I Need a Ride to the Pharmacy

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Dad says to mom, I need a ride to the pharmacy

The car is too hot, maybe we should walk.

I’m left to watch my brothers and sisters discuss

teenage melancholy rumors and cigarettes.

I sip green tea out of a white cup with a broken

handle, watching the world through the window.

 

Mom and dad look into the cracked window

of the run-down pharmacy

where Dave the pharmacist complains about his broken

car. Mom and dad just want their pills. They walk

tthe counter and talk to Dave, who wishes he had a pack of cigarettes

right now. Dad says to Dave, I want my pills, and they discuss

 

Zoloft, Prozac, Valium. After dad has his pills, Dave wants to discuss

his car troubles. Mom and dad pretend to care but can’t stop looking out the window,

where they see a big rainstorm starting to form. Everyone is trying to keep their cigarettes

from getting wet. Mom and dad leave the pharmacy.

They talk about what they will have for dinner as they walk

back home in the rain. Silently, mom and dad think about their broken

 

hearts. They come home to us, and mom starts fiddling with the broken

faucet. Dad calls his old college buddy to discuss

politics. Brother is bored, pacing, he walks

barefoot across the stiff carpet, looking ahead at the wall, not the window.

Dad is about to swallow his pills when he realizes the pharmacy

gave him the wrong ones. He yells, curses, tries to calm his nerves with a cigarette.

 

I go outside to enjoy the rain and discover a crushed cigarette

lying in the flower beds. I sit on the pavement, looking at the broken

glass on the road. All roads lead to the pharmacy.

At the table with turkey and peas, I watch my family discuss

college and careers. I’ve heard that the eyes are the window

to the soul, but I see nothing. I walk

 

out of the room. I need space, can’t get it here, decide to take a walk

in the perfect sunset, under the pink clouds and invisible stars. Dave finally gets his cigarettes,

I breathe in the fresh air and he breathes in the smoke. I look in the neighbors’ windows

and see blue flickering TV screens, silence, and broken

promises. Fathers tell their daughters that men are dogs, they discuss

this for a while. Daughters say, in soft sweet voices, could you give me a ride to the pharmacy?

 

The next day, mom and dad walk back to the pharmacy.

On the way, they discuss the dangers of cigarettes.

They look at the cracked window again, and realize that everything is broken.

 

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