Closing time, you hang out with the dishwashers who keep a bottle tucked behind the toilet tank in the employee’s restroom, something rotgut and lowdown that tastes of Lysol and piss. A shot or two does the trick, makes it so you don’t hate the cute girls with good teeth and cleavage delivering last-call martinis to rich guys while you’re stuck in the kitchen refilling condiments. You’re superstitious enough to pinch salt over your shoulder whenever you spill it, fool enough to whisper a wish. You marry your ketchups in a little ceremony—Who takes this woman—though it’s less a commitment and more like pickup sex, random bottles tipped together lip to lip, each bleeding quick and urgent into the other while their caps stew clean in scalding water. Later you’ll head to a bar where you’ll drink yourself pretty under the black light of the dance floor. Later you’ll find somebody to tip yourself into, an anybody who will empty you out and leave you clean.
Sarah Freligh is the author of four books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis, and We, published by Harbor Editions in early 2021. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Fractured Lit, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018) and Best Microfiction (2019-21). Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts.