swashbuckling kittens wallpaper -- cutlasses, eyepatches, royal blue bandanas --
lined the walls of the kitchen.
"you love it, don't you?" Mathilda asked. she poured me a glass of almond milk.
and I could drink almond milk with a lesbian forever. and ever. and ever.
fridge door open. it's sparse. a world weary McDonald's bag and a last chapter beer,
the only other tenants.
"it's neat," I said. don't care much for animals. don't hate them by any means,
but don't go out of my way for them. my analyst says it's Sparks, Oklahoma's fault.
see, when a boy, I had seven---no, eight kittens named Simba. the howl of the coyote
taught me about expiration dates. Had a hard time accepting total loss (e.g., eight Simbas).
"do you feel okay?" Mathilda asked. and I didn't. but I said,
"yeah, yeah. sorry about waking you up last night. just didn't think I could make it home."
"I noticed you slept perpendicular to the futon. with your sneakers on. interesting choice."
Mathilda can be funny. and the almond milk was good. and like I said, I could drink it with
her forever. the ceiling fan, though, rocked off-kilter. she had stray, sad balloons in orbit
around the fan. imagined the balloon with the red-lettered "BOO-YAH" entering the wake
of the wobbling blades. imagined the blades flying off one-by-one. imagined one striking
me in the head and freeing me of a hangover. imagined being in the back of the line outside
the gates of heaven, while St. Peter kept letting the hot, single girls cut in line.
"will you?" Mathilda repeated, I think.
"will I, what?"
"take a picture of me in front of the wallpaper."
"sorry, I've taken like 30 selfies trying to get Grace to re-notice me.
starting to feel like a chronic masturbator."
"what do you mean?"
"well, you know, selfies are pathetic indulgences in narcissism. hell, they can be
necessary, as is the case this time, I assure you---but pathetic, nonetheless."
took the phone. Mathilda stood in front of the pirate kitten wallpaper.
she leaned forward. made a kissy face.
"do you have to do that?" I asked.
"don't bust my *****," she said, "just take the photo. I know what Grace likes."
the two broke up last week. Mathilda in her oh-yeah-wanna-run-off-with-ol-banana-***** fury
threw a ******* party with balloons (they were tethered to things at the time.
the dining chairs, cabinet doors, the wrists of guests, etc., etc.). I left early that night.
I'm straight and not very relevant. so, well, you get it.
"would you like some coffee too?" she didn't look up. with locust clicks she fingered
the screen of her phone, uploading the kissy face, pirate kitten wallpaper picture to
her Tumblr. I nodded.
at the party she bedded two skeletal, Sylvia Plath feminists. self-fulfilling prophecy.
she'd written about the then-fictitious scenario months ago on her blog.
Mathilda called me crying the following morning. between the
shame/guilt/self-pity wails, she advised, "don't ever be the third wheel in a threeway."
noted. she said the three had a silent, last breakfast before they left. and I said something
to the effect of, you didn't let them go near the oven did you?
the first droplets of coffee hissed as they struck the bottom of the ***.
"if only coffee were a woman," Mathilda said. "am I right?"
"if coffee were a woman, I'm afraid I'd still pour her into a fine porcelain cup and drink her."
and I am. but she doesn't mind because I've been celibate for two years, and she's been
so successful it brings her down. off-setting penalties, the basis of our friendship. or maybe
it's the way we leave things where they fall or rise. natural resting places. Simbas. balloons.
when the brew idles I grab two cups. fill hers three-quarters full. she likes almond milk in it.
and I could drink almond milk with a lesbian forever, I swear. to the fridge. the ceiling fan
seems a bit louder. one-by-one the blades. and heaven. and St. Peter, the pervert.
gave the almond milk a shake.
"why you holding on to the McDonald's bag and the practically empty beer?
I think they're starting to smell."
she didn't answer. well, not right away, anyway. and I took that to mean they belonged
to Grace. natural resting places. so, I mix the almond milk into the coffee.
"I know I should throw it out. Grace doesn't even like McDonald's. Do you know what's
in that bag?"
"yeah. one of her friends works there. just cut up some avocados for her."
what sacrilege. made me tired, you know? fast food avocados, selfies,
Sylvia Plath feminists, etc., etc. the ceiling fan sped up, for no reason, I think.
the balloons cast shadows over the dining table. and I could drink almond milk
with a lesbian forever. trust me. just not under those conditions. beeline for
the fridge. door open. snagged the bag of blacker-than-brown avocados
and the bottle of beer.
"stop. she could be back any day," Mathilda said.
and what I should of said was no. what I should have said was Grace,
for all intents and purposes, was dead. and what she was doing
was reusing a dead name. and reusing a dead name isn't a resurrection.
but what I said was, "okay." and I sat down under the ceiling fan.
my natural resting place. almond milk forever. and ever. and ever.