next door is starting in on each other again. I can hear them through the wall.
Just one of the perks of apartment living—you get to hear your neighbors making
love and war.
“Fuck you. It’s obvious you don’t
want to be with me. Obvious to everyone.”
I can hear the warble in her voice from here.
“Obvious to who? Your friends,
who really just want you to be as miserable as they are?”
He’s always loud, whether laughing or yelling.
them from my balcony when they leave, enfolded in each others’ arms. They are a
hot summer day even when scarves wrap them against the cold—the sight of them
together makes my eyes hurt if I look at them too long.
away from my book, I’m grateful for the distraction. This must’ve been the
millionth time I’ve read through that same passage. I lean my head back against the couch and
“To everyone. If you loved me, you’d...” I miss what she says next, but I imagine
her trailing off and looking at him with her big, doe eyes.
“No. Not this time.” There is a screech of chair against
floor. Did he get up, or she?
about my own lover’s quarrels as their shouting escalates. How powerful my tirades
were, and how in those moments I felt truly alive because I truly just wanted
to be free. Or to be sucked into the earth and feel the deep cool of nothing.
And yet, all
this brings to mind neon fireflies.
steps, gazing in awe at a red setting sun.
foam from a well-poured stout off my lip, mouth curling into a smile.
That one busking
guitar player in the dark tunnel, rocking from one foot to the other as he sang
that one song.
Raven—the place, not the poem.
teal peacock on the boardwalk and people stopping to watch.
the inside of my thighs were rubbed raw.
screaming on the other side of the wall is silenced with the slam of a door. I
hear heavy boots stomping past my apartment. For a moment, I wonder if this
time he’ll keep walking.
But no. I
know he’ll be back.
He and his
doe are explosions of fire, yet they are also soft fireflies.
sharp teeth, but they are also the curling smile.
They are the
poem, the peacock, the raw rubbing.
impossible to leave such things. I know because I am a wraith haunting the
halls of my old life. And though my body has passed into the grave, even now I
cannot leave. I am too much in love with the world to free myself from all its
horrors and graces, its holiness and lost cases.
I have a
lover’s quarrel with the world—I want to go, to be free, yet I cannot help but
The doorbell chimes and I shoot up, snagging a hoodie on my
way to the front door.
“There’s our pizza,” I muffle as I pull the extra shirt over
my head. “You’re gonna love this.”
I scoop Beetje off my shoulder and settle her into my hood
so she can sit in it like a sling. She scrambles up so she can see, and one of
her small, pointy elbows pokes into my collar bone as she bats at my earring.
“Love is a strong word in your language, isn’t it?" She sounds unconvinced. "I’m ready
to be impressed.”
My smile disappears as soon as I swing open the door.
“Roo,” my nemesis says, running a hand through his perfectly
tousled hair and shuffling his feet. Flip-flops, ripped jeans, thin flannel
shirt. Perfect for the warm evening. He pulls two tickets out of his back
pocket and thumbs at the orange ’55 Chevy truck he’s been working on all
summer. “Wanna go to the drive-in? They’re playing oldie-goldies tonight.”
Beetje hums into my ear with new-found conviction. “This is pizza? Definitely ready to
“This is not pizza, this is Jackson.”
Jack frowns and looks around. “Uh.”
I don’t even bother to explain. He won’t know what bimkins
He can’t see or hear Beetje, but that doesn’t keep her from climbing
out of my hood and sprawling out on my shoulder. Vixen that she is, she says
all throaty, “Come to me my sweet pizza. I want to eat you up and grow fat on
Jack holds both palms out. “Look, Roo. I just wanted to apologize.”
“Roo? Why does he keep calling you this roo?”
“Rosa.” He ducks his head. “Can we just…”
“But everything’s been so awkward. I just want a new chance
at having something normal with…”
“See that’s the thing, though,” I say, pushing my fists into
my hoodie. Beetje sits up and it feels like she’s looking back and forth
between Jack and me. “I’m not normal.”
“You’re not normal?” she asks, a hint of surprise in her
“I know…” he starts.
“So stop trying to fit me into your little litter box,” I cut him off again.
I really wish he would quit with the perfect-thing and just go away. All I
wanted was some pizza.
“Litter box. Isn’t
that the container your feline pet expels in?”
“It’s another way of saying shit box.”
I feel Beetje shake her head. “I still don’t comprehend.”
Jack scowls. “Yeah, I got it.”
“He puts you into a box?” Beetje sounds confused.
I understand where she’s coming from—I’m confused too, if
for different reasons. I point to the bungalow next door. “Why don’t you ask
Janey? She’s normal.”
“I would if I wanted to,” Jack says, his scowl turning to
hurt, then to perfect calm. His shoulders slump. Nodding once, he tosses the
tickets to my feet and turns.
I shut the door against the sound of his sandals slapping soft on the stone walkway, and lean into the wall. His engine revs once, twice. I hug my arms across my chest. And then he’s gone.
“Too bad,” Beetje says, sounding dejected. “No pizza. I was
looking forward to love.”
I kick away from the wall and head back toward the kitchen. “Yeah,
I was too.”
So I’m putting some elbow grease into
the first chapter of Fivers for some upcoming critique opportunities at this and this. Pretty excited, but does anyone else have a hard time with beginnings? I’ve started and
restarted this beast so many times. Here are just four examples of four different
Meidun’s aggressive sprawl zigzagged
downhill from the massive fortress above, the colorfully decked-out lanes
bulging with festival goers.
Escape smelled like sour ale and
skewered rat meat.
The steep stairway leading up to the large
terrace above doubled as a directory for the Pearl District, with multiple
shops and ads stenciled onto any open stone-face available.
Eliza ducked out of the hired carriage
and paused, her totem senses humming.
Why is it that first step out the door
is always the hardest? (Gotta run back in, forgot my phone; it’s actually kind
of cold out here so I should grab a jacket; my list isn’t in my pocket so where
did I leave it? Keys, anyone?)