Question 1: What do you miss most? (also worded as, If you could have anything right now, etc.)
Week 1: Pot. Sex. But then I wasn’t getting much sex anyway with me and Lisa separated, was I?
Week 3: Beer. I really need a beer. I really need ten beers.
Week 5: You’re trying to get me to say Micheleo’s pizza, aren’t you? We get pizza here – not very good pizza, of course, but it passes. My mom’s chuck roast, now that I could kill for. I’m joking, come on!
Week 7: Crystal. The way she smells after a bath. How cute she looks when she rubs her nose in her sleep.
Week 9: Have you found a way to sneak beer in here? ‘Cause if you have, I could be real popular. At least for a day.
Week 11: The sky. The prairie. Big open space. Could you blow up a photograph of the view from my folks’ house out the back, that overgrown field? I swear some of the cars we used to play with are still in there somewhere. You could do it, right? I could put it on my wall.
Week 13: What do you want me to say? I miss everything, fucking everything. Waking up with Lisa. Hearing Crystal in the next room. Mom, Dad – even you.
Question 2: How are things with Lisa? (also, Have you seen Lisa? How’s Lisa? How are you two?)
Week 1: Okay, I guess. She showed up for everything, but we haven’t really talked. We’re good. I hope we’re good.
Week 3: She didn’t come this week. She said she had to work last minute, somebody got sick. I believe her, but I still think I ain’t lookin’ so hot to her these days, you know what I mean? Three years with good behaviour. When was I ever good for three months, let alone three years? But then it’s easier to be good in here, a little bit.
Week 5: I have no idea.
Week 7: I gotta get her back. I mean, she’s not gone, but she’s not with me, either. I want her to be with me like I’m with her.
Week 9: We talked, but just about what other people are doing – my folks, Crystal, even Mary. I ask about herself and she clamps up. I’m afraid to say anything about us. I say anything about us, that’s her opening – she’s gone.
Week 11: This time when she came I combed my hair. Don’t laugh. You know it’s not me. Or wasn’t me. I was just trying to clean up, look good for her, and what can I do in bright orange clothes? I can shave, and I can comb my hair. I can brush my teeth. I did all that. I don’t know if she noticed.
Week 13: Will you tell me what to do? Is there anything I can do?
Question 3: What are you going to do when you get out? (also, Got any plans for when this is over? What do you want to do when you get out of here?)
Week 1: Get drunk, I guess. Get high. Sleep it off and start over again.
Week 3: Drive! Music up, window down. You’re in the passenger seat.
Week 5: It depends on what’s up with Lisa.
Week 7: What do you want me to say? Start over? What do I know how to do besides drive a cab? You’re the smart one.
Week 9: Join the library? Hell if I know.
Week 11: Stop asking me, man. It’s too far off. I’ve got to keep my head here.
CARRIE ETTER's stories have appeared in Bluestem, Flash, and New Welsh Review, and next year a pamphlet of them will be published by V. Press. Her most recent collection of poems, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society. She has taught creative writing at Bath Spa University since 2004.