Lindsay Doukopoulos


After Prodigal Neighbor Boy, who stopped by to inform me of his mother’s pass­ing that morn­ing, left, I stuck my tongue to the cold­est ice cube I could find in my freezer. The clear burn on the rug of my tongue, the grip of my taste buds, the soft palate arch­ing, the lungs pump­ing to move the warm, inner air around the cube, my lips flexed out in an O, almost a kiss, for the trans­fer.

I dis­cover I don’t care about Old Neighbor Lady dying. When I was younger she was Dial Tone. Then she got old, Lover Boy left for col­lege, and, for the past decade or so, she’s been noth­ing more to me than Drawn Curtains and Trash Pick Up Tuesday.

Quiet Parents were not friends of hers, and I can’t remem­ber the last time we spoke—Old Neighbor Lady and me. So much for my famous mem­ory. Used to be I couldn’t imag­ine not remem­ber­ing something—I could flip through my days like a scrap­book. Here is the bowl of spaghetti and green paper hat with tight elas­tic chin string of Fourth Birthday; here is the nine­teenth time I helped Singing Mother fold dish tow­els; and here—the first time I waved a stick and made Stern Father laugh (Look, Daddy, tree bones!).

Conversations, in fact, were a spe­cialty. I was a black hole of dia­logue and could, if pressed, tran­scribe my life like a movie script. Word for word. It was not a gift. Angry Father dis­cour­aged the prac­tice. It hurts to be reminded of who you used to be, I learned, even if it’s who you were just a day or two ago. Even if it was just that morn­ing. Be tap water with Hot Father, said Whisper Mother, not ice.

Alone, some­times, I get stuck in the old words. That’s where the ice comes in. It was a trick Bird Mother taught me when her flap­ping and whistling wouldn’t bring me back—a lit­tle bit of pain to focus the mind.

Why didn’t Neighbor Boy get stuck? Will he miss Dial Tone in the silence? Has he for­got­ten every­thing I said? That I would wait for him? Does he think I am wait­ing for him still? Before the fog, which began after I lost Fist Father and Blue Mother in the Accident, I never needed ques­tions. I don’t feel as safe as I used to, now that mem­ory has begun to loosen its grip, still I’m grate­ful for the fog. Now I can lose whole days like how you lose stars by look­ing at other stars.

Work remains, how­ever, vast skies to cloud. I crack out another cube from the tray, place it on my tongue, lay my head against the cool inner plas­tic of the freezer, arms at my sides, close my eyes, wait to melt.


Lindsay Doukopoulos holds a Ph.D. in cre­ative writ­ing from the University of Southern Mississippi and teaches at Auburn University. She has pub­lished widely in mul­ti­ple gen­res and has been nom­i­nated for Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and, most recently, fiction—for a story pub­lished by Bat City Review in 2012. She has a short play pub­lished in Best American Short Plays 2010–2011, and work recent or forth­com­ing from Word Riot, West Branch, African American Review, Gulf Stream, and The Southeast Review.