The doors aren’t closed to hold back the water. I can still procrastinate, no matter the situation, no matter the number of stars in my sky.
In June of 2007, a lit cigarette burned down a furniture showroom in Charleston. Thirty minutes after the first call, a flashover ignites the entire interior of the building. Nine firemen die. They don’t recover the last two bodies for nine hours.
I type “flashover” in the search bar, and up come videos of burning Christmas trees, lamp shades that melt and hang like Dali’s watches. The tree burns in seconds, lighting like a torch, and in thirty seconds, the room is split in half, smoke and fire. The sofa takes longer, a full five minutes to get really going. They say that when some sofas burn, they give off toxic fumes. Sometimes they don’t have to be burning. Like Barbie dolls painted with lead paint or an award-winning Australian toy that turns into drugs for date rapists. That stuff they spray on sofa cushions, they use to treat multiple sclerosis.
My phone buzzes, and I hit the snooze button. I grab a large orange capsule out of the small bottle and swallow it without water. I can feel it drag dry down my throat, and hold my breath, expecting it to get stuck. All antidepressants warn about the risk of suicide, which is why I’m taking it in the first place.
When I was in high school, I had to have a psych eval before getting on a topical drug for severe acne. A few months later, a pimply-faced teen flew a Cessna into an office building in Tampa. It was not even four months after 9/11. Someone made a joke about the terrorists being low on funds. I’m sure someone laughed.
Matthew O'Leary has had work featured in Birds Piled Loosely, Felled Limbs, and Fiction Crowd. He lives in Columbia with his wife. He makes no apologies for his adorable t-shirt, which he was told means something like "Meat Happiness"