Osmosis

Fiction by Sara Hills

The guy who wants to date my daughter shows up an hour late, swings his long hair like a cape and brings my daughter a square bottle of whisky with fruit in it, not flowers or an apology for being late but whisky and yes, I roll my eyes even though I’m nearly forty and my mother—oh, that bag, she’s delighted that my nineteen-year-old look-a-like daughter has finally attracted some male attention because God knows we aren’t designed to get through this life alone—that bag beams like Cape Boy has brought my daughter an island or her own Fortune 500 company and I know that look, it’s the very same look my mother gave both Bobby McCleary from the eighth grade science fair and Tony Beckley from the Bright Street Baptist Church social, saying why can’t you date a boy like that, though I was only thirteen and then sixteen and twenty years later she still doesn’t understand the difference between organic chemistry and sexual chemistry, how basic Tony was and caustic at that and I was practically a lemon—let’s face it, I’ll always be a lemon—and too small to have had any hope of neutralizing Tony Beckley when he set his mind to something, how my words and my weight weren’t enough, how Cape Boy’s hair and his whisky aren’t enough; so what if I roll my eyes, if my mother says I’m overreacting, never mind that he’s late and the whisky is homemade in a clear square bottle and my daughter, who is still young enough that I remember the weight of her in my hands after she slid out onto the bedsheets just before dawn and didn’t cry, didn’t even so much as gurgle, even when the midwife held her face down and rubbed her sticky back and suctioned and suctioned the fluids out of her while I held my breath but forgot to pray as if me holding mine would make her finally breathe, my daughter though she’s legally an adult still barely weighs more than a pencil and doesn’t know how the fruit gets saturated, that it’s simple osmosis, and if you’re a pencil-sized girl you might not factor the equation and think it’s just fruit Mom it’s just one piece and then two and a sip and it doesn’t seem like actually drinking because no one does math in the moment, imagines waking up in a dark room without pants and a Grand Canyon-sized ache and for all you know you could still be in Arizona but maybe not, and maybe just maybe you’re in some shack in Nevada on a brown-stained mattress with no sheets and the curtains drawn tight in occlusion, and who brings whisky on the first date anyway unless they have one thing on their mind, like Tony Beckley and those boys hiding Everclear in fruit punch and chucking slices of oranges in because they knew we wouldn’t drink beer and liquor is quicker in a ruby elixir and would get us good and goosey loosey so they could hide other things inside us, so deep that even when they finished a bit of them remained—and this guy, this fucking wavy-haired late but he brings whisky guy!—if they just wanted to have sex they could have asked should have asked, instead of leaving us wondering why our mothers hadn’t warned us about alcohol and boys and the damned fruit in and their stupid short hair, wavy hair, hair that flows like a cape instead of telling us we were overreacting, like now, like when he shows up an hour late for a date with the damned whisky and my mother has that look in her eye that says nobody stays pencil-thin forever and if you’re alone in this world you’re nothing you’re nothing you’re nobody you’re sure you don’t want to have a taste, he came all this way, despite her I turn to my daughter and say: do the math, it doesn’t take much, and warn and plead with the memory of every caustic Tony and every girl with her soft permeable heart and every mother that could have said should have said something, and say: it can sneak up on you, baby girl, and fuck this guy and his whisky with fruit in, and say: I need to you to keep breathing.

<strong>Sara Hills</strong>
Sara Hills

Sara Hills is a pushcart-nominated writer from the Sonoran Desert. Her work is featured or forthcoming at SmokeLong Quarterly, Cheap PopX-R-A-Y Literary, Cease CowsNew Flash Fiction Review and others. She’s been commended in the Bath Flash Fiction Award, included in the BIFFY 50, and is delighted to have a debut flash collection forthcoming in 2021 with Ad Hoc Fiction. Sara lives with her family and an enormous fluff-dog in Warwickshire, England and tweets from @sarahillswrites.

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