Folded in a desert basement, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the necessity of being perceived by everyone at once, when all humanity witnesses me and smirks like proud parents of an only child. With no job to respect me, no justification follows--The dispossessed; they are not afraid of my condition, not suspicious of cheap pills expanding like spray foam in the stomach of the true utilitarian. Hecho en Mexico, the lady drinks a Filthy JalapeƱo Martini in the bathroom near the border, where this life is legal if you have a curly blonde wig and manicured hands. She rubs muddy-rose stripes up my cheeks. I smile, say I love the colors and thank her for taking the time. Unconcerned with my impression on the world, I leave the ladies' room in disguise. Still innocent by birth, I trip over a loose saltillo tile in the floor. Yes, abandoning my only friend in the moment, this is what I've become--an accomplice dropped from a higher leaf, or is this my home?

About the author:

Miranda Merklein grew up in New Mexico and is currently living in southern Mississippi. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Oxford American, Permafrost, Natural Bridge, Iron Horse Literary Review, and others. She teaches English Composition and is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also edits and publishes Journal of Truth and Consequence, a magazine for the arts.