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my compulsion - brannon o'brennan


My compulsion informs me it was a 35-year anomaly.

It compares me to my dead brother to remind me how well I am doing.

Jesus-like, he checked the family tragedy box so I could be free.

My compulsion thinks it’s better if I don’t know some things.

It prefers to situate in the blind spot because it doesn't want to be any trouble.

It puts things in perspective and doesn't get overly hung up on the past.

It stands just across the demilitarized zone. It won’t fuck with me if I don’t fuck with it.

My compulsion is excited that the flight is delayed two hours after I get to the airport.

It points out that some bars are restaurants and I haven’t eaten all day.

It’s an ostentatiously generous tipper because it wants the staff happy. Future singles will be doubles without a word spoken between smiles.

I go in to sleep mode as my compulsion imagines the messes the bartender sees every day. The bartender sees me in the context of the messes he sees every day. I am far from any of the bottoms he's poured into. I have a great job and am very articulate.

My compulsion edits the narrative as needed.

It thinks things are situational and nothing is absolute.

Is a perfectionist that will never stop looking for the happy place with or without me.

Has a mind of its own and doesn’t care about conventional wisdom or popular opinion.

My compulsion doesn’t like the word addiction because it has certain social connotations.

Is smarter than me but says I’m the smart one.

Can afford to be patient because I’ve given it a lot to work with.

Hides away from family in case things get sideways which they usually don’t except for when they do.

My compulsion doesn’t want me to overdo it because then I will have to quit again.

There’s a right way to do this but we must be smart.

Says “Fall for what? Technically I don’t exist.”

My compulsion thinks it was noble to quit but in retrospect it was a bit of an overreaction.

I will only get to live once.

I argue but not coherently. My compulsion is much more articulate and sees the big picture.

Like it always says, trouble is the last thing it wants. It just wants deserved happiness.

We’re on the same team here.

Only tactics set us apart. It is an integrationist and I sometimes argue for segregation. My compulsion thinks there's room for all of us.

My compulsion sometimes acts like it's the parent and I'm the child.

But then it can be such a fucking baby and act like the whole world revolves around it.

It doesn’t like being spoken to like a child and would like to point out that there have been no incidents in five years.

My compulsion says I am a good writer but then when we finally get together tells me how much I suck.

It lies to me but I can never get anything past it.

If everything is so great, what am I doing here?

My compulsion tells me I haven't moved an inch in 35 years.


Brannon O'Brennan is a writer from Washington, DC. Two of his pieces have been published in the literary journal Within and Without Magazine, and a third is scheduled to be published in the White Cresset Arts Journal. He previously published through George Washington University: WHY AN INTELLIGENT MAN MADE UNINTELLIGENT DECISIONS: THE COGNITIVE FACTORS BEHIND ROBERT MCNAMARA'S DECISION TO ADVISE IN FAVOR OF ESCALATION OF THE VIETNAM WAR, JANUARY - JULY, 1965. He is currently seeking literary representation for his upmarket crime fiction novel THROUGHLINE, a novel about a dysfunctional family of outlaws and the effects of trauma across generations.

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