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“Girl, all I ever wanted to do was let go: stumble, grumbling, drunk on my own juices. Spread my thighs two nations wide. It’s funny how popular you get when your business is falling all over yourself, when your schtick is snatching rattles, wallets, cameras, whatever’s around,” Niagara Falls hisses one night, when I find myself in town. “Now, my name is known by newlyweds and bachelors alike, my sloth is franchised, recklessness advertised as entertainment. Put a penny in my mouth and I’ll grind a souvenir version out – American, Canadian, whichever currency is handy – so randy you’ll need to wear a raincoat when you come near.”
I know a true hedonist when I hear one, but I can’t relate. Born of beings who, too, never knew embarrassment, bacchanal-bred in a house full of guns and confetti, I grew to be the cleaner-upper, morning husher of embers hot in the fireplace all night. I don’t know what nonchalance feels like, those lazylays on scenic horizons. I’m always on guard, a connoisseur of armor, at the perfect temperature in an airtight container. I wear mosquito netting to the grocery store, don’t open the door for anyone short of the police or Elvis, don’t collect the mail without wearing a barrel, don’t pummel, don’t know how it feels to be pummeled. I shy from precipices, hazards brash and shiny. You know, every fall begins with curiosity.
Every undoing begins with intrigue: ask the boxcar jumper, the organ-grinder, the ice cream truck driver, those who’ve watched a soggy decade spring from a weekend fling. I’m comfortable on dry land, don’t need to throw my heart into a lake to know the splash it would make. I’ll never court brute force, can’t imagine managing a violence so safe that people come in droves to let lick their children’s faces, so steady it seems quaint. I will never spawn such bawdy superfluity, such abandon, enough to power a city.
About Jessica Manack
Jessica Manack holds degrees from Hollins University and lives with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing has recently appeared in Maudlin House, Five South and Peregrine. She is a recipient of a 2022 Curious Creators Grant.
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