A Lot of Bright

Leesa Cross-Smith

The summer I stopped brushing again, let the wind dread my hair; we camped in the desert. Peed on sage. I wanted to eat sage, grow a squat sage bush inside of me, watch the roots scream-sprout from my ears, my fingers, my feet. Same summer we were in the forest when there was a cougar loose in Discovery Park. Hunting, its paws pressing heavy. Cracking sticks. Clicking brambles. Smushing grass. We made our way out and stopped at King’s Hardware for skee-ball and tallboys of Vitamin R. Can you hear it—slick thump-rolling and bar chatter-hum lifting? That’s the back door chunking closed. Listen again. No. Those are the drunk white boys back at the campsite listening to Eazy-E, NWA. They’re rapping, riding jet skis over a gravel river. I made my girlfriends laugh when I called them chodes but who were we to judge? If you dropped a record needle into the rock dust, Band of Horses would start playing. We ate salmon with lemons, drank beer for breakfast. Played Marry Fuck or Kill under the high noon sun. (The three of us agreed sex with Moby would be painfully vegan-quiet—thin and blue-white sad like skim milk. Sufjan would be too gentle. David Duchovny? Always yesyes.) That evening it rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained. Goose bumps of rain popping on tent-
skin. Branch scratches of rain on tent-roof. Drunken rain slipping down half-empty wine bottles, wild rain ssss-ing out campfires. We packed up, slicked our fingers over metal poles and cold-dripping canvas. Talked to sweatshirted strangers about the double rainbow hooping us. Watched an ant line of young girls in hippie nightgowns walk down a hill. I got drunk on the plane—flew out of Seattle-rain into Nashville-rain with the high, bright smell of desert sage drying me out, burning and burning.

 
 
 


Leesa Cross-Smith’s debut short story collection, Every Kiss a War, will be published by Mojave River Press, early 2014. She and her husband run an online literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper. Find more at LeesaCrossSmith.com.