Madelyn sets the crossword to the side. None of the answers are right, but she still managed to make everything fit. Making yourself right tastes better over a cup of instant coffee. Her daughter gifted her fancy beans from Colombia last Christmas. The bag sits on the counter next to the coffee pot, unopened. She likes the ink print on the front so much that she could never bring herself to open it. She settles for opening more cards with other people’s names on them instead.
Michael Goronga, 128 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44106 The blender lid explodes to the ceiling, coating the window and the front of Michael’s shirt with a viscous blend of peanut butter and kale. He’s silent, breath gathering fast. His hand tightens around his waiting glass before he hurls it at the wall. The mess keeps for tomorrow.
Caroline Metz, 117 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44106 Caroline sits in the tub when she showers, letting water saturate her hair then rivulet down her ribcage and catalogue each bone. When she towels herself off, she avoids her reflection in the mirror. When her mother calls, she lets the phone ring to voicemail.
Lola Gray, 448 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44107 Lola crams her underwear into her purse. No need to wake him, no need for awkward conversation. But he stirs, sits up, smiles like a sweetheart, asks if she wants to get dinner again sometime soon. She says sure. She doesn’t mean it. Her Lyft arrives on time.
Terence Eddy, 7 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44106 He’s pretty sure he loves her. It’s only been a few weeks, but she’s the kind of girl he could take home to his family. Maybe it’s her laugh or the way she’s never on her phone when he gets back from the bathroom. Something. Man, it’s something.
Kyle Brodie, 376 Walnut St., Cleveland 44107 Balancing has never been Kyle’s strong suit, a fact he feels more than ever as his extra-large iced tea perches atop Bob and Christina’s coffee while he fumbles at the door. He didn’t think this through. A stranger makes way for him. Kyle thanks her under his breath, flustered.
Lamar Hawk, 543 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44107 Despite previous belief, Lamar is getting good at braiding his daughter’s hair. He went to the classes, went to the salon, asked his mother questions. This isn’t the first morning she hasn’t cried when he brushed out. He’s proud of that. What else was he supposed to do?
Dominic Johnson, 178 Walnut St., Cleveland, OH 44106 It’s too early for this, Dominic thinks as he packs the young man’s rail-thin body into the back of his cruiser. The young man doesn’t struggle, too far gone. Track marks kiss his wrists, the crooks of his arms. Dominic can’t look at him; it’s all too intimate.
Daniel Bruckner, 768 Walnut St., Cleavland, OH 44108 The backseat is a tar pit. Daniel does his best to lift his limbs but sinks instead into the engine’s growl. Maybe he won’t fall through the floor. The back of the officer’s head looks like his mother’s disappointment. He starts to cry. He’ll drown before he stops.