Written by Christopher Hughes
Steam rose from a crumpled, metal hood. Yellow fire turned in the bulbs. Sirens echoed in a soft, suburban block. I could feel the heat in my face and the blood underneath it, blooming. Then I was alive. They blotted my wounds with gauze that scratched at the raw, open flesh. It hurt, but I was glad the blood was no longer leaking into my eye. Ten months later I wrote about it and failed. All I could do was click and click, twirl a pen across the knuckles of my hand, observe the curious resistence to memory. I was called to the stage and reached into my bag and there was nothing there. Those bright lights shone and I conjured something violent in my mind. Sorry y’all, but I forgot it, I said. A few people laughed like it was some kind of joke, and it probably was.
The medics asked for my name, address, phone number, and permission to inject some kind of something into my body. I agreed and supplied them with information and requested the removal of a bandage from my face. I imagined my mother on the other end of a line, voice cracking, full of questions, suspicious and on the verge of accusation. Then I lay in a gurney in a hallway, staring at a pock-marked ceiling, trying to remember everything and trying not to nod. A doctor approached, clipboard in hand, and said, You’re lucky to be alive. Living is easy, I said, but she didn’t get my sarcasm. They gave me a Morphine shot. I thought I was dreaming. I rolled over and peed in a plastic bottle with the curtains drawn, wondered how many Facebook notifications I had, wiped some leftover blood onto the bed sheets, tried to curl my hand into a fist, claimed I was still in pain and got another Morphine shot, considered the damage to my face, felt the bridge of my nose with my good hand, and thought about feeding my cat. It took me ten months to write about it. It was the worst I’ve ever written.
I left the stage with my head down low, exited the bar, drove home and saw the pages scattered across the carpet, my cat resting on them in a meditative state. I pulled them out from underneath and he shot me a bothered glance and I apologized. When I returned I read what I wrote and the crowd figured it for comedy and laughed, thinking they were being polite. I folded the pages and made a shopping list that included two apples and a spaghetti squash. It’s been ten months, I thought, and I still recoil in the presence of headlights. Then I entered a stall and peed with the door cracked and washed my hands and splashed water on my face. Between band stickers I could see, in the mirror, the reflection of a scar on the bridge of my nose. It wasn’t very noticeable, but I noticed.
Christopher Hughes is the author of Selected Tweets, a spoken word project and ongoing collection of prose poems based around the idea of giving context to his otherwise vague Twitter feed. He is the singer, guitarist and songwriter for The Calmative, and he produces other artists as well, out of his studio, Miscellaneous Sound. He holds an MFA in creative writing from The New School, has been published in Pax Americana, Omnia Vanitas Review and the Augury Books blog, and lives within spitting distance of Midway Mart.