In the Forward to the Back, In the Time Machine, In the Back to the Forward, In the Summer of 2019

I: Forward to the Back

In the forward to the back, I am at the casino. At the casino, there are three lovely things to bet on.

1.     I can bet on the men at the casino who ask to see my ID, who call me baby, who demand to see my ID.

2.     I can bet on the drinks that will hit me harder than a proper-hand at Blackjack, how if I time it just right I can make a $25 bet become three free drinks—a White Russian, a Pina Colada, and a Walk Me Down.

3.     I can bet on that $25 turning into $250, it creeps up and down, and down doesn’t feel so down when I’m high, when I feed pieces of paper into a pretty slot-machine that sings to me. No matter how much the total goes down, it still takes what it’s owed.

Always, always bet on one of those men being behind me, while I giggle with my thighs out, and my hair down.

I let them watch because I am a carefree babe at the casino.

II: Time Machine

I am in the car.  

Middle-seat, back-seat swooning as my back presses against the leather, my neck against the edges of the headrest. This is where the cares that are in the back to the forward begin to catch up with me.

When I close my eyes, everything around me feels like a spaceship. No, like a time machine, and I am so far ahead that I’ve already put myself back in the forward to the back, forward to being a carefree babe at the casino, again. The back-seat swoons sway me, serve me as echoes of Coloda’ed-Russian-Walks swerve through my veins.

When my friends drive forward, I feel a kind of pull.  

I ask my friends to take me back, I tell my friends to take me back.

We can’t, they tell me. We are going forward now, they say.

III: Back to the Forward

In the back to the forward, I am at home. At home, there are three lowly things to lose myself on.

1.     I can lose myself at the sight of men who call me baby, where the asking is a little more demanding, and the demanding is always just demanding as its always ever been.

2.     I can lose myself at the sight of $25 alcohol. How cast in the light, it reveals the sadness of sipping from a bottle where the shots I sometimes take are not backed up with the bells and sing-songs that claim how much of a winner I am for losing myself a little more each time.  

3.     I can lose myself on the $25 at the grocery store, that quickly turns into $250. How it creeps up and up and up and makes me feel down. When I slide pieces of withered-up paper into the checkout machine, the only song that it sings is a saying on the screen to check to make sure that all items have been scanned. No matter how much the total goes up, it still takes what it’s owed.

Always, always lose myself on one of those men being behind me. So, when my thighs are out, I check, check, triple check the way my skirt falls behind me, and I let my hair stay down because hair can be an extra kind of covering.

I let them watch me because I am a careful babe outside of the casino.

Exodus Oktavia Brownlow is a Blackhawk, Mississippi, native whose writing aesthetic includes purposeful horror, character-driven fiction, and nonfiction writing that aims to create a healthier world for us all. Exodus has a healthy adoration for the color green. She is currently working on a novel.

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