< slim white fish
My mother killed herself, and her mother killed herself, but I am only twenty. Small snack packages are lined up neatly on the shelves. When I touch them they crinkle. No, I do not think I am there yet. He said I am a lonely person who has a way of making other people lonely, which I just think means that I am persuasive, a go-getter, but it did make him leave me, which I guess means that, to him, it is a bad thing, and not worth fixing up. But he is also the one who left. He liked the wasabi peas. I hated the wasabi peas, which were all he tasted like after eating them, again and again. The baggies whisper crinkly whispers to each other, especially when I touch them. My pants are large and black and billowy, and I am a little drunk. It is as if they are warning each other, maybe about my presence. Uh huh. To be honest, this seems like what it is. That maybe I am dangerous. He seemed to want to say that I am dangerous, although he never came out and did it. Like he knew I had dirt on him. Not that it was so very bad, the dirt. Just that he looked no better than I did, if it all came out. If I told a little story. The pants kiss my hips, which are like small cuttlefish bones, and when I take them off, whenever I might get home, there will be red depression zig-zags all the way around, perfect to be felt by fingertips, no matter whose. What a thought. I leave the snickering snacks behind and turn to the chilled stuff, where there are many yogurt drinks, cool to the touch, with bits of fruit, and also full and half size cartons of all the dairy mixes. Everything is on ice or under cold cold jets of chilly air, where the ultimate purpose is, I guess, to keep death under wraps. Hush hush. They all say ‘live cultures,’ ‘fresh,’ or ‘plain.’ I take a pink clean can into my two hands and turn it around a couple of times, looking down, letting the corners of my mouth go down—pretty good, I mouth, uh-huh, pretty good. And by my side a man is lost in his reflection in a loaf of bread. When my legs are close together the pants look like a skirt, but then I can take them apart and it opens up a whole new world. It is very fun, and no one ever appreciates it. Because I can pump my knees back and forth a little while standing to make it look like big black rolling waves are coming from nowhere at all. I put the can back because I am too busy then staring at my legs, or where they could ever be. Next to the cartons is a special shelf for eggs. Next to that is a special shelf for butter, and then cheese. I have eaten all of these things, at one time or another. I make more waves. I am staring at my feet too long. So stare at something else, I tell myself, and this is pretty easy to do. Uh huh. I stare at a bag of ice, which lets me look through and at it, the bag, like the air above the road on a hot hot day, which soothes the dizziness. The ice is so round. The man decides yes on the bread. Good call, good call. Humming. The cashier seems to narrow his eyes at the man as if to say: do you really want to buy the loaf? This one right here? Maybe it is a dangerous loaf. Then the man buys it. And maybe he is a brave man. And I think that he is a man who is not out of options, which is why I buy things, especially at this time of night. When I am truly out of options I cannot buy a thing, not even gelatin candy or erotic magazines or cinnamon sugar oatmeal for dinner, all of which hit, in their own way, the spot. The man nods. The cashier nods. Progressively smaller nods like they’ll never end but they do. Someone new comes in and starts the loop and I’m still back near the yogurt and things, so I turn quick and embarrassed and check out the selection of dried meat, which remind me of feet: their bottoms and sides. I wear smooth black Chelsea boots, which hide my, oh god, my feet from me, in addition to making me feel cool, and which I have had for a long while now—from before him, but after my mother killed herself. There are the pre-things and the post-things. My boots and pants are post as well as my socks and panties and my shirt made of fine black wool and my hair barrette, although not my bra or my decorative ring, which is octagonal and made of steel and sometimes rusts. Most of my skin is post, but my bones have been around forever, it seems. They hold my pants up, clever bones. Never broken a single one. I pick up some magazine where the orbs of a woman’s breasts spill out of a cheese-colored bikini—very nice, very nice, uh huh, even if it is not the right season. When I turn around I am tête-à-tête with the wasabi peas. I turn again. It is like I am the big white moon and have been captured, after a long time, by the earth, which lets me suck weakly at its tides, same time every month. Fuck the earth. If that is how it happened. The earth is where people die. The earth is where there are mosquitos at night. I do not feel very big and pale and luminous anyway, but I do changes faces every once in a while, and people say I come and go. Let me suck at your watery goo. Please. It was not enough. For Christmas he bought me a cantaloupe and didn’t even eat any of it, even when I asked. A cantaloupe is like the moon. I pick up a bottle in one hand, and a bottle in the other, by their skinny necks, and weigh them. Oh, yes, this one is heavier, just a little bit. Uh huh. I put them back. Many of the drinks are coffee, which I never grew to like the taste of, although the smell is very good, I think. I think I like things if they go on for long enough. Maybe I will hate them if they go on even longer, although, to be fair, this seems a little stupid. Coffee smell is sticky on the fingers for so so long. And I am facing away from the center of the store, because all the good stuff is on the walls. Like there is something so bad at the center. He was post, although he was alive and around during the pre, a little boy somewhere, which makes him sort of complicit to it all, uh huh, like my bra. What a job they both did. I fixed my bra with a pull-tab when it decided to give it up. My arms are like slim white fish peeking out of my sleeves, which are like big drapes around them, as if they are swimming around on their own; they touch Styrofoam, and then cellophane, and then painted aluminum, as if they cannot tell which touch is special or not. They have felt my hips, and my teeth, and a couple of other people. I try and look at the same type of loaf that the man looked at, and I don’t see much of anything but, then again, he did take his loaf, and it might have been the only one. There are a handful of things that can only happen once, and sometimes people do them. I cannot say. They are the things that can send a reflection right back at you at a million miles per hour. I would know, even though I have not been around that long. Around what, they say. And it makes me think. My feet are bags for my clever bones. So many of them. So many wasabi peas. Maybe I have been here before. I make eye contact with the cashier because this cleverly diffuses his tension as well as my own, although, with my pants making waves and my slim white fish arms, I cannot imagine that I seem like much of a threat to him, or will bring great calamity on his store or household or well-being. I am not an earthquake, or a tidal wave. Maybe I am dangerous. It is not in writing yet. I am only twenty and cannot buy things quick. Gum it is. What a treat. Reminds me of car rides. I am a little drunk.