to come home. My breath sour, eyes bloodshot. You snoring on the couch. God knows I feel guilty. Can’t make it through the day without Xanax. The boss says he’s firing me if I don’t get it together. Tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit. So here I am, ghost man, talking to you and drinking myself to sleep.

Chella Courington (she/they) is a writer and teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including X-R-A-Y Magazine, New World Writing, and The Daily Drunk. A Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington was raised in the Appalachian south and now lives in California.