It’s Sunday, our first night in the new apartment, and already you’re edging past the boxes in the kitchen to make your escape. I’ve hooked up the stereo, X-actoed my way into the box of records marked fragile, and dropped the needle on I Would Die 4 U, injecting some grit and rhythm into the space between us. Upended by the beat, you rock your hips, blue bracelets jangling on your skinny forearm. You think people can’t see track marks on dark skin, but in this light it’s like staring down holes in a bowling ball. I’ve got my green sobriety coin, but I can’t force you. You’re just so young.
I know what you’re doing, you say, pointing your finger.
And what is that?
Trying to do-mes-ti-cate me.
Okay, sure, maybe.
You scoff and throw up your arms, test out some new footwork between the aluminum stools at the tiny breakfast counter. In your joie de vivre, your hand smacks the track lights and a bulb goes dark. You give a little wince and keep going, and it’s impossible to think this is the last time I’ll see you. Just this afternoon, I stopped by your mom’s in Eatonville and watched you heft the first of many tired-looking garbage bags stuffed with clothes and pillows and CDs—who actually still owns CDs?—to the curb, but before I could run off with her baby boy into the sunset, your mom insisted on feeding me a tuna sandwich and iced tea. (Twelve hours from now, she, not me, is the one they’ll call to identify your body). I’d just come from the gym, and when I sat down at the table all I did was stink up the kitchen. Your mom wrinkled her nose but said she was glad you’d finally found a roommate, even though I looked older than she expected. No beating around the bush, your mom. I scanned the walls, and she picked up your prom picture and talked about how pretty your date was, how much that dress had cost. I didn’t say much, and she never took her eyes off me.
I think I made a good impression, I remarked on the way to our new place.
The water’s not on yet, but the A.C. is working finally. You’re not totally off-base when you accuse me of being happiest with the label-maker in my hand. There’s so much more room in the kitchen cabinets than at my last place, and we need to be on the same page about how things are arranged—I’ve had at least one relationship go south over which drawer should hold the silverware. But as much as I love your company, I know you can’t stand another minute in this over-bright room with its dentist-office-white walls, not when the thumping dark beckons.
You could come with me, you say unconvincingly.
You used to make me crazy—I want you, I don’t want you—but now that we’ve been dating almost exclusively for over a year, I’m content to be left alone with your sundry garbage bags, gunked-up appliances from my old apartment, IKEA furniture parts and hardware—all the mishmash of our lives thrown together in one glorious heap. Right now, the only thing you could say to pry me out of this apartment would be that you want to go to a meeting, and the chances of that look to be about nil.
So even though you have on your Butterfly Soda eye shadow and size 26 jeans and might as well be wearing a sign that says Fuck me, I’m single, I say, Go on, have fun, I’ll see you later at home (spreading my arms as I say it—home!).
AG Latham has an MFA in Fiction from San Francisco State University, where she teaches in the English Department. Her prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Epiphany, Gulf Coast, Heavy Feather Review, Camera Obscura, and Berkeley Poetry Review, among others. She is currently at work on a children’s book series and a debut novel.
Art: Desert Bones by Mawi Sonna who is a Midwest Artist and Poet from Kansas. She graduated with her BA and MA in English Literature and Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry from Kansas State University. She enjoys working with a variety of mediums from printmaking, woodblock carving, to digital illustration.