Simple Parameters by Christian Bell

She wrote a list of the things she wasn’t supposed to do. Stay out past midnight without calling home first. Smoke cigarettes in the car. Drink alcohol more potent than 80 proof. Mom had died two years before so she had promised dad—alone, not dating, lost in mathematical theories and shows about cars—that she’d follow his simple rules as she finished high school, enrolled in community college. I was young once, he said, I know you will do certain things. These are just some simple parameters. Take any drugs beyond pot. Drive after having more than one drink. Be on the west side of town after dark. He told her that mom died from an undetected heart defect while staying overnight with her sister, but she knew that mom was having an affair, that she overdosed on heroin in a seedy motel room while her lover did nothing. Dad had hunched shoulders, small sad eyes peering through wire-rimmed glasses, a self-clutching demeanor like a pastor who knew he was losing. She was at best a C student in math. Car shows made her eyes tear with drowsiness. She kept the list in her purse, never showed it to friends. If she knew her words would not break him, she would say, it should be stricter, not so permissive. But she didn’t. She nodded while he talked combinatorics and the Poincaré conjecture, drifted asleep during a history of sedans. She kept the list and adhered.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Bell

One response to “Simple Parameters by Christian Bell

  1. This reads like a poem. Well done.

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