I Am Doing Everything I Can To Leave You Alone, Including

by Sarah Rose Etter

Basting uncooked turkeys repeatedly, smashing all the spiders so the worst bugs come to give me company, gnashing my own teeth until they break and then eating those own teeth, smelling things I imagine you do or will eventually smell like and will continue to smell like until we’re both dead. That scent is both repulsive and the most beautiful smell human nostrils could ever dream of.

I am handing you multiple gifts at all times, and those gifts are in this list: A lifetime supply of room-temperature butters, bags of very green apples which all have leaves sprouting from their stems, eternally shiny silver car mufflers, one carton of very cheap cigarettes which I believe you will enjoy, the center of a very important star named after a very important person and the documentation to prove it, a pile of my own shedded hair which is thick and red and possibly valuable to other peoples or cultures, a single memory of you, on a bed, without me, thinking about me, considering me, making me a thing of weight, a memory that never happened but should have once. I am giving to you so you will always have it, finally.

I am doing more than wishing you well, I am creating a new kind of wishing which is doing and in that doing I am: Arriving at all places before you to make sure that all places are fit to welcome you, that there are always cupcakes and crescendos waiting for only you, that all people you meet are smiling and telling you that you are more handsome than the most handsome men alive combined into one very large man, and that you are more intelligent than anyone who has ever walked this crumbling, meager earth. I am doing this because I know those two things to be true, I always have and always will, at least for now.

I am watching you from: Many places, many windows, any windows, the way you walk is entrancing, I do not know how you move and remain so wonderful at all times, I do not know how your jaw manages its own sculpture, how you carry the fat weight of greatness on a frame of only human bones. I do not know what your insides look like but I picture them frequently and worship their redness and the way your blood flows in a superior way to all other bloods. Yours becomes the only blood, the one true thing in this world built out of cells and becoming you.

I am doing the simplest things: Memorizing your name backwards, masturbating with your fingers, wearing your clothes and dancing the way I have watched you dance, then floating in your swimming pool while you are away on a business trip I have returned early from. I am floating and saying your name lightly barely with my lips until it becomes a chant and then a hum and then my name and then you saying my name and then our names together, a new buzz.

Sarah Rose Etter’s chapbook, Tongue Party, is available for pre-order from Caketrain Press. Her work has appeared in PANK Magazine, The Collagist and more. She is a graduate of Penn State University and the Rosemont College M.F.A. Program. You can find out more at www.sarahroseetter.com.

I hear as much as I see in “I Am Doing Everything I Can To Leave You Alone, Including”–perhaps because the narrator announces all she is doing and in this way bounces the visual into the aural. I wonder, as you write is there a sense you value most, or think of first? As far as senses go, I value the visual. I want a story to be like a painting that’s never been painted before, a combination of objects that creates a new image for the reader. Besides, why wouldn’t you give someone you loved a beautiful new car muffler? For me, it’s just a way to reintroduce a theme we’ve all dealt with before in what I hope is a fresh way. And I hope it works.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


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