On the fifth day, his counselor gave Lajon an egg for accountability.
“Draw a face on it. Name it,” his counselor cooed.
Lajon drew a frowny face on the egg, then wrote “jr” on the other side.
“This egg is your baby, Lajon.”
“Yeah,” Lajon said, eyeing his counselor’s absent scribbling as he palmed the permanent marker to use later that night in his bunk.
That evening Lajon left jr alone and unsupervised when he went to shower before the prayer meeting. He wrapped jr’s base in a dirty sock and left him frowning on the particle board dresser he shared with his roommate.
Lajon returned to a note:
“ALRite bitCH I GOT Yo Egg
If u WANNA SeE it AGAin
U gotTA dO MY CHORES for 3 MOTHER FUCKeN DAYS
If YOU say fuck that oR GET A COUNSELLER I WILL smash
This Mother fuckEr I will TELL you whO I Am tommorrow”
Lajon laid the note on his dresser and ground his teeth. He weighed his options like cellophane baggies as he stared at the framed crochet above his bunk.
Let go and let God.
“Fuck this egg,” Lajon said.
After dressing, he shuffled down the men’s hall and out of the facility to the van that waited to tote inpatients to First Assembly’s prayer meeting. Lajon drank seven cups of the church’s free coffee. As per the group’s laminated guideline sheet, he made his way to the kitchen’s refrigerator to replace the creamer he’d used.
Amid a debris field of crusted condiment packets on the fridge’s middle rack sat an egg carton. Lajon slid his thumb between cardboard lips, yawning open the carton’s hinge. One egg. Just one. He retracted his hand to run a finger along the permanent marker bulging beneath his denim.
Lajon forgot what he was clutching in his other hand, but whatever it was, he let go of it.
Schuler Benson lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he recently completed his bachelor's degree. His fiction and poetry have been featured in Kudzu Review, Hobart, Thunder Clap Press, The Fat City Review, and others. His first book, a collection of short stories titled The Poor Man's Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide, is forthcoming from Alternating Current in June 2014.