Happiness in a Bottle

I’m in my room, fashioned to inspire and calm me. A room fit for making love–good for creating and inspired by Woolf (the reason I am territorial of it… it isn’t selfishness I swear – its self-preservation). I have tea in my favorite cup which is white and simple. Some would say boring; I say clean. It can be whatever I want; it has no identity of its own. The room smells clean with a faint hint of incense, unique only because usually incense comes with a conglomeration of other smells it is made to cover. But this time it’s simultaneously clean and seductive. Bill Evans is doing his thing, permeating the room; Cummings is against the wall behind me breaking rules. Hurston is slightly left of center under my breast while Walker is higher up curling the hair on my head. The wax dripped all over my satin, but I couldn’t care less. I like things that start burning when you tell them to and don’t stop until they’re exhausted. Because they are like me or because I want to be like them?

Meanwhile relief in physical form, happiness in a bottle, is in my dresser drawer with the other components of my evening cocktail. It will help with yet another disease. As my counselor says, my body is and always has been suspect; it requires constant surveillance. But let me tell you what Hurston said before I continue:

She had found a jewel down inside herself and she had wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around. But she had been set in the market-place to sell. Been set for still-bait. When God made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks made them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

That said, when Mom found a similar bottle of happiness, Daddy said in astonishment, “she got her sparkle back.” My friend, Chol, said that when I feel good I light up whatever room I walk into, but when I feel bad it’s like a little bulb slowly burning out. Apparently that’s how he assesses my mood–by how bright the room is once I get there. When Pmac stepped on stage, and for him that was “all the world,” he almost blew our circuits. And when Nate swaggered in even his shiny teeth winked at you. So I’m going to try this, for them, for me… I’m going after my damn sparkle and if I drip all over everything while I burn then at least I’ll be warm.

Abigail Prang

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