In the aisle with canned vegetables, pickles, tomatoes, and pasta sauce, they reached their mutual breaking point.
I don’t understand, she said. I don’t understand why you would feel that way about what I said.
I didn’t say that I felt that way, he said. I said that I felt you were misconstruing what I had said in response to it.
What you said before that.
Why can’t you just tell me what you mean? What you feel.
Because I don’t think that I have to do that all the time, he said.
But that is crazy.
No, he said, shaking his head quickly and drawing out the ‘o’ a little.
It is crazy, she said again. Neither of them had stopped walking through the store. Nor had they stopped picking out groceries. In the midst of their argument, one of them would hold up something and the other would nod in confirmation, shake their head in refusal, or shrug in ‘It’ll have to do.’
I don’t feel that I need to tell you every single thing that’s happening in my head, he said.
She grabbed a bag of chips.
And I feel like, he nodded at the chips, that’s completely my right. To have that sort of privacy.
So it’s a matter, she put the chips in the cart, of privacy.
Yes, he said.
Which I get! Which I get.
Then why are you, he grabbed some salsa, so angry?
I’m not angry!
She shook her head at the salsa.
Then what, he grabbed a different, hotter salsa, is this that we’re doing right now?
It’s an adult conversation. She nodded at the hotter salsa. He put the salsa in the cart.
Continue Reading . . .
Someone hands Corvus a Polaroid-it’s a photo of herself she doesn’t recognize-and the boy who gives it to her is the chubbiest at the party. The photo feels like a gift from a nightmare, something she should not be holding, something close to vertigo. There is a ringing in her ears still, her face bright and damp. Outside, the rain slackens against the tall Victorian house, trees push to the windows.
He’s the chubbiest boy at the party but he’s polite, she can tell that he’s polite. He waits with his head down and doesn’t say anything; he hands her a red plastic cup of water.
It is a Polaroid of her biting a knife with an unknown hand cupping her breast outside her tank top. In the photo, her eyes are closed and she looks more at peace than she has been recently.
She feels a tingling on her neck and the turbulence of the dryer in final spin against her back. She’s wearing Michelle’s old Slayer T-shirt, which is stretched at the chest, waiting for her clothes to dry in a nook at the stairs away from the party. A small birthmark on her chest shows above her camisole underneath: it looks like a crescent moon. Corvus likes him almost immediately and she arches her back, watching where he stares.
She imagines having larger breasts than she does. Corvus says, Thank you. I don’t remember this. She shakes the Polaroid like it’s developing.
He looks up at her and sticks out his stiff hand and says, Perry, my name is Perry. That’s my hand.
It is, says her voice.
No, I mean that’s my hand in the photo.
She says, This is you?
Continue Reading . . .
Taxidermy wolf melts into rug
when its made to hold you up strong.
The boy told me
he loves America
he wears and breathes America,
I point out his shell hands
with Uncle Sam’s fingernails sharpened to a lethal point.
The girl told me
this jewelry is so beautiful
the women they wear it with their long dark braids
and make music with its whistles
I say yes
it is beautiful
but the wood is dark
and the women
they make music when bears touch them like salmon