Friday, June 01, 2007
Don't Stay Up Too Late
For the next three days, I'm going to post the third story in the novella, Something To Do In Bed. Thanks for reading!
Pretend You’re Not Here
The night before Devil’s Night, my brother Josh’s ex-girlfriend Coley shows up at our door right after midnight without warning dressed like Jackie Kennedy on the day of the assassination, a blood-splattered pink suit and pillbox hat, a fake brain on a string necklace. She’s sobbing like a bereaved widow, one who might be desperate enough to crawl around a car, trying to save her beautiful if faithless husband.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. She‘s looking past me, trying to spot Josh as if he were in a crowd. Her amethyst nose ring gleams under the porch light and part of me wants to tear it out and watch her bleed. We were never close.
"I live here."
"Is Josh home?" I can see by her posture that she’s not leaving so I let her inside and warn Josh that she’s here. He’s going to be pissed off that I opened the door, but I thought it might be Kevin, my long lost married love, MIA for months. I am a mistress without a master. What good can come of this?
She spots Josh sprawled on the couch and stops crying. I can see her trying to understand his face. It’s a hard thing to adjust to, the grin he razored himself underneath his mouth, the way he cut his tendons so that his mouth doesn’t quite work in the same way anymore. Sometimes people assume he’s had a stroke, and not one of good luck or fortune.
She looks at me. "What happened?" she asks. Josh continues to eat popcorn, the microwave Kettle kind with sugar and salt. I wish we had some normal kind of popcorn in this apartment, but I haven’t been to the store in weeks, not since my failed stoned effort to make a nice dinner for me and Josh his first school night back to the dreary high school teaching job he has. Needless to say, my good intentions, the road to culinary hell.
I shrug. "Want a drink?" I say. She looks like she could use one, although the same could be said for all of us at any given time. She doesn’t say anything, so I take that as a yes and fix her a kamikaze, something uncomplicated and a little bit sweet, a whole lot sour, a drink with bite.
After I finish mixing the drink, there’s nothing for me to do but leave them alone. I grab a bottle of Absolut from the freezer, no need to stand on ceremony with this crowd. I feel like saying something like, You two be good or Don’t stay up too late, but I don’t. We are all up too late, none of us have been very good. Before Coley’s arrival, Josh and I went to a haunted house, something we loved to do as children. It’s strange to think that neither one of us has ever lived anywhere else, so the city acts as its own haunted house, memories like ghosts, lingering and ready to make you feel their chill the minute you stop expecting them.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"A writer begins by breathing life into his characters. But if you are very lucky, they breathe life into you." Caryl Phillips
Drinking memoir suggestion: Leap Days Katherine Lanpher
Benedictions and Maledictions