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Still Bullets - Brandyce Ingram

The last time I hugged my mother was at LAX at approximately 10:35 PM. I was way too drunk, having just deplaned from an eight-hour flight from Honolulu. Altitude drunk is a different animal. I wonder if I would have hugged her had I been sober.

Her tits felt hard on my relatively-flat chest. I gave up bras at age 19. Her bullet nipples were still bullets. Her arms didn’t so much squeeze me as they did envelope me and her forearms delivered two courtesy pats like I needed to be burped. Her hands were doing god knows what behind my back. This was the woman who had put me in itchy things, I thought while hugging, while moisture spilled onto my cheeks, while I wondered if there was a leak in LAX’s immaculate million-dollar skylight ceiling, while I stiffened at the realization of real tears.

After cabbing home, I puked in the potted ferns outside my apartment building—both pots because I underestimated my bile’s (and alcohol’s) familiarity with my esophagus.

That trip, I released my dead cat’s ashes into the ocean on a palm leaf and sang “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” by Bob Dylan. I hummed that in the elevator up to the twelfth floor.

That trip, I had packed cocaine and weed into bottles of bubble bath, which I wrapped in glittery Congratulations! wrap and tied with ribbons, zipped into pig-tails on the blade of a pocket knife, just like my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Bickley, showed me. TSA won’t fuck with gifts—they’d feel bad.

That trip, I turned twenty-five. I was so out of it, I only remember half-images. Luckily, I’ve done enough drugs that I’m good at puzzling them together and/or deciphering the Freudian inkblots of flashbacks.

That trip, my mother sent bottles of champagne to my room, which, per my request, was located in a different wing of the hotel. We had dinner one night. The other five nights, she never showed. Didn’t answer the phone or text save for two times when she said she was “walking out the door” and “almost ready.”

I’d never been stood up before. [[Subtext: To be stood up by one’s mother is a mortal wound.]]

That trip, I had a shaved head. Maybe it was that. Maybe she was embarrassed to have a daughter who looked like a cancer patient or pre-conservatorship-Britney-Spears.

That trip, on the plane to the islands, she wouldn’t stop talking. I watched “Shallow Hal” in its entirety. The headphones didn’t drown her out completely, but Jack Black never gave up and I made a note to thank him if I ever ran into him at Ralphs or something.

That trip, while waiting at a sushi restaurant, starving and sucking on edamame pods, I watched a family of four eat and laugh and give affectionate nips and pats. A twelve-year-old girl wore a dress more suited for an orphan. I wrote a poem about a Hawaiian orphan who chose the ocean.

That trip, I hooked up with one of the bartenders who worked at the hotel pool bar. She was probably pushing 40 and had a tattoo of a deer on her chest. I met her on the beach and we swam naked first. We exited the water right before a brief thunderstorm.

That trip, at the hotel pool bar, she showed me off to the seventeen-year-old boys she had wooed with alcohol and tan, fake tits. I did blow under a beach towel, perched into a tent to block the sun and prevent any questions or eyes.

That trip, on the plane back, my mother flirted with a standard-edition ugly-white-bald baby across the aisle and told me I should flirt with it too. I watched “Shallow Hal” again and nodded at every flight attendant who wafted by with a head tilt, a question I couldn’t hear, and a drink cart or bottle in tow. The one who had better airlegs and a sharp nose always gave me peanuts and I stuffed them into the magazine pocket for some famished, nut-tolerant traveler.

The last time I hugged my mother, it was the hug you give at the end of a one-night stand before they gingerly close the door on your strung-out ass, not too fast or too slow, and you puke in the bushes.


Brandyce Ingram is a writer, tutor, and jazz-head in Austin, TX. Her work has appeared in High Shelf Press, Sand Hills Lit Mag, OxMag, An Evening with Emily Dickinson (Wingless Dreamer), and elsewhere. She is currently researching 20th-century lunatic asylums. Genre: Creative Nonfiction

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