They snuck out of windows and took with us her Post-it Note reminders to pick up Virginia Slim Menthol 100’s from 7-11. No ID was necessary. Everyone in town knew Pearl with the exception of the people in the hills with money. To them she was faceless, nameless. Someone who hung with bottom feeders. She cleaned their sheets, swept their floors, spent their tip money on booze and crystal necklaces for her and her daughters. It was easy to get away with things around Pearl because she was in more trouble than most people. Drinking and pills and men. They would move in, overdraw her bank account, steal from her jewelry box, sleep with her friends. Sometimes there were blow jobs on couches. Sometimes Tarot and crystals, Led Zeppelin. And always, thick smoke stained curtains were drawn for sleeping off morning hangovers. Every day was a cause to celebrate. It was the little things. Another passing report card from her daughter, enough food in the fridge, a relatively clean bathroom, no more stomach flu. Pick up a bottle of vodka and some juice. Maybe some those pizza poppers for the girls. She’d make her famous slaw, spicy chicken wings, pie with store bought crust and apples from a can. Her daughters would party with her, her daughter’s friends too. She would console them about having to go to rehab and juvenile hall. Their parents didn’t know how to love them, but she would care for them, she promised. She sang Rhiannon while stroking their oily teenage hair. She longed for the clean life. For days without smoking and hacking up residue. She’d get a new job. She would make it work this time. The girls wouldn’t have to help pay for food anymore. The house would be clean, laundry folded, tucked neatly inside lined dresser drawers. Just her and her daughters perched on the couch watching B movies, only cigarettes this time.