Drink Responsibly

This story is paired with Chapter I of Bulfinch’s Mythology. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

Working a spinning wheel is hard labor, especially when the threads are ropy with blood, and frankly, Clotho needed a day off because her back was fucking killing her, and besides every girl needs to party a little, even if her job is really serious, her being one of the fates and all, so she took a cab down from Olympus to a dingy discotheque in Athens where she spent the better part of the night downing bottles of imported champagne, cage-dancing to techno, and letting some hirsute slurp ouzo shots from her immortal belly-button, which is how she managed to wake with a migraine and the same hairy-backed douche honk-shooing next to her on some god-forsaken, B-grade hotel mattress, so she grabbed her underwear and tucked them into her purse, then hailed an early morning cab back to Olympus where she tried to maintain an iota of dignity when her g-string fluttered like a dead moth from her bag as she went to pay the cabbie—

classic, total classic fuck-up, she thought as she crept into the rent-controlled flat she shared with her sisters, Atropos and Lachesis, and tried to lie down for a few hours before she had to get back to drawing spindled lives out of fiber, but when she got up around noon to clock in, when she sat woozily in front of the wheel, nausea threatened to slay her, or at least make her toss that pretty good paella she had for dinner the night before, so she drank down an Alka-Seltzer and wandered over to the local pub where she eased up on a barstool and gossiped with a few demis while drinking a bloody mary, eating some gravy fries, and watching a dude javelin throw on the flat screen all in the hopes that maybe she could set the world spinning again if she could just treat the hangover of a lifetime—

   —this is what happens if you never give yourself a day off, and then when you finally do, the shit hits the fan, she thought, as she finally managed to pull it together enough to go home, put on her work robes, and gather the micro-thin hairs, which she licked and twisted, the wet birth, a baby girl in Redlands, California, and fed the filaments into the mechanism she set whirling with a foot pump, and it all seemed to be back to normal until she nodded off, twitched awake again, and snapped the thread—

­   —cut to the director of documentaries cruising his new Audi roadster up the Pacific Coast Highway on a late Sunday morning, rooftop dropped, the fog being gathered and pushed away from the beach by a steady breeze from the south, and he’s feeling pretty satisfied with the way things have been going lately, the condo in Santa Monica, his new Bernese puppy, the woman he met at a speed-dating event, how his film about elephant trainers is garnering real attention at all the important film fests, how a day could so perfectly unfurl for him like the road running through Malibu was a long scroll listing good omens written for him in a strong hand, which made it all the more shocking when he dropped his coffee, black-two-sugars, in his lap causing him to bat frantically at his crotch as he yanked the steering wheel hard to the right where a cyclist in red and gold spandex was finally PRing her distance, his front tire just catching the back wheel of her road bike—

—it was mile twenty-six, and the sun, now stripped of fog, was a warm palm on the back of her neck, reminding her of her lover’s blunt fingers catching in the tangles as he worked his hands through her hair, her head tipped back in his lap as they sprawled on the couch and talked over the details of their trip to the Greek Islands, their first big excursion as a couple, and she conjured up the stark white buildings with blue domes climbing the hills of Santorini, an old family from the island serving herb-crusted fish caught that day, and sea water the color of clear skies, and she saw her lover like any other night walk the rooms of his flat to set the lighting to something flush and moody, saw him switch on the stereo and twiddle the knobs until some kind of quiet rhythm came drifting out, saw him set out two globe glasses, saw him work the cork out of a wine bottle as he anticipated her arrival—

—heard the loud pop—

—then saw a splash of something red.

NBR4GreenfieldsmallSonia Greenfield writes across all genres. Her poetry and prose has been published in Rattle, The Bellevue Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, and The Best American Poetry 2010, among others. “Drink Responsibly” won second place in the Edward W. Moses Graduate Creative Writing Competition at USC.