Marisha Gene Hicks

The Dangers of

when my dad’s not in the backyard
smoking cigarettes and joints and grading high school English papers
I steal butts out of his ashtray
I steal his weed
he usually hides his weed
in a metal box under the couch
in a plastic film canister in his sock drawer
in a plastic baggie in the inside pocket of his corduroy suit jacket deep in his closet

I find some weed in my dad’s cowboy boots
after my friend tells me
her dad hides his weed in his cowboy boots

my mom catches me with cigarettes
and makes me write an essay
The Dangers of Nicotine
my mom catches my sister with weed
and makes her write an essay
The Dangers of Marijuana
the essays are due at midnight
I write mine at a party
on the floor
next to the couch
where my friends take bong rips

my mom writes lesson plans at the table in the den
we watch Princess Di’s funeral
we watch Friends
the first time I see Friends without my mom
I think to myself
last Thursday when Friends was on my mom was alive

my dad picks out three matching urns with silver dolphins
he says my mom likes
dolphins because dolphins are free

during the memorial service at our house
I hug my sister who is in shock
her arms are limp

I don’t wear eye makeup that day
I don’t wear eye makeup for at least a month
I stop smoking cigarettes
I don’t think my sister ever really smoked that much weed

I donate my mom’s wigs to the same American Cancer Society
where she made us pick up pamphlets
about the dangers of
smoking cigarettes and marijuana
for our essays

my mom never tried a cigarette
my mom did not smoke marijuana
my mom made my dad smoke cigarettes and marijuana outside
my mom died of lung cancer
my mom taught us the dangers of

Marisha Gene Hicks likes kittens and saxophone players. Her writing is published in Gravel and Peach Mag. Follow her on Twitter @cryybaeb.