Where Dreams Go to Die


Diamond wanted to be famous. Rich, too, though if she had to choose between being rich or famous, she preferred the fame.

She told anybody who would listen from sixth grade on that she was going to be a big star one day. During her eighth-grade year, she studied enough YouTube videos to perfect the art of applying false eyelashes and penciling in expertly-arched eyebrows. (She’d shaved her own off over the summer and they’d never grown back.)

Diamond isn’t her real name. It’s the one she adopted when she got her first stage job. All the girls chose their own names. Diamond didn’t think much of the other girls or their names: Vodak, Chasity, Pony, Angel.

“Gah, whatever,” she texted Ben. Diamond’s disappointment in others was only rivaled by her inflated sense of self-import, which is why Ben was the only person from the Class of 2014 still speaking to Luna.

That’s Diamond’s real name – Luna Maria Motley. She hated that name and the mother who’d settled her with it, cherry-picking from an undocumented Hispanic heritage and the backwoods fellow who’d knocked her up. Last Diamond heard, her mother was living in some way back town in Oklahoma keeping company with cockroaches and cowboys.

Power City might not be much better, but at least in Oregon there weren’t any cockroaches to contend with. Diamond sat at the dinette table in the two-room squat she rented for $450 a month ($350 more than it was worth) and painted her nails with the Lavender Ice gel she’d picked up on a half-price special at Big Lots.

Diamond wasn’t sure how Power City managed to become called a city. There was no downtown, no uptown, no cross-town. The entire metropolitan consisted of a third-hand store (the crap they sold wasn’t of high enough quality to be second-hand), a used car lot, and the dump Diamond called home.

She loathed admitting her failures. When you have so few of them, you don’ t get as much practice in owning them. Still, there was little denying that working a pole at a strip joint was hardly the kind of fame Diamond had envisioned for herself.

Back in high school, she’d had a couple of her poems published in the school’s literary journal. Afterwards, Diamond imagined moving to New York City and working for one of those swanky publishing houses. Cosmo or Vogue. Maybe she’d even take over Anna Wintour’s job one day.

Only that day never came.

Through no fault of her own, mind you. Diamond could do Anna Wintour’s job in half the time for half the pay, blindfolded. She was sure of it. Come to think of it, Diamond figured she could do just about anybody’s job better than them. She was naturally gifted that way.

Like Trump.

Only without all that money.

College had not been important to Diamond. She hated school. It was sooo boring. Besides, as Diamond often told her teachers, she was ten times smarter than them. Why did she need a college education?

“Education is power,”  said Ms. Nan, the school counselor.

“Language is political. Those who fail to master it will remain enslaved to those who do,” warned Mr. Wayne, the school principal.

“Fuck that,” Diamond said. “I’m nobody’s slave.”

She tucked the $88 in wages made the previous evening into an envelop marked “Rent”.

The problem wasn’t that she dropped out of high school three months shy of graduation, despite all the urging by Ben to just “hang in there and do your schoolwork.”

“I was never the problem,” Diamond said. “The problem is this hell-hole of a town. It’s true what they say, you know, this is the city where dreams go to die. ”

Diamond spoke with the resignation of a woman much older than 23. She spoke like a woman coming to grips with the fact that confidence can’t carry a person over terrain where discipline refuses to go.


Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Burdy (Mercer University Press). 





Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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