the wax paper

Inverse of a Prophecy

The whole town under water. Not in the manner of a metaphor. Damns broke. Creeks surpassed themselves. And there was nothing safe to drink. My father swore he would buy a liter of Mountain Dew and bathe in it but nobody no matter could drive to the store. The roads washed out. My Auntie walked to the market. Water soaked her animal print to the bone. My mother called

I heard her at my kitchen table where I sat in the dark. Half my home here is that kitchen and a door shut to a room where the light is left on. Yes Mama. Oh Lord.

This isn’t my flood. I stayed gone four seasons. My bedroom there is another thing now. I didn’t eat one peach this summer and that is what I get.

And I have not been dreaming of water but fire. And glitter. And a Pentecostal preacher who travels village to village his tongue carving judgments in air.


I say you don’t know you come from a place until you leave it and I lie.


I don’t know how to come home I say without meaning to lie again.


It’s too obvious. Step one ask your father for money to buy a plane ticket.

Step two feet on a plane. Remember not to pack liquids in your carry on.

Wonder why you have to pack anything if what you are doing is going home.


There are causes not effects. You revile a place. Water falls. The light is left on.

Your beauty fades. You stay away. At a kitchen table. In the dark. You’re faraway

relative to someone. You say I don’t know how to come home.


How are y’all?  Stressed. I’d imagine. It’s my kitchen. Flooded? No, our house is dry. But we’ll need an act of God to finish the remodel now. Workers can’t come.

Roads washed out. Your Daddy’s sick of leftovers. Says he feels like a refugee

eating from the microwave. He’s about to have a fit.       OK.     

Can you drink the water there yet?                                                              No.


In a play rains purify. The plot washes clean. The characters return to their places. There are doors. Anyone might walk in from the world. A prodigal son. A sea-tossed lover. My father wild in the first act baptized back to sanity.


Glass broke by the lake. Water flooded windows. Children rushed upstairs. Mailboxes and dog houses floated away. Taps ran brown or dry. These aren’t my memories. I stayed gone four seasons. I don’t dream of water.


There are causes not effects. I dream of the circus. My auntie soaks in animal print. The light is on. My mother calls.  Water falls faraway relative. I fall in love with a checkout girl because I read the death toll nineteen. People who thought they could make it back. Trapped inside of vehicles. 

Annabel Lang is a writer and performer living in Chicago by way of the Carolinas. This spring, she’ll be playing Peter Faulk in National Cool Shorts Theater’s new play Cavette-Cassavettes and this summer she’ll be playing herself in Every Damn Day Again, a play she also co-wrote. She can be reached at for details, general questions, or astrological advice.