Poetry and Stories by Carissa Halston
The Powers of Self-Delusion
Have you ever had a one night stand?
I know what you're thinking. One night stand? Jesus, those are terrible.
They never turn out well.
It'll only lead to trouble.
Yeah, you should definitely steer clear of those one night stands.
Well, it's too late for me.
I've already had one.
With the most wonderful man in the whole wide world.
We're going to be together forever.
We met at this bar.
And he was really charming.
My friend, Allison, says that all the guys I end up falling for are invariably "really charming." But he was. The real deal. I mean it.
So he asks me.
"Can I walk you home?"
And I'm all like,
"I don't know. You're a stranger and my mom always told me to never talk to strangers."
"Don't worry. I was voted Most Likely to Take Home to Mom and Dad when I was in high school."
How's about that for credentials?
So we walked home.
Except I was wearing high heels and I was a little tipsy, so I had to lean on him a bit.
He walked...I hobbled.
So, we get to my apartment and I'm like,
"Here we are."
And we stare at each other and I'm having trouble remembering this part because it was kind of blurry already, but add memory to that and it's a fuzzy memory of a blurry vision.
I remember what he said though.
That I remember.
"Aren't you going to invite me in?"
And I said:
"Mighty presumptuous of you."
But then we were kissing and there was a fumbling for my keys and the door was open and we were inside.
See? I told you. Charming.
I have never been kissed like I was kissed by this man.
It was all very immediate and dire.
Like his life depended on it.
Like our life depended on it.
I remember the sex in little bits and pieces.
There were good parts and not so good parts.
The foreplay was infinitely better than the actual act.
In fact, the sex itself was brief and harried.
When I woke up this morning, he was gone.
Initially, I was miffed.
But he left me something.
It's a book.
But not the kind that's written.
The kind that you write.
I had a few reserves about reading these things about someone I didn't know.
Would I want someone reading my innermost thoughts?
And then I thought about when I was twelve.
I had a diary with a lock on it.
I didn't always keep it locked.
Only if I had written something that wasn't for peering eyes...
Or something I was ashamed of.
But if it was unlocked and someone else read it, that was my own fault.
There was no lock on this book.
So I opened it.
Pages of confessions, longings and laments lay before me.
Should I read them?
I read how he was in love.
A girl whose name is never mentioned.
He envisioned them creating a life together.
They'd have kids.
They'd vacation every year in
They'd be happy.
And I wondered, idly, if that girl could be me.
Did he write all of this last night?
Did he leave it here for me to happen upon?
Did he agonize over leaving me alone?
Did he love me?
I read those pages again and again.
I relished and memorized certain passages.
And I knew.
It was me.
It is me.
We'll be married in
We'll honeymoon in
We'll wander the world together discovering little things about other people and each other.
And we'll be happy.
"It's him," she whispers.
She holds her hand on the knob. Frozen.
She steels herself to turn it.
The door is open.
It is him.
She thinks that standing there, in that exact position, he looks just like he did that time they were on the beach. Catching fish illegally. She wonders if he remembers...
They face each other.
"Hey," he says.
"Hi," she replies.
"I think..." he says.
"I love you," she thinks.
"I left something here last night," he finishes.
"Oh?" she says.
"Yeah. Small black book. Something of a journal, really."
She smiles at the thought of the kind words he spoke in it.
"I was wondering if you'd realize it was gone," she says.
She goes to get it and returns to the door with it in her hand. She wants him to ask if she's read it. If she knows how he feels.
She sees an absence in his face. He looks directly at the book.
Slowly, painfully, she relinquishes it.
He takes it.
As soon as it leaves her hands, her memories of him fade.
"Thanks," he smiles.
"Yeah," she returns wistfully.
He turns and walks away. A memory tugs at her. Did she know him?
Watching him leave, she feels bereft of something but is unsure of what.
Fun in Garages (Vodka not Included)
Hanging out in parking garages
The well-off well-to-dos
Either sneer or clutch their wallets
Scared for your car?
That’s all we can take from you.
You, with your nose in the air,
Taking our dignity
our ability to overcome.Is it because I’m drinking vodka out of a travel mug?
The Day Job
When I was younger, my grandfather retired from his job of thirty-two years and they gave him a gold watch. My mom said he should’ve stolen something from the office. It would’ve been worth more, she’d said. What I got from that is, what’s really important isn’t what you put into a job. It’s what you take away from it. Me? I steal wedding rings.
There’s more to it than that. I mean, I provide a service for the lonely and loathsome. A little company, a little ambiance. Maybe some small talk and then it’s down to business. Then again, I guess that can be said for any job. However, the fellatio is an added bonus. A whore by any other name would smell as…
Anyway, just so you know, I make my own rates. The basic wine and dine escort service, no touchy is $50. Suitor pays for dinner.
Cutting to the chase, a blow job is $75, a rim job is $150. Just sex, your average mount-me-like-a-pony sex is $250. Oral+sex is $400. And if you want me to stay the night (i.e. sex+whatever, whatever being anal sex, golden showers, fetish, et al.) is $750. But, yeah, I steal wedding rings.
I think of it as vacation time. I accrue enough; I can take them to the pawnshop and take a week off. It’s only backfired once.
I could not get this guy’s ring off. He woke up and backhanded me right across the room. Stiffed me the night’s wages too. I was out of work for a week.
I don’t see what the big deal is…if the ring was so fucking important, if that symbol of his marriage meant so much to him, why was he with me?
People are so fickle.
An ‘Untitled’ Evening in Early June
Children pass by,
"We don't run outside, William.
Come and stand by Mommy.
You can't sit on Mommy's lap.
It would wrinkle her skirt."
forbidden from running,
they were born wearing khakis.
They'll always have
They were tailored to match their parents.
A woman strolls by and admires the iron tree.
'It's pretty, but $40,000?
Maybe some other time.'
Her shoes closely resembled
black licorice rope.
"Just because no one understands you
doesn't make you an artist"
comes to mind.
keeps trying to make eye contact.
We seek out our own kind.
I look around.
Laden with food.
The M.F.K. Fisher
kind of food.
The kind of food rendered in
still life paintings.
I look around.
This is how the rich live.
This is just a Thursday in June.
They're trying so hard.
The most interesting people here are
I flip off almost everyone I come in contact with.
It’s a disease.
It’s my gift to the world.
It’s my silent wish that, upon my offering, that person would turn tail, run to the nearest closed room, and fuck themselves.
I flip off my girlfriend every morning.
She wakes up, showers and puts her bra on to tease me. She knows as soon as it’s on, I just want to rip it off of her.
I flip her off from under the blanket before she leans in to kiss me goodbye.
I flip off the guy at the bus station with the unnaturally hot girl on his arm because his hair lays the way I wish mine would.
Words like “stinky” and “peachfuzz.”
Phrases like, “Do not enter,” and “Place tongue here.”
Carissa Halston, 24, is the writer/director of Cleavage (a
collection of one-act plays) and contributing editor at the online literary
magazine, apt. Her work has been published at Unlikely Stories v1.0, Fables,
Open Wide Magazine and apt. She has upcoming work in both the online andprint versions of Zygote in my Coffee. Her website is: