HOW NOT TO SPILL

Jessica Johns

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Dad has creases on his hands so thick they could split with a

poke. He gestures for me to try so I do. His skin bends on a

hinge and out spills every good and bad thing: cattails from our

driveway in Peace River, oil underground, rocks too smooth to

be useful. It washes out the floor so I watch and wade in.

 

Mom would never spill her hands like that. You could spend

all day turning them over looking for a way in and never find

it. Anything she holds dissolves into her muscles, flows clear

through her veins like consommé. She tries to teach me to hold

my hands shut too, to give them nothing.

 

I have a harder time. My need is hot and thick like alphabet

soup, but I don't burst all at once. It seeps out of my fingernails

first, my pores, then everywhere. Wracked and dripping, I float

into myself while mom combs it away. Tells me to breathe

and remember the rules. Walk backwards down hills. Take the

elevator in a fire. Keep your hands still when they come for you.

Jessica Johns, "HOW NOT TO SPILL" from how not to spill. Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Johns. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. 

 

Source: how not to spill (Rahila's Ghost Press, 2018)