Just a wish for a happy holiday season. I hope you are enjoying time with those that you love, who love you, or at least passively relishing time spent as a respite from the doldrums or frantic madness of life. Here’s to a great upcoming year as well…
In the meantime, a short, short story…
She sat up in the bed and closed her eyes tightly, a pulsing headache, and she thought about toast and blackberry jam and the cold kitchen with the window left open. On the bedroom floor, next to an empty bottle of champagne on its side, there was a stuffed unicorn with the head half torn off, cotton batting spilling out of its neck.
He rested his head on her legs, facing the bare wall. She let out a quick sigh.
“You don’t like when I lay on you like this,” he said.
“No,” she said.
“You know that a human head only weighs like eight pounds,” he said.
He liked that her hair was impossibly tangled from the night, full of knots and loose bobby pins. She had on only one sock. There was glitter on her neck that shone from the light in the window. The room was stale and he remembered the bonsai tree that he once bought at a Korean corner store because she said that flowers just die. The little plant bounced on his lap on squeaky bus seat all the way from Flagstaff, Arizona to Jacksonville, Florida, and standing at her door he threw it with both hands at the long bedside mirror that recorded nightly scenes of writhing bodies.
* * *
The night before, after a half bottle of gin and several rolled cigarettes, she cried and told him that for a while she used to live on an island when she was young, that it was a cold, forested island with a lighthouse and there was an elderly couple who lived there. In the middle of the island there was an expansive green, bumpy peat bog peppered with rotten logs and cut-off stumps and it was populated by hundreds of black rabbits.
“I had to live with those terrible old people,” she said. “One day I saw a glowing, orange fire near the shore on the mainland, and lights from the fire trucks. I could hear screaming. It was cold and windy that day. Like everyday. I laughed at them.”
“And then here you are” she said. “Your parade of coddling admirers and favors and fluttering eyes and garland and fucking egg nog.”
* * *
He brought his head up from her lap and reached for the plastic water bottle next to the bed. She lit a cigarette and a trickle of dried ash fell on her stomach and on the pillow.
“What about breakfast?” she asked.
“I don’t have any food,” he said. “Tell me more about the rabbits.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
* * *
She was soon asleep, facing away with her outstretched arm pushed against the wall. There was a leather belt, still wrapped tightly in a ball, on the keyboard of his laptop. A ripped t-shirt hung from the lampshade. He felt a deep, satisfied kind of tiredness. He wanted to see that image again and again, each time drawing a different face hidden in the nest of hair until, finally, he would grow tired and give up.
* * *
He took a drink from the plastic water bottle and stood up. She began to speak to him and he walked to the kitchen, closing the door behind him. He put a cup of stale coffee in the microwave and opened the cupboard, because all he really wanted was toast and blackberry jam.