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It's 4 AM

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Read Time 3 min
Published 11 months ago

It’s 4 AM. My mother wants to drive. There’s nowhere for us to go, but she wants to tell me about Jesus, the devil, and music. It’s summertime. I don’t get to go to school. She has turned the radio knob up as high as it will go, and the sounds of pianos, guitars, and horns fill the air.

My mother used to be a sexy singer in a cocktail lounge before her head got sick, all sour. Now, she collects checks in the mailbox, and we just drive. She begins to hum now, and in her deep, pretty voice, she sings, “Wild... fire,” loud, intense like she’s back on stage again.

My insides go all soft like red playdough, and I shuffle my feet for a few seconds. The Wildfire song is about a horse. I should know. I’ve heard it one hundred seventeen times. It makes me want to catch one fast, ride off and away. My mom thinks she needs to practice her singing every single day. She thinks if she drives-drives-drives, sings enough, she will get her job back, and my daddy might come home too.

I think me chasing down a horse will happen first! I look for my horse in the fields, out the glass window, white ones, golden, brown ones, my favorite, are the black ones. They shine like they are almost blue in the sun.

When she’s not singing, she’s talking about Jesus almighty, the devil’s water, and all of my daddy’s sins, but I don’t say a word. You can’t fix a sour head. And when she starts to say all those curse words and beats her fist against the steering wheel, her tears will come fast like bullets. I take a deep breath then like I might be blowing out all the candles that light the darkness.

The piano in the background soothes me for a minute or two, but she’s running through the red lights now. That is when I have to pretend, we are on a magic carpet ride again, and I get to go to special places like most kids do, maybe the skating rink, a bowling alley or that park with the six flags. We’re flying up high now, all over, looking down at the lime grass, and those itty-bitty yellow flowers, the ones daddy picked once for my mother back when her face was bright as the fat moon, and she didn’t need to drive down all these dead end streets. 

At the end of the magic ride, I spot all those circles and circles of cool, turquoise water that make me want to hold my breath, jump in, kick and kick as fast as I can until my eyeballs burn, but I don’t. And I don’t get to chase my horse today, either. 

Still, sometime tomorrow, after 4 AM, I’ll get to go to the circus.



@ Copyright 2020 This story was previously published in September 2020. Enjoy the ride and stay Inspired!

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