for my sister
Every day you said you were dying. You chronicled symptoms on crumpled bar napkins: achy spine and shoulders, hard to concentrate, everything is loud. You told the girls at work you had to leave because you were sweating into the pixels around you and they scoffed, but they’ve never had demons before.
You went to see a doctor but the place was a hovel. He prescribed pills far too strong for your tiny frame. That night, you stayed over but kept waking up with your face in your hands, your saran wrap skin hot and sweating. The Ativan were hot candies under our tongues. I wasn’t sure about taking it; I just wanted to feel the same as you for once.
We started to talk while you drifted between sleep and waking. You spoke to dream-me and I spoke to awake-you and we laughed at one another’s others. You said it was the first time all week you haven’t felt like dying. I said you need to dream more. We settled into fleece. We settled into ourselves.
When you left in the morning, it was raining, but you’ve always liked the fog. I reminded you that ten degrees wasn’t cold and there was nothing in the air that could kill you. As kids we wore paper towels on our heads and trampled through brush like warriors. You pointed at flowers you didn’t recognize, renamed them for the world: Marshapanz, Tuskarples, Zealites.
Jessica Johns is an MFA writing student at UBC, studying and working as a guest on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. She is the incoming Promotions Editor for PRISM magazine, and her writing has appeared in SAD Mag and the Bolo Tie Collective anthology. Her story "Others" is the first prize winner in the flash CNF category of our inaugural Short Forms Contest.