Drive-thrus and Crepe Myrtles

By Allie Scully

The cat sitter stared at the vagina painting. She was actually quite fond of it; the colors were good. Bright red, pink, orange, and yellow blobs clustered together at the opening of a very red, pulsating sliver. She imagined this was what HPV looked like under a microscope. The shape resembled a dancing flame, like the Italian horn charm a boyfriend had given her years ago. She’d mistaken it for a chili pepper, and it now hung impotently on an old keychain. She needed to see a gynecologist. 

Outside, the gravel driveway had darkened with rain. It was only 82 degrees, which was low considering the past several days had been well over 100. She did not want to water the garden and decided that the fair weather afforded her a walk. The sky was still cloudy, which kept the sun from beating down on her raw neck. She’d been lying out by the pool every day in direct sunlight but still felt protective of the back of her neck. Against explicit dermatological advice, whole afternoons and evenings had been spent floating from end to end of the pool on a float she’d blown up herself, which now lay wilting on a patch of grass. The pool water was warm and had since turned green, which felt like a betrayal. 

The canopied residential block rang with the psychotic mating calls of cicadas. This was a sound that never seemed to let up, even for a second—it was constant, and maddening, when paid attention to with any degree of consciousness. All the houses on the street were nearly the same in size and presentation with brown and beige garage doors, except for one that had a brand-new front porch built entirely from limestone, and another that sat blankly behind a brutalist, robotic-looking mailbox. The houses were otherwise unassuming, humble, well-loved, and lived-in with ADT signs in front yards and American flags hanging from front porch beams. Daisies, marigolds, a few resilient tulips, and sports team signs were planted in nearly every yard. Purple and pink crepe myrtle blossoms littered the ground, flooding gutters like fallen ash, spilling over driveways. Each house felt to her like a Macy’s 4th of July window display: a picnic table in one yard, a flagpole in another, a tire swing, Adirondack chairs on porches. Peach trees, lemon trees, and lime trees were shrouded with nets to prevent theft, and recycling bins sat empty on sidewalk curbs. The public elementary school’s chain link fence had been stuffed with blue plastic cups spelled out to read, We love our garden! A cartoon falcon stood dressed in a similarly hued royal blue shirt with matching sneakers, pointing to a neon flashing sign: happy 6th birthday, Beckham! A crosswalk. 

Would this ever be her life? She’d left a towel outside on one of the pool chairs overnight, and it had gotten rained on. She felt judged by the mini SUVs that passed her on the street. Were they mad at her for walking around in a romper she’d been wearing since college? Her mother said it made her look like a Jehovah’s Witness, not understanding the irony of women on the Lower East Side who really do want to look like they are dressed for either Sunday School or a road trip with Humbert Humbert: a generation of women infantilizing themselves because they are afraid to grow up. She was one of them. 

Later, she had to drive the cat to the vet because large chunks of fur had disappeared from the top of his head and he was acting lethargic. Her own ancient, overgrown family cat had just been put down due to a tumor growing between his shoulder blades, and she hadn’t gotten to say goodbye. Drive-thrus and crepe myrtles would be a great title for a Lana Del Rey song, she thought, recalling the guitar permanently propped up in a corner of her bedroom. She tuned the radio to a classical music station for the cat—an elementary school choir teacher had said once that classical music calms down animals in distress, and she’d filed away this offhand piece of information as if it were an indisputable fact. As she pulled unevenly into a parking spot, she realized the veterinary urgent care was in the same shopping center as the strange boutique she’d bought her prom dress from more than fifteen years ago. She cut the ignition and felt the silk of the dress slipping over her head like bathwater. 

About the author

Allie Scully is a writer and filmmaker with an MFA from Brooklyn College. She enjoys writing deep character studies from aggressively feminine, sometimes absurd points of view.  She writes fiction, non-fiction, stage plays, and screenplays.

next up...

Portrait of Home as an Onion

By Ellie Laabs