Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot | Monica Fuglei

Image: Brandon Holmes

Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot

We smoked first, remember? I thought
the tacos would cover our breath, 
rolled the windows of the Mustang down, 
opened the moon roof to look at the stars. 
We were so young, then – summer before
your junior year. I’d just bought my first Docs, 
wore baby doll dresses. Looking at the sky, I 
wondered if this was sisterhood, if we finally
melted our lives together, if I had a shred 
of what you had with your blood sister–if the 
Marlboros, the tacos, the sky, the way we passed
our cigarette back and forth–if this was sisters 
but no, it wasn’t the smoking, it was the drive-thru
fight when I forgot the mild sauce, when I backed up
the car, when I nearly hit the car behind us, 
the way you yelled and laughed, 
it was later when you rocked my daughter through the night
while I slept nearby, exhausted, it was later still
when you packed up your life to move home
after we learned our father was dying, 
it was in the ICU when we shared earbuds
the night before we said goodbye to him, 
the way our heads came together, tethered,
hospital curtains open, the way the stars 
                                                                remained. 

Monica Fuglei (she/her) currently teaches in the Department of Composition, Creative Writing and Journalism at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has recently appeared in Mason Street Review, a thin slice of anxiety, and The Hidden Peak Review. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s usually knitting or tweeting on #AcademicTwitter.