“all the women. / in me. / are tired.” (nayyirah.waheed)

a character sketch by

McKenna James

She drops her pink, unicorn backpack right there in the entryway of this apartment she may never pay off. Without the weight, she practically floats to the couch. She deflates with a sigh, relieving her body into the cushions. She takes off her glasses to rub her overused eyes. Her hair-bun catches against the couch cushion as she repositions herself, so she reaches around to tug the pony out.

Then she lays there counting:

1… 2…

She knows she only has

… 10…. 11…

about 300 seconds of release before the sitter arrives

… 25…. 26…

She talks about how much she loves her kids

… 41… 42…

all day long. She just

… 58… 59…

has started to realize that her life

…. 74…. 75…

is composed of working moment after working moment

…. 88…. 89…

at Lakehead, at the Regional, at her mother’s bedside, under her kids’ hands

… 105… 106…

But she visualizes school dominoing into

… 116… 117…

a better job into

… 128… 129…

money into

… 140… 141…

the finifugal dreams she fills this free five minutes with!

… 155…

The doorbell tolls throughout the apartment. 145 seconds early.

Yet she smiles reminiscently as she puts her thinning blond hair back into its bun, steps into the entryway, and moves her daughter’s old, pink, unicorn backpack—the one that now holds university textbooks—away from the door to end her unsanctioned break.

Works Cited

nayyirah.waheed [Nayyirah Waheed]. “All the Women.” Instagram, 27 Sept. 2017, www.instagram.com/p/BZjNAlcB7gl/?hl=en&taken-by=nayyirah.waheed. Accessed 30 Sept. 2017.

Blurb to include with the article: (don’t publish this line…)

Check out this week’s student submission from Mckenna James. It’s a sneak peek at the incredible content that will be featured in the 10th anniversary edition of the Artery, Lakehead University’s literary magazine. The latest edition of the Artery will be available for purchase this April in the Bookstore and The Study.