You Need a Little Something Real • Julie Turley

People Holding 6 Comments

No more audiences. Not even for you, who always got in for free.

It’s only the moon now, and this morning, and two different penises have entered the same app on my phone.

My job, too, has moved online.

I want my new neighbor Donnie, who lives above me, to stomp around harder. A little something real over me, you know?

Yesterday, I welcomed myself to this building in an email. “Oh, and we have too much milk, if you want.” Just me tucked into first person plural like an Etsy vendor.

But Donnie does not need anything I can give. Nor any of these neighbors in a zip code where the median income is low and getting lower.

The thing we got in your code and mine, circled by a ticklish crown in your cough, your droplets. You sneezed. I heard you covered her with everything.

Just last July, I gripped the shoulders of the woman planning my birthday party, “I only want fun and interesting people there.”

I thought she could do that, the kinds of things that were rewarded back then with my loyalty and love.

Now I picked up the phone and said to her, “​Remember when entire bands thought they would never see the end of it, when you could stand on that hill and thought the city ended in Nevada?”

Remember when nights were just a flurry of coke that everyone inhaled at once? When you used to finger people with one hand, the other on the wheel, like Kenny Rogers?

Now I drop something in my Amazon cart every day, and it’s like Kenny Rogers, that feeling, or more like Elliot Smith, all strung out again, while a fine, good rain sweeps over Portland.

So this will be my year–starting right now–to stop being a douche.
This thing has made everything blank again.
This place.
Look at me making a margarita out of nothing, everything a substitute. You know, right, that all the high stakes in this world were always fake?

Julie Turley is a fiction writer and librarian, quarantining in Brooklyn. Her fiction has been published in the North American Review, Western Humanities Review, Citron Review, Otis Nebula, and other places. She is currently working on a book-length oral history of the Salt Lake City punk scene, circa 1977-1987

Comments 6

  1. So good! “Everything is a substitute.” What more can be said about these incredibly frustrating times?!

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