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Helen Franklin, at Print-Tartlette

Facing West, is the best...

Helen likes mornings they're soft just like her cats, Ai, Ai, and Ai. She thinks that getting to work early helps prevents fugue, that it reduces fuss, and contributes to overall bliss. But since last night she's felt the weight of a thing latched to her back and spitting anxiety at all of the deep piles of sparkle that she's raised her 2 good hands for. She unlocks the office door and opens her heavy morning window. She sits down and spins around while her messages play through. The dandelion out in the corner crook between the office windows is pitiless.
Johnathon Earle Lee was once a young man in black shoes. He lived down the street in the old brick carriage house near the end. Helen Franklin had known him since she was 15. She got stuck in the Widow’s when she missed an away camp that summer. Helen hadn’t known any of the other local kids since she didn’t stay here. Her parents sent her to astronaut school with the other ballerinas and middle men for a reason. At least that’s what her dad told Momma Jean. He smelled boozy and a little soft hanging on the iron fence in front of their house. She remembered his clingy blue shirt and the way his pants rode up while he gyrated his hips slowly.
Haster’ll love it, you’ll see... Jean, Jean...
Helen lost the train of her thoughts, the saccharin taste of her own mortality rushes her like an envelope. Sweet Sauganash, I don't have a husband she shouts with surprising distress. Springing forward in her chair Helen snaps up the trunkline, putting the cool brass handset between her cheek and the knob of her shoulder. She holds it in place there until she can pull out a pen. The open line’s prowling hum saturates her earbones.
Helen leaned over her desk. Tapping her pen in the margins of the calendar, she left a slow and confident message, I was wondering John, do you know it's my birthday? I could give you a hint but you’ll have to return my call... I’ve got a new dress in mind. Red’s not too much is it? It’ll be wonderful, see you... dunk, dunk... It’s time for you to make an honest choice, John E. Lee.
We split a bottle of cheap wine at Print Tartelette's. You moved back to String St. that summer after Momma Jean passed. So you stayed on the couch with the windows sealed shut. Then after dinner we murdered a bottle of bourbon on your front step. We turned up the radioset and danced between all of the songs that night. You and I talked about nothing good until we wound ourselves up enough to talk about everything bad, bad, bad. That’s how it went John E, do you remember any of it? 
We're too risky to be together and too reckless to be alone,
every word is stormy weather on a night when no one's home
This whiskey dents my grin and your flower's wrecked some beds
Let's kick this trauma in the teeth let's break it's fucking head


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