The Withdrawal Symposium

Elizabeth Albright

At first, it starts soft, just an endless murmur of voices that blend into the white noise belched out by the old box fan, trailing dust worms and blowing the peppermint remnants of Bengay over the room. It grows, the shapeless din now a party. Glasses clink together and snip bits of conversation leak to Mama’s ears, comments about the Lavigne’s son or so-and-so’s dress, idle prattle that she remembers so fondly from her youth. When the music plays, her legs kick in time with the ebb and flow of violin strings, and she tangles her sheets until she is a root beer barrel in cellophane. She sweats like she’s been dancing for hours, teeth clenching and grinding, as if she endures soul-shattering agony. Does she spin on scattered glass until the soles of her feet are shredded into chum and mermaid fins? Swimming swans were more graceful than left-footed ducklings waddling with webbed toes. But she sold her soul for the love of a faithless man, her spirit vapor and bound to earth for centuries, the span of years expanding each time one of her children screams. She screams back until her voice bleeds out, and all that remains are the crevasses on her raisined lips, each a crimson river against parched banks. The room shakes, but the only noise that remains is the whipping of the dusty fan.

Spinster and future cat lady, Elizabeth Albright is a nontraditional student currently in her senior year at Lock Haven University. Sparking as an interest in her formative years, she has been writing since childhood, and hopes she can help others find their voices as authors and poets.

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