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THE RESERVOIR / Deb Allbery That summer she pretends to oversleep, practices looking the other way. She had not planned to come home but it was deep habit, no danger, and maybe some of the endings she needed might be found there in Enterprise, Ohio. Mostly she wants a week that repeats itself, the neutral color scheme of her bedroom, work hard enough to make her rest and deserve it. She is tired of waking up and waking up. Days, she works transplanting, cashiering, at a greenhouse, evenings she shelves books at the library. The people of Enterprise read mysteries, westerns, Avalon romances, diet books, how-to's, fix-it's. Sometimes she stands camouflaged in stifling Number Five House amidst geraniums, ivies, schefflera, and thinks about breathing. Sometimes, shelving, she half-hides among the 800's, leans against the cool bindings of Goethe or Plato. Walking, she passes these signs all summer—one is painted in red on a ripped bedsheet and hangs from an upstairs window: "You've had it? You're the problem!" And this hand-printed and taped to someone's front door: "Day Sleeper." In the Christian bookstore window, a black-on-white placard: "Does mortality umit you?" Sometimes she thinks she tastes poisons 30 · The Missouri Review in her food. On bridges and overpasses she imagines her brakes going out. None of this frightens her, she has nothing against death. Actually often she wonders what still holds her down, what keeps her here. She believes when the time comes death will just float her loose— the earth will release her without a thought, a child's hand forgetting its balloon. From the top of the reservoir as she runs she sees to her right the south edge of town, then the woods surrounding Raccoon Creek, the ball diamonds, Fultz's Garage, wheat, corn, Al's Shop-Rite. And to her left the blue five-sided water, the dock they would dive from to break the law, grim fishing men on the white stones or out in silver boats. And alongside her, beer cans, rubbers, torn cardboard, bleached crawdads, and she runs it again and everyday, for it's only from this height and pace she can love her townSometimes she meets high school friends again. They're always changing their names. Some have regular nicknames, like "Moose" or "Mumbles," but mostly it works this way: Greg is called Ernie, Mike is Rick, Gary becomes Greg. They've done this for years. That summer even James Dean begins to look old. She grows impatient with his fists and stammers. Damp air loosens the photographs from the walls and James Dean pointing his finger at her slips behind the bookcase. Beneath the nightstand in a loose roll is James Dean crucified, his arms hooked and limp over a rifle, his head bowed. Summer hangs in the trees, in my hair. Deb Allbery The Missouri Review · 31 I walk slow from the back to the front of each day and don't recall much, memory is hard. Time passes this way: vision jarred to the rise-fall offootsteps, space taken by words or food in my mouth, loud people moving in and out of range. At night the hissing of tires on Maple Street, long sighs close to my window. And the far trains, their loose clatter, their old held-out note— Some nights she just walks around inside the house. She plays records and dances a slow minute now and then, or else slumps in a large chair and stares out at the kids chasing and closing their fists over fireflies. Her mother in passing remarks once or twice how she should be grateful she's not married, tied down, as if that were the subject. As if they'd been talking. And she shrugs a nod because it's a reply. And her mother says don't worry, the right boy will come along. I wrote graffiti in a Chicago restroom— I added together our names and wrote 4-ever. I wanted to do that when I was twelve but didn't, there's so much we're not allowed or kept from. Sometimes I still...


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