“Miss Gloomy, Miss Glum” by Sage Marsters
--page 6


        I could not go back. I could leave my good, thick sweater, my old Chinese shoes and my journal and my six candles, perhaps the dark little room will grow over with vines, the TV’s silver light will flicker through the growth, M*A*S*H is always on, the helicopters circling in.
         “There is something I like about you,” Franklin says. I yawn. I think of Franklin’s hands on chicken, his fingers slithering across the pink gloss of raw flesh. I think of his house, imagine old yellow linoleum, a dull aluminum pot, my fingers clutched to the edge of a sink. I let out a laugh that’s more air than anything. Franklin blinks slowly and then he takes the glass from my hand and sets it on the bar. He leans in. He fits his mouth against mine, his gums are cold, his tongue pushes in, coaxes. I barely move, it’s hard to, the tiny jeans cut in at my hips, into my crotch, stinging. I want to peel them off here, now, feel the relief of my bones and skin coming out. His hand moves up under the sweater, the mannequin’s sweater. Like her, I’m not wearing anything underneath. He finds a breast and circles the nipple between his thumb and forefinger. I picture it like the mannequin’s, marred by a plaster dimple. I don’t get to finish my drink. He lifts me off the stool with his hands in my armpits.
         His house is nearby, I think it’s his house, but there are other people in the kitchen, a red-headed family, and I think it’s possible that this isn’t his house, that he’s come in like it is and everyone thinks someone else knows him: I thought you knew him, but I thought you knew him, but I thought you knew him, like a sitcom and a murder mystery combined. Steam rises from the sink, pots on the stove, plates on the table, this family is making a chicken dinner of their own, and Franklin waves as we pass. I wonder if I ever called this family when I was a telemarketer. Maybe the kids were doing homework and the mother was making string beans with slivered almonds and the father picked up the phone, a scotch in one hand, and gave me a lecture about interrupting his family-time to sell him junk.
         Down the hallway, there’s a room with a twin bed—blue and white striped mattress, metal bed frame. A pile of clothes in the corner. There’s a window with a faded blanket for a curtain. There’s a milk crate turned upside down with a digital clock on it, the numbers glowing green and jaunty. The jeans come off, my skin comes out. Franklin kneels down at my feet and runs his fingers slowly over the seam-imprints along my thighs. I wish they were real scars. From a car accident, from reconstruction, from degenerative bones that break all the time without warning and must be replaced with metal limbs. We’re quiet, just breathing, and through the door I can hear the family eating. Franklin nudges my thighs apart and I squat down to his face and he licks and licks, and I’m thinking of my tattoo, of a blue forest growing under a whining needle while I lie on a paper sheet, grass and arching trees and birds spreading across my skin, the dentist holding the needle, drawing tediously across my hips, down the slope of my belly, Franklin standing nearby, holding an old fashioned hat in his hands, watching.
         Franklin stands up with his pants around his ankles, his chin wet. He scoops me up and fits himself in. He’s long, slender, my legs loop to his jangly hips, my arms to his neck. I smell his purple t-shirt, his skin underneath. I’m light, I hold on and flounce around up there until he gets us to a wall and he presses me against it, leaning into me, the wall hard against my shoulder blades, his chest moving against me. I dig my heels into his back, my head knocks the wall, and then we move to the mattress. I like being under him, straining, and when I make a noise he takes his hand and holds it firmly against my mouth.
         After, we stay still next to each other and through the door I hear someone say, “I vote for Florida.” I wonder if we can go the bathroom here, if it’s a yellow bathroom with a thick cake of soap resting at the corner of the sink, two matching lavender hand towels alert on a rack, or if there’s a pot he’ll pull from under the bed. I wonder if we live here, if this family keeps us, if in the morning Franklin will wake up and go to work and I'll wait here for him, tidy the room, fold his clothes, smoke cigarettes at the windowsill, if I’ll go out and buy a red geranium to perk the place up. I could put a pillowcase over the milk crate to pretty things up. I know how to make a nest anywhere. I can stretch a dollar, when I have to. These are things that have been said about me. Maybe I will find a way to make money with my hair. This is what I’ve been heading towards, maybe nothing more. This could be a room where someone is killed, suffocated or sliced, but it isn’t, and the redheaded family outside and the sound of a TV coming on confirm this. I run a finger down my flat, empty stomach. Once, a woman at the ashram taught me a meditation for hunger, for starving, a way to hold your arms stretched out from your sides as long as you can and breathe so that you fill your body with your own breath, you trick your stomach into fullness. The woman told me that once she’d survived with this exercise, she’d literally lived off her own breath, feeding herself with it. She said that I should remember this exercise, I’d probably need it one day.
        In another minute, I think, soon, Franklin and I will sit at the kitchen table, a plate of leftovers between us, smiling and gnawing, grease on our fingers and chins.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6