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I keep standing by this window, smoking cigarette after cigarette, waiting for Astor to get home. It’s been going on for weeks and sometimes I don’t notice it until Astor pulls up and I’ve been standing at the window for hours.


Smoking feels like something. I like sucking deep, scratchy breaths of smoke into my lungs and blowing it out, slow. I smoke when I’m cooking, when I’m cleaning, when I’m fucking sometimes. Juke hates it but there hasn’t been one time, not once, where he stopped having sex with me to take a cigarette out of my mouth.


It feels like something. And nothing feels like anything anymore, not even the things I used to have.


“Aunnie, why smoke?” Astrid looked up at me, glanced from the cigarette in my mouth to my neck to my face, and coughed. The little brat was always coughing. I patted her head, barely touching it through all that hair, and took another deep breath.


“I like it. I’m grown, I do what I like. You’ll get to do that, too, if you learn how to talk. Otherwise, your Mom’ll kill you before you get old enough to smoke. Now get out of my face.” Her eyes got big and she turned to rejoin my daughter in the living room. Truthfully, I was the one who wouldn’t make it to see a grown and thriving Astrid if I didn’t straighten up. Astor was as regal and intense as she’d always been, maybe worse so with the little brats. She’d strangle me to death if she saw me smoking near one of them, even my own. But I couldn’t seem to move from the window. I couldn’t seem to turn, to check on the girls, to start our lessons, to do anything.


I used to enjoy homeschooling them. I don’t work until pretty late most of the time and most of my research was done on weekends. Kids are wastes, yeah, but it was fun seeing how excited they got about the most basic shit. Peaches are FRUIT? WHAT? Bugs can communicate with each other? WHAT?! But something was changing lately and the only thing I still enjoyed were the cigarettes. Even work was getting tedious and draining if it didn’t have to do with Astor’s condition. If it didn’t require Astor sitting in front of me, me drawing her blood, me talking to her. Sinking into her…or something.


Women had children for some reason. We raised them and had to feed them every single damn day and had to change diapers and be healthier and it just…bored me. My own little full haired demon ran around shrieking the alphabet and getting stuck in things all the time. Juke had a smile on his face every time he pulled her out of an appliance or stopped her from choking to death and I just grabbed another box of cigarettes and got lost.


It wasn’t bad, not really. At least, it wasn’t so bad before. I didn’t want to be a mother but we were like a little tribe so it wasn’t bad. And dressing the kids up, even Astor’s older son Moose, was so fun. They soaked up style like wet bread. What was changing? I wasn’t depressed. I just didn’t feel much about it.


I finished my cigarette, staring out the window. Astor pulled up and I damn near ate the cigarette butt trying to get it in the ashtray. She seemed to morph out of the car, posture of an impatient goddess. Bless the woman and all her accomplishments but she can’t park. How someone can park crooked in a driveway is beyond me.


Watching her felt odd. It did, as of late. It felt like I was zooming into her, slowly pulling her soul out of her body, slowly creeping into her skin. It felt like I lived her, lately. I watched her close the door, felt her hand push the metal shut, felt her hand trailing my skin…


“Baby, you okay?” Juke stood behind me with our monster, held upside down, screeching in joy. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate.


“Astor…I like her outfit today.” He laughed a little, not sure how to respond. I think I said the same thing, from this same spot, yesterday.


I keep standing by this window, every day before Astor gets home, and I don’t know why.