We carried twenty-eight days of pills in small plastic dials. We
carried the dates of our last periods. We carried lipsticks and
pressed powder compacts. We carried self-defense-kitty key chains
like darling brass knuckles. Sometimes we carried keys to
buildings we didn’t live in anymore. Sometimes we carried Mace
and feared it’d be used against us. We carried smartphones that
carried the news, the weather, maps, emergency contacts.
Sometimes we carried each other. Sometimes we carried a woman,
the wife of a young lawyer, after she broke down in the cocktail
bar over a brown derby. Sometimes we carried her black eye.
Always we carried her story, the new baby with a wicked throwing
arm, a glass bottle of breast milk. We carried how leaving was
impossible. We carried how he was her boss before he was her
husband. We carried the scream of a woman in the college dorm,
the sound of a lamp crashing against the wall, her ex-boyfriend on
the football team who’d come back to claim her, the blood on her
lip as we held her and waited for paramedics. We carried our
mothers who carried us. We carried how they left until our fathers
stopped drinking. We carried each other’s pregnancy tests and Plan
B and Monistat in CVS bags filled with things we didn’t really
need: extra toothbrushes, deodorant, iced tea. We carried the
names of children we feared having. We carried tampons and
Xanax and books of poems. We carried our youths. We carried the
first men to pound fists against walls next to our heads. We carried
wanting to be wanted like that, like they’d break us if we weren’t
theirs. We carried fear each time we left. We carried our luckiness.
We carried what we hadn’t been charged to endure, our good teeth
and bones still in place. We carried bar tabs and a series of credit
cards. Sometimes we carried condoms and sometimes we carried
risk. We carried each other home and said that was safer than not
carrying each other home. Sometimes we carried the gentle tastes
of each other’s mouths. Sometimes the carrying was so gentle.