When her mother mounted the singing reindeer with flashing antlers
above the toilet, Diana filled her ears with Angel Soft. She cringed
at the trappings—tinsel strand by strand on a tree turning brown,
stuffed turkey, musical chairs with cousins she saw once a year. But
the holiday changed when the cousin with luscious lips like Danny Zuko
handed her dried cannabis wrapped in paper. At fifteen she had no idea
what lay ahead—hours waiting for vowels and consonants to catch an
upward drift and tumble down before she took another drag, holding it
so long she could hear toucans screech from the den below. Their big
green beaks tipped in red. Diana’s science teacher said they were
tissue thin on the outside. Yet inside, honeycombs of bone. Ridges and
hollows of white calcium twirling into a playground of hexagons for no
one except Diana and the boy on Christmas Eve.

Chella Courington

teaches fiction, poetry and writing at Santa Barbara City College. Her recent poetry and flash fiction appear or are forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Opium Magazine, DMQ Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and Moria. Her first chapbook was entitled Southern Girl Gone Wrong.

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