Keep Art Alive :: Art by Chuck Sperry
“I know a girl with the golden touch,
she’s got enough,
she’s got too much.”
There are fifteen pills left in the gold trimmed pressed powder container, fifteen that she has hidden away from the countless prescriptions she has picked up from the one town over pharmacy, stashed in this one thing that Laney took of her Mother’s before she left. Seems fitting to stash away her escape plan in the ultimate escape artist’s memento, Laney thinks, as she counts the small white pills again, lining them up like a front line defense, then dropping each back in, one-by-one.
Laney is alone in the house, well, not completely, but her Father is so lost in the haze of fistfuls of pills and tossed back cheap beer, that she might as well be alone. Jack is at school, where she should be, but she can’t today, not today, today everything hurts, from the tips of her fingers to the damaged ends of her dyed long hair. Laney’s phone keeps lighting up, buzzing and shaking like the inside of her head feels, as text after text flies her way. She knows its Jeff, knows that he will be relentless until she answers him, but she can’t seem to make herself move, or care, not today.
For a moment she wonders if Jack has skipped classes, too. He could, why not? She does it all the time. Truth is, though, she knows that Jack is hopelessly good, like that cricket from Pinnochio good, with a stellar moral compass always in tow. He has always been this way, she thinks, even when it felt like their little world was falling apart.
Laney had done okay with him, though, raising him, getting him through those rough middle school years right after she left them. All those nights when neither of them could sleep, and all those stories she told him, they seemed to have been enough to get him up each day until the nights became something like normal again. It was around then that Jack started drawing, turning the two of them into characters in some alternate reality, a prettier place, a bigger place, a world so much more than the one that was filling them with dust and pill bottles and fear of being left.
Laney was shiny and bright in his drawings, with flowing golden hair and closets of clothes in a rainbow of colors, and wings. Laney always looks gold in them, like the sun, like the center of light. There was always music near her, lamps lit and flickering candles and warmth, everything new and clean. She wished she could be that version of herself now, today, and that all the light would wrap her up and help the shaking subside. Laney wished the sky would open up so she could fly away from here and never come back.
Jack was better now, wasn’t he? He would still be good if she went away. Jack would always be good.
Laney counts the pills again, all fifteen, and tries to feel the gold.