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DJ’s addictions always begin in the same place—excitement. DJ is first excited over girls. This we feel is natural. DJ dates the girls and dumps the girls, calendar girls we call them because he clicks through them on a monthly cycle. More like period girls, DJ says, and at first we laugh because this is funny, talking about menstrual cycles with a 16 year-old boy. DJ starts to smoke—blowing smoke rings excites him. Hanging a cigarette out the Altima’s window while driving excites him. This is not so funny, but what can we do? We are 50% parents. We are, in reality, weekend parents, as—according to the very inexpensive therapist brought in to de-traumatize divorce and affairs—it is more stable for the children to stay in their own home. DJ’s breath smells like smoke and then it smells like smoke mixed with something else, something pungent and of course it is Captain Morgan or Johnnie Walker Red, and we say DJ, you are grounded, but of course he is only 50% grounded, or maybe 22% grounded because he is very slippery and charming and DJ and October switch to odorless Stolichnaya vodka and Altoids, and we begin to breathe again. DJ and November fuck on our couch. DJ and December—who happens to be the 15 year-old virgin across the street—fuck under our pool table. The fucking has to stop, DJ, and we think he is listening but in case he is not we buy Trojans and put them in his 50% nightstand. DJ’s breath begins to smell again, and this time it reeks of pot, and we are not—NOT—having this and this time we have to tell your mother, as if the promise of communication with DJ’s mother will stop anything, but of course it does not, and DJ’s excitement over pot transcends his excitement over December, who in fact leaves him before the month is out, before Christmas, for fuck’s sake, and DJ shoots up into January, calendar-girl-less, but he opens a whole new gateway of excitement whose symptoms we can no longer diagnose, and his 50% slips to something like 12% us and 20% his mother and the rest at some kid’s house named Christopher—who is of course nicknamed Topher—and we cruise by Topher’s house 100% of the time that DJ is missing, looking for trails of him.

About the Author:

Michele Finn Johnson’s creative nonfiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol and previously won an AWP Introduction to Journals Project award. Her fiction won a 2012 Martindale Literary Prize. Michele lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Special Note:

This story was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions.

Image Credit: © airdone / Dollar Photo Club