Southern Hospitality
by Alexandra Feliciano

It was ivory lace and I wore it around the room to cover parts of myself he had already become familiar with. I wrapped my fingers around a bottle of wine and began telling him a story of the only love I've ever known, wrong and right at the same time. He watched me pace, waving my hands over my head as I expressed what betrayal felt like in my own words.

My speech was slurred and my cheeks were flushed. I remember what his eyes looked like when he realized I had put more passion in this story than I did our intimacy. He knew I didn't love him. He who sat through this story, watched me undress myself for the weekend, watched me glisten under street lights smoking a cigarette outside of the motel room we had to ourselves. He could hear it in my voice that the love I had for my past was consuming me here and now.

He heard me cry in the shower, he watched me cover my face in makeup and parade around the town on his arm with another man on my mind. The night before I left him he told me a story of the only love he had ever known. His eyes glistened when he spoke of how she betrayed him and left him for dead. We knew we weren't in love with each other but the pain he experienced hugged mine tight around the waist and let my pain rest her head on his shoulder. His hope for the future made love to my fear for leaving the past behind, and two writers with heavy hearts were born, no one strong enough to hold them. Heavy hearts we often used as bate in a sea we were told was plentiful.

I knew I wasn't in love the night he stayed up to watch me sleep; the fact that we couldn't find enough peace in each other to close our eyes together gave me a stomach ache. He ran off early morning to find me breakfast while I pretended to sleep to avoid morning conversation. I smelled him come in trying to leave a lasting impression. We exchanged journals as some writers do, each scraping pen on paper, passages of how heavy our hearts were to leave one another for meeting in the first place was fate. The goodbye was brief, but he hugged me until he heard my last breath. I could tell, once I left, reality would sink in for the both of us: the medication we so desperately tried to find in each other like placebo pills, the numbing, came from our own disappointment. 

I boarded my flight. Sitting next to a woman working on her crossword puzzle, I opened my journal and read his message. The lines of his E's never touched, but instead looked like sticks in the sand, like he was signaling to the airplanes above him that he was the only one left for dead.

When I finally made it back home to my bedroom, I laid across my floor, listening to my mother turn the handle to my bedroom asking me, "How was your trip? Did you find what you were looking for?" Her face hoped that I hadn't, her eyes searching for reasons why I'd feel the need to run away from the nest so sudden. Her lips were bitten like she was nervous to hear my reply. "No," I mumbled, and her exhale took place of a hug, it was warm enough to comfort me and tell me it would be okay. She left me lying on the floor, and I realized: it took finding a person that was exactly like me in every way to know that I was not healing. I was sick, and the real medication was saying that out loud.

Packingtown Review – Vol.11, Spring 2019

Alexandra Feliciano Chicana poet from the west suburbs of Chicago. After having participated in open mic nights around the city of Chicago she began her blog, Hynaspit, and her poems on battling with anxiety and depression were featured online in Gum Magazine. Growing up raised between her grandparents’ traditional Mexican values and her single mother’s rise to modern day feminism, Alexandra continued writing poetry for the men and women who struggled to find a voice that was louder than the clash of two generations.

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