1. A trailer, single-wide, set out under pines and live oak, and monthly lot rent 'til the day you die;
2. Your grandmother's lace curtains at the kitchen window and, on the sill, those three monkeys always on your back: see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil;
3. In the dirt yard, a bent aluminum lawn chair missing most of its webbing;
4. A good-sized plastic cooler with a duct-taped handle, for keeping beer and sodas cold and for sitting on (see #3 above);
5. A shoebox with a lid in which to put away, for good, all your girlhood dreams;
6. A man your mama warned you would come to nothing but trouble;
7. His recliner in the living room;
8. His porn by the toilet;
9. His truck, up on concrete blocks in the yard, sporting his Confederate flag in the busted rear window;
10. His skinny hunting hounds sleeping on the stoop;
11. His velvet paint-by-number Jesus painting hung over the living room sofa;
12. The camo Snuggie he gave you last Christmas;
13. Pride: not the kind of pride that "goeth before a fall," but the kind of pride that lets you pass – head-up, unscathed – through a sea of your "betters" as you read on their faces, There but for the grace of God. . . .
14. A strong back, strong arms, two good feet that can carry you to the bus stop and back again in any weather;
15. The prayer you begin every night as you fall into bed, Anywhere, Lord, but here. . .
16. The exhaustion of having spent all day, every day, elbow-deep in dishwater and detergent taking you under long before the bars close at 2 a.m. when the man will stumble in raunchy with beer and smoke, reeking of other women, to slur in your ear, Hey, Baby, you awake?
17. The way you have learned to feign sleep so as not to have sex with him;
18. The minute between when his infernal snoring begins and your insomnia returns;
19. The way you think, those nights, you hear the kitchen matches taunting you, Strike One. Strike Two. Strike Three.
20. And all the mornings, after a night like that, that begin with some other broken, barren thing coming to your door to borrow a cup of sugar.
photo courtesy of Markt3