In a meth lab in the Ozarks they make banana pudding like the devil and make me eat it every spoonful. Sugar sweet. Warm, whipped cream, soft wafers. Banana pudding tastes best in the Ozarks.
There’s a meth-girl there, I don’t know her name, but she’s pretty. She wears a turtleneck sweater and sweat pants and pink hunting gloves—the only skin I see is that on her cheeks, red from the cold, bruised from meth-mishaps. The rest of her face is covered by thickly tangled brittle-blonde hair.
When I wake up I try to find her—everywhere I can, everyday for a month.
I tell my family that in the Ozarks, meth-folk bake a mean banana pudding and they make you eat it all, every bit.
“You see anybody we know?” says mom.
I pause to think. “Aunt Lilly. She was dressed like the fat one from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
She huffs. “Two completely different people,” says mom. Who never agrees with me about anything, never thinks anyone looks like anyone, probably because she’s been around everyone she knows for so long that there’s no way to compare someone like Aunt Lilly to someone from the movies. No matter how ugly.
“Yeah,” I say, and she beats me with the horsewhip because I don’t say ma’am anymore.
And that’s when I tell myself I’ll never talk about the Ozarks again, probably not much of anything else, either. I keep wafers, turtlenecks and tangled hair to myself, and look for them wherever I ride.
Garrett Ashley hopes to get into a good MFA program in the near future. He writes different genres, and has a soft spot for science fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in LORE, Foundling Review, Pear Noir!, decomP and Bartleby Snopes, among others.