Tic-Tac-Toe, a short story

from my short story “Tic-Tac-Toe”
The Butter/The Toast, July 2015

Just let go of the wheel and keep your foot on the gas, I heard myself think, simple as an item on the To Do. I had just left my father’s house, and I was speeding towards an intersection when the lights turned—it was like I saw it from above, the cars screaming towards each other in a x of red and white—but I felt no fear of crashing. No itch either. I turned out of habit, and that’s what scared me.

I remember pogoing in the street in humid twilight, the creak of it like mattress springs, for hours.

I remember the heat of the car. Screaming as my mother put her hand on my head and forced me in. How, once she sat down, shut the door, she didn’t start the engine, just stared straight ahead at the door my father wasn’t coming out of, sweat down her neck like rivers. Love looks unbreakable, she said, until it breaks. The seatbelt buckles were shards of sun.

Get over it, get over it, get over it. My feet say this when I go running—down the Bowery and over the Manhattan Bridge through the arch like something built by Rome. Get over it, get over it—even when I think I am. Mom’s at Thanksgiving, Dad’s at Christmas, the bowls of potatoes and the pies, the knives laughing over the turkeys, the singing in the kitchen.

What difference does anger make, when it’s so far in the past? What difference—when it wasn’t even yours?