Philip Kobylarz: “The Temp”

The Temp

_____She was a professional run away-er. Everything she originally signed up for, she ended up abandoning, then wanting to return to, but was somehow unable to, thus, her past was a distant memory and little proof was kept, in the form of photos back when we had those printed, or letters, back when we wrote those, or documents proving that she was there at this certain time, back when we used to keep such things in boxes in our closets.

_____At first it was the convent, and to think that someone would ever, could ever, sign up for what her father called “the military” and actually walk into buildings where magical ghosts danced and people believed that you had power over them because you could talk to the ghosts is enough to blow or severely warp, any mind, however strong or normal it might be.

_____Cut to the island of Haiti and signing up to do medical work for the severely poor and being so scared about what she had gotten into that she walked into town and bought bottles of wine and hid them in her communal room to whenever the time was ripe she could drink them alone, not even in the company of others, not even going out to share the stress and tension of life abroad but to wallow in an escape deeper into the darkness that led her so far from the home she despised (a brick house in a village) and led her so far away into the unknown that she could no longer bear, so it became time to run away again.

_____Onto America where English lessons were paid for, a Visa won by lottery, a life moving from city to city to city in search of a place to fit in, in search of a way to pass the tests, a series of horrible, low paying jobs, a series of anonymous apartments, a series of an endless series of series.

_____And then that too needed to be escaped from, the midwest where she came to from the island because that’s where northern Europeans go when they don’t know any better. Off now to the coast where there was a promise of a free nursing program, as that is what she had been in the convent, never one day earning a penny for herself, not one day having a voice, not one day able to be herself, and the plan was now to bloom into the lovely flower she could be.

_____But it continued to be the same. Same bad living situations and now because rents were high, with people she barely knew. Jobs that always changed and left her wondering who would be next. Dates with men that would never even lead to anything except time not spent alone but in her mind, always time wasted, and a life of always wondering where she had gone wrong, what was wrong with her, and what the secret was to a happiness that if she even had for a moment she would invariably run away from, half-laughing, half crying.

 

Philip Kobylarz‘s work has appeared in Paris Review, Epoch, Poetry, and Best American Poetry. His published books are ruesNow Leaving Nowheresville, A Miscellany of Diverse Things, All Roads Lead from Massilia, and Kanji Amerikana.

 

 

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