“Susan” by Holly Day

I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the 
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death 
and slipped quietly out the door, defying
detection. Your bare back

was open to anyone and everyone coming in, bareback
riders slip in through the cracks of hotel security all the time, defying
even little girl sanctity. Yesterday, I dreamt of your death
how I would deal with it, wondering if you survived the circus
of the imaginary midnight ambushes that haunted my mind, the
big sister duties I’d imposed upon myself stuck in
my head, driving me crazy–Why didn’t you call this morning? I had

this idea of how this would all work out, I had
it all planned out, but I can’t play everyone’s mother, not in
this life. I’m stretched too thin as it is. The
alarm clock rings in my head before true circus
time, and I can’t sleep for worrying about you, little girl—death.
Nobody is going to come when you scream. It defies
all logic, but it’s true. You left your bare back
open all night. Please tell me you lock your door now.
Please tell me 
you’re all right.

Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, Earth’s Daughters, and Appalachian Journal, and her recent book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, and Bound in Ice. She teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and Hugo House in Seattle.

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

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