It's 8:59am and I stir my coffee counterclockwise for good luck. I wait until 9am to take my first sip and I finally know what sequence is. I decide to go to the DMV since I can't afford a movie ticket at the moment.
A woman at the DMV is begging Doctor Blank to motivate her relapse. The sight of her orange bonnet makes me itch and everyone smells like a federal holiday. A child stares at me while I make constellations with my mosquito bites. Everyone is waiting for their number and so it feels like a deli counter with televisions. The television programs advise us to call 1-800-???-???? in case one doesn't have their insurance card during a nationwide catastrophe. VHS footage of an American flag comforts us during this stressful time.
I walk outside to check the contents of my purse and a woman stands next to me. She lights a cigarette and licks her lips like a file clerk and I think she knows I'm looking at her.
"Smoking is very acceptable in China", she says. Her Yorkshire terrier pops out of her straw tote bag and sneezes. I bless the dog as a courtesy and the woman rolls her eyes.
Now I can say I got sun poisoning in October.
I go to the Trader Joe's next door and I taste licorice soda for the first time and I'm having a reality crisis. Someone drops a coin next to me and says I should pick it up because I'm young and they're paying with a senior discount card and non applicable coupons. I oblige and offer them a licorice soda.
A patron reads the news aloud from her phone: Mass home invasions across the state. Major accident on the expressway. Kylie's pregnant. The opioid epidemic. I leave the store and I keep teeth in my pocket for a safe drive home.
Arielle Tipa is a writer and editor who lives near a haunted lake in New York. Her work has been featured in (b)OINK, Alien Mouth, and thread, among others. She currently runs Occulum, a journal of the unabashed and unorthodox.