|poster by Alphonse Mucha, public domain, WikiPaintings|
I’m looking for something to wear when I find the t-shirt in my best friend’s closet. I’m so shocked for a minute that I forget what I’m doing or where I am at all and then I get a whiff of gin and remember that we’re on a schedule, sort of. She is waiting for me. She is impatient. She is maybe a little angry that I had spilled so much gin on myself because that gin had cost her money and she is in between jobs and two months behind in her rent.
I rip a glittery looking wifebeater from a hanger, stuff the t-shirt in my purse and drop my alcohol-soaked top on the ground. I am ready to dance.
Except not really, anymore. I’m not ready for anything.
The problem is not that I’m wondering where she got the t-shirt or why it says CUMBUCKET.COM across the front in big black letters. The problem is that I know.
The problem was that last year, when I had meant to type craigslist into the address bar on my ex’s computer, I had been distracted by a bird slamming straight into the sliding glass window, concussing itself with a smear of blood and feathers and beakbone before dropping to the concrete. The problem was I had only gotten so far as “c” when I’d heard the bang and jumped from my seat to run to the window. The problem was that after about seconds the bird’s corpse had become uninteresting and I’d walked back to his computer and the address bar had auto-filled itself and directed me to a website that exclusively featured women kneeling down in front of galvanized aluminum buckets filled with horse semen.
Most of the women vomit up the semen up about half way through. Right back into the bucket. And then they start from square one again. The women who finish the whole bucket get a t-shirt.
The problem is that when people tell you your worst enemy is your imagination, they’re wrong. When people tell you that whatever you’re imagining is probably worse than the real thing, they’re wrong.
Imagination is never as bad as the internet.
The problem is that I don’t know which way to be upset, so when I start sobbing in the cab and my best friend turns to me and tells me it’s okay, that I don’t smell like gin and that I look pretty and that my ex didn’t deserve me and that any one of the guys at the club will be lucky to go home with me, all I can do is let her hug me while I press my teary waterproof lashes against her shoulder.
We make the cab pull over so I can throw up and she rubs Preparation H into the crook of her arm to tighten up the needle holes, then she hands me a breath mint. I suck on it ferociously, clasp her face between my hands and look at her hard. “Everything will be okay,” I tell her and she laughs.
When the wetness crept out beneath the door, I watched for a while with mild interest before I remembered that I was not dreaming. The wetness tinged the carpet pink. I opened the door, I held my breath: I expected the water to touch the ceiling. I expected to see your body floating above me. Nothing floated. My ankles got cold. The water was uncomfortable. Not dream like. Nearer the site of the wounds the wetness was red instead of pink. I was afraid of turning the water off, of the finality of that: I kept everything running. I considered dissecting your body to create a library of you. I would label the jars: Ryan’s mole; Ryan’s left incisor; Ryan’s pineal gland; Ryan’s clavicle. But there would also be a finality in that, almost as much finality as there would be in turning the knob of the faucet. Your eyes were open and they looked like fists. The razor blade stayed lodged in one wrist, camped there like a stubborn tourist. I crawled into the bath.
Andrea Kneeland's first book, the Birds & the Beasts, is from Cow Heavy Books. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Prick of the Spindle, Dark Sky Magazine, Knee-jerk Magazine, Juked, Everyday Genius, Corium Magazine, Dogzplot, and mud luscious press. She is a web editor for Hobart.