Written by J.M. Chadwick


Above are buzzing, white fluorescent lights, and underneath is me, the afternoon girl–full of shine and grit–portraying the American teenager. I am writing this down on receipts at the working man’s store. I am the working man; I am the afternoon girl; I am the American teenager. Golden hour is obstructed by various boxes of assorted sizes, but it still manages to sunburn my skin. It is 4:30 and my name is said over the radio, but it doesn’t sound like my name–my name has never sounded like my name. Watery coffee is still frosting my veins, but time has relapsed. Time is slow and this is why I have never liked being the afternoon girl. By the time I leave, it is dark, and the day has disintegrated. Time is unreasonable and this is why I am jealous of the morning girl and the night boy.


I am typing on a keyboard in a tangy coffee shop, and I cannot decide whether I find more comfort in my music with volume-turned-up-all-the-way-because-I-cannot-hear or the chatter of work breaks and failed study sessions. I am alone, but no one else is. The crinkling of brown paper bags and the beats of conversations that I can overhear remind me that the world is far more than me and my red backpack. Solitude and loneliness are not the same, I think. The view outside the tall window is all cumulus clouds and blue skies, people running stop signs, and my chunky white car–I think I forgot to lock it. I could fall asleep in the warm sunlight if I let myself. Staying here all day feels wrong, but the suburbs lack interesting places for the observers to go to.


It is the brink of the evening and I am in my cold room with my fountain pen and leather notebook. Writing sometimes feels more like the cause than the cure. Trying to locate where your love for something originated is a difficult task when you are notorious for having a bad memory. It doesn’t help that my phone is always on silent. Little everests of dark clothing are strewn about and you know, I think that black and navy go well together, actually. Getting up to turn my record over is an impossible task, but not as horrifying as the prospect of not being cool. Moments are thick but days are thin and I do not know if what I want is still what I want. God, I wish it were late July–thickets of green and stocky air–but January, the skeletal winter, always felt more fitting for a poet like me.