Meryl’s mom says she can have anything she wants if she wants it hard enough.
She closes her eyes on the sagging front porch and meditates, breathing the way she does when she smokes Camels, except this time the smoke comes from her energy candles and the “Frosty Storm” Maybelline on the lids of her eyes she raises to the skies.
Ommm comes from her gut like when she moans over the toilet after too many beers or her new man doesn’t call, crawls home late from the bowling alley smelling like lavender.
Lavender, Meryl’s mom says, is the smell of grandmas and sluts, and she replaces this essential oil with uplifting citrus or whatever is on sale if she buys three.
Manifesting is how Meryl’s mom found the right blonde box dye after all these years and her job answering phones at Payless. She never stocks the shelves, but the manager keeps her around because she used to let him swipe at her breasts back before Tinder showed her who was bored in the next town over.
She gets discounts on flipflops and Meryl can hear them flapping against the cement when her mom goes off on long walks to smoke and do her attracting. Meryl likes when she leaves because they can stop saying affirmations about how strong and capable and deserving of love they are in front of the mirror, a kind of scrutiny that makes Meryl want to turn into incense and disappear. Because they can stop repeating the list of all the things they want in life, as if the universe will just choose to reward them out of all the billions of wishing specks.
Meryl’s mom has attracted a British accent, a date from a cop who pulled her over for speeding in a school zone to take Meryl late to middle school again because they were up late reading tarot, and a discount on new towels so now they have a matching set, pink polka dots in the bathroom next to her lacy bras and the razor Meryl uses to shave her legs, lately wants to use on her wrists because she has an ache in her belly that no ommm can fill and her mom’s new man keeps opening the bathroom door when she’s showering to sip his beer on the other side of the clear plastic curtain like she is trapped in cleansing white quartz.
Meryl wants to manifest a friend at school because the only time people sit by her at lunch is when they crowd around to laugh as she pulls a calming amethyst from her paper bag or her mom writes “abundance” 100 times on the front. Meryl’s mom has plucked a dozen new friends right out of the cosmos—they throw loud parties where they buy lots of yoga leggings from each other’s new businesses so they can get free keychains and talk about “leaning in.” Meryl wanders from her room to watch them and wonders what it feels like to have someone on your side.
She is lonely because she is a Pisces, her mother says, a cold fish swimming in the sea of too many feelings. She should be a Cancer, two figures encircling each other like a hug, like her mother’s astrology, which makes her magic, manifesting dates and discounts and getting rid of cancer cells before they even form, she promises waiters as she grips their wrists to foretell their medical futures when they pour her glass after glass of white wine at the Applebee’s.
Meryl’s mom attracts love all the time: the parents whose calls she never returns because she rejects toxic energy with charcoal face masks and black tourmaline under her pillow, the ex who calls on repeat to scream about his credit card she maxed out at the psychic, the bossy bank teller who mails another statement warning that she’s overdrawn.
Meryl thinks she’s manifesting wrong because the girls at school are never attracted to her and her small-town universe says girls liking girls is not written in the stars.
At night she sits in her room under the swirling starscape her mother manifested along with a job offer to make 20% on every lamp sold, and she envisions her hopes and dreams in her mind like the pictures she’s glued on her vision board. She affirms 100 times that she is something special.
Outside Meryl’s mother is shouting at the landlord again that dreams take time so of course the rent is late. She is lighting sage and using a jade roller to smooth the lines that marked her face back before she started telling the universe what she wanted rather than waiting for it to be the other way around.
Meryl says ommm loud and deep, sucking the cosmos into her belly. She holds it silent as a blessing or a curse while she thinks of her mantra survive, though her mother says it should be thrive.
She imagines the universe sending her everything she’s ever dreamed of—a rock that doesn’t need to be cracked open to reveal what makes it shine, a tree you don’t tend just for money, stretching in order to run rather than holding still as a lotus.
She breathes until she is lightheaded, attracting the whole of creation there on the floor, bits of candle wax stuck to her yoga mat, cleansing green juice crusted on the desk.
The universe knows she is strong and capable and deserving of love. Her dream grows bigger and bigger while she grows smaller and smaller. Soon she is a speck, so small she simply disappears.
Sarah Fawn Montgomery is the author of Halfway from Home (Split/Lip Press), Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir (The Ohio State University Press), and three poetry chapbooks. She is an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University. You can follow her on Twitter at @SF_Montgomery