Things to Do

by Leah Browning
She writes a series of notes to herself
and posts them all over the house.
TAKE BLUE PILLS next to the refrigerator
WEAR DEODORANT on the bathroom mirror
BUY ANT TRAPS AND M&MS on the front door.

Every day she adds a few more notes,
until the wallpaper is obscured by yellow
and blue slips of paper as high as she can reach.
Many begin with the words REMEMBER
or DON'T FORGET THE TIME THAT.

She's always been intimidated by diaries,
all those empty pages to fill.
A quarter sheet of paper, though, or
a pale pink Post-It--those she can manage.

Her son comes to visit.
He winces at the words
ANSWER TELEPHONE on a pad next to the phone
and EAT!! taped on the black frame of the television.
The whole house smells like burnt toast.

After he leaves, she writes TELL HIM YOU LOVE HIM
on the back of an envelope,
but she can't decide where to put it.
When he comes back, she thinks,
she will tape it to his chest.  In the meantime,
she folds it in half and adds it to the layers
of paper on the south wall of the living room.
Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and two chapbooks: Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009). Her third chapbook, In the Chair Museum, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2013. Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications including Queen’s Quarterly, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Corium Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, Wigleaf, and Brink Magazine, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies. “The Costume Wedding” is the third in a series of three linked stories. The companion stories, “Strange Men in Bars” and “Keeping Up Appearances,” were published in 42opus and Lily, respectively. In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review. Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

© 2007, Leah Browning