Little Orange Pills by Harmony Neal


Trapped in cycles, I see the patterns, but can never change them—stop that inevitable barf.

I try to open my mouth and explain what is happening, and how I don’t want it, but it’s all I know. I look for a connection, one sweaty palm thrust out, but the fatherly faces go blank, admonishing,

Fishing for pity, they say, grow up.

What a disconnect from what I intend with my words and how they are perceived in someone else’s ear, and I can’t cross that bridge.

So I slouch back down in my seat, confirming to cold ears what they heard all along that I never said.

I reach down my throat and feel my organs, testing for failure, looking for the malfunctioning parts, an answer, but they are slippery and strangely cold like vomit that comes after drinking too many glasses of water.

I feel I’ve gone the wrong way again.

But then I try to live.

The man at the helm never lets me off. Sometimes he switches tracks and it’s a kiddy ride, slow enough to watch a brown bird pecking popcorn on the lawn, each feather distinct and trembling. But then he spits out a tobacco loogie and gets a glint in his steel eyes and I know what’s coming—I’m back on the loops and dips, not recognizing the scenery, even though it’s mostly the same. I fall over but the bar keeps me in my seat as I fly upside down then right-side up, my lungs in my mouth as I descend a slope, a pitiless falling falling falling, crashing hard at the bottom. I grit my teeth for the long slow chug back up, organs settling on top of each other; I close my eyes and clench my fists until there are little moons lining my palms—steadying myself against threat of flipside—falling farther faster harder, no bottom in sight, everything one vast smear as I try to crack my eyes against the wind. I reach my hands out to the rubberneckers on the sidelines: they watch me tumble and soar while they pluck their manicured beards. One day I might derail this cart for good, like Virginia, but there’s so much I haven’t seen, it all repeats. I grip that greasy chipped rail and wait for the tracks to switch. Every time they do I am all alone, again, fingering the pills in my pocket for some day, some day.

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8 Responses to “Little Orange Pills by Harmony Neal”

  1. D. Grayman says:

    I may not be on the same roller coaster as the author but I sometimes feel just as misunderstood and helpless. Good story.

  2. Curly Red says:

    Real, raw and powerful. And done with exacting, rich, textured prose!

  3. B-kun says:

    I appreciate the wholly embodied narrator. Nothing but body. Thank you so much!

  4. Donna Hole says:

    This is emotive. So much confusion and need.

    ……..dhole

  5. JM says:

    I love the (literally and figuratively) visceral imagery of the piece, particularly “I reach down my throat and feel my organs, testing for failure, looking for the malfunctioning parts, an answer, but they are slippery and strangely cold like vomit that comes after drinking too many glasses of water.”

  6. Natalia says:

    Beautiful

  7. Meg Harris says:

    Gut punchingly good.

  8. Kathie @ Chico Writers Group says:

    Very vivid, raw, deep. The roller coaster scene at the end was especially well done, moving beyond the overdone to reach out and take the reader in. Nicely written.

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