I have purposefully brewed a pot of tea in her favorite oriental kettle even though she will want to take it, used the malformed cup her nephew made for her when we moved in together. It says, “To Ants,” which was once a cute misspelling of “Two Aunts.” Now, it seems like a prognostication for why our relationship would ultimately crumble: I spent too much time poring over my essays devoted to the rhetoric of female orgasms, and Angeline just spent too much time gardening.
When I recollect the incident, I can feel the bloody body of the bird striking my toes and hear the crunch of its bones under my bike wheels. I couldn’t get off my bike when I hit the animal, because a testy crowd of rush-hour bicyclists charged forward, so I kept cycling, practically hypnotized, still feeling the dead bird on my foot. When I got to the office, I saw the remains of feathers and blood and pus at the tip of my sandal and toes.
The clouds were rolling, as black as a moonless night. He might as well add this godforsaken day to the list. He knew how it would play out. If he ran late, he’d never catch up. Once again he glared at the banana truck. He could practically touch the brake lights, the truck slowing down at each bend, its overweight rear end waddling from side to side.
While Max played, Mrs. Davenport sat on the sofa in the living room with a book. With his back to her, Max couldn’t tell how closely she was paying attention, but he liked knowing she was there, a witness to his work. From the outset, it was the best he had ever played the Liebestraum, or anything else, and it was not just a single performance but a series of them.
In the years that followed, we did without domesticated fruits and veggies, stationery, good carbs, marijuana, cardboard packaging, kombucha, toothpicks, bad carbs, pulpy thickeners, essential oils, stevia, ugly carbs, and flat pack furniture.
We do not breathe. The woman does not breathe, either. The house murmurs, the heavy figure in the bedroom turning over in his sleep.
He’s a lion pacing behind bars. We watch him prowl and slither and lope through his cedar bedding. We squeeze him and risk bites. We spend our allowance on his Magic DustTM diet that looks like microbeads and smells like nail polish. Our devotion lasts a fiscal quarter.
Reason n./v. Weeks later I reason he isn’t worth losing my job or my friends or even the morning rituals that make me feel at home in my body. But his roots are under my skin.