I stood in the kitchen, waiting for her to get
out of the bathroom. Her cat walked toward me, its green eyes wide,
its nails clicking on the linoleum. It sniffed and nuzzled my bare
feet, then let out a purr. I bent down to pet it, but it scurried
away. When I stood up, Maggie was smiling in the doorway.
cat's a tease," I said.
"No, she's not. She just doesn't
like you. She hates men. Isn't that right, baby?" she said
as she crawled under the table to
grab the ugly animal. Cradling it in her arms, she held it against
her chest and rubbed her cheek against its fur. "Isn't that
right, Baby?" she repeated. "We don't like men, do we?"
continued to rub her cheek against the cat's spine, and it purred
at her touch, Her tan skin was tight against her high
cheekbones, and she had hazel eyes with thick lashes that fluttered
when she smiled. She wore her blond hair up in a pony-tail. She
was a ballerina. You could see it in the way she moved - her shoulders
back, thin arms at her sides, small breasts that barely bulged through
her white tee shirt. The cat began to squirm in her arms.
wanna get down, Baby? Huh, do ya? Okay, okay."
She put the
cat down, and it trotted away. I was glad because the way she spoke
to it and cuddled it got on my nerves. After opening the fridge,
she bent down on one knee to look in.
"Do you want anything?"
"I don't know; what do you have?"
much. I have some fruit salad my dad made yesterday." She took
out a red bowl covered with aluminum foil and put it on the kitchen
"No, I'll just have a glass of water," I said.
I'm having some fruit salad."
She took a bowl and a glass
out of the cupboard. She threw a few ice cubes in the glass and
went to the sink. As it filed, she asked, "How come you never
eat anything at my house?"
"I eat when I'm here."
even close to as much I eat at your house. Whenever we're at your
house, we have, like, bowls of ice cream, ham and swiss sandwiches,
chips and salsa," she said, handing me the water.
because I have normal stuff at my house. You have all this fat-free
shit; I can't eat it."
"Well, at least have something
besides water. Have some soda."
"All you have is Diet
Coke. Nutrasweet gives me a headache."
she said. "Come on." Holding the fruit salad, a spoon,
and a paper towel, she walked down the hall toward her room.
aren't we gonna watch Seinfeld?" I asked, my thumb pointed
to the living room behind us.
"We always watch TV,"
she said. "Let's go listen to some music."
her into the bedroom, and she closed the door behind me.
keep your voice down; I don't want to wake up my parents"
sat on her bed and put my water on the night stand while she put
a CD in the stereo. All of the furniture in her room was a light-colored
oak. A few small statues stood on the dresser; one was a ballerina's
slipper. Above them, a Norman Rockwell print hung on the wall. It
was of a little girl spying on a boy changing his clothes. I could
see the moon through the window; it was full and white. She noticed
"Look at the moon. It's so big. It doesn't even
look real. It just looks like a big hole in the sky."
are you putting on?"
"Simon and Garfunkel."
out on Simon and Garfunkel."
too damn depressing. Put on some Springsteen or Van Morrison."
Simon and Garfunkel's good. It makes you think," she said.
don't want to think."
"Shut up, this is my favorite
"The Dangling Conversation" came on. She
sat on the bed and stretched her legs across my lap. Her skin felt
warm and a
little clammy against mine. Holding the bowl up to her chest, she
spooned pieces of fruit into her mouth.
"I love the part
when he's like, 'I can only kiss your shadow; I cannot feel your
hand. You're a stranger now unto me.'"
I just nodded. She
continued, "Can't you just picture this song? Two estranged
lovers, living in a loft in the city
can tell that they're, like, high-class people 'cause he starts
talking about the theater and Frost and Dickinson."
know," I said, "thank God you have central air 'cause
it's so disgusting out that a fan is useless. I dread having to
sleep in my room tonight."
She gave me an irritated look.
I refused to romanticize with her about some gloomy song, and it
pissed her off.
"I really just wish it would rain, "
I continued. "The humidity just keeps building up. You can
tell it's about to open up and just pour any second."
didn't say anything, just kept eating her fruit. I watched her try
to balance a piece of cantaloupe and a blueberry on the
spoon. As she brought it to her mouth, the blueberry fell.
don't you just use a fork? It's a lot easier."
I need the spoon to get the juice a the bottom."
don't you just sip the juice from the bowl?"
that's disgusting!" she said, raising her voice.
"Just leave me alone. I like using
I grabbed my water and too a big gulp. The sad
music continued to play. Her most legs now felt tense against mine.
is coming this weekend," she said.
I swallowed my saliva.
"So remember not to call or stop by."
know," I said, pretending not to care. I looked around the
room, afraid I'd be sick if I looked her in the eye. I looked at
the stereo, wishing the music would stop. I looked at the Rockwell
print and the moon, too. The next song came on.
really good, too," she said. "I like it when he's like,
'So, I continue to continue, to pretend.'"
you say if I said I wanted to meet him?"
I'd say, 'no.'"
"Why would you
want to meet him? You said he was a prick."
"Why is he a prick?" she asked.
looked at her and said, "Forget about it."
know," she said, avoiding eye contact with me this time, "when
I told you what happened I was in shock myself, and I probably exaggerated
more than I should've."
"Forget about it," I said.
really wasn't that big of a deal," she continued. "He's
just used to sex being part of the relationship, and I'm not."
I don't care."
"What is your problem?" she yelled.
turned to her and calmly said, "I don't have a problem."
I can't stand you!"
"Good," I said.
we don't have to hang out anymore," she said real cool.
looked down at her tan legs on my lap. I wanted to push them off,
tell her to "Fuck off!" and leave. Instead, we sat there
in tense silence. We were so sick of each other. The damn Simon
and Garfunkel album was still playing. I put my hand on her leg.
I touched her skin with my fingertips. I hated her. Outside, it
began o drizzle. I heard the raindrops break against the windowsill.
She exhaled. I slid my hand up. Rain came through the screen. I
felt the drops burst on the back of her neck.
I left a few hours
later. She didn't walk me out that night. I went down the stairs,
toward the front door. The cat sat next to it. It watched me slip
out of the dark house. Outside, everything was wet. It was still
humid out. I'd hoped the rain might kill the mugginess, but it lingered.
I walked down Cypress Street, looking at Maggie's fake moon hanging
low in the sky.
to Issue 1, 1999