1988


Jane says, I’m done with what we owe and pinches the cherry, sticks the joint we were sharing in her pocket for later. Oh wake-n-bake! Oh Jane’s apartment! Oh Jane’s shiny toaster and plants! She stares at my stupid smile with purple circled eyes and grips her coffee cup with both her small, thin hands. Jane-of- the morning is very beautiful in a different way than Jane-of-the-afternoon or Jane-of-the-evening. More fragile. Translucent hair on her upper lip lit up by the window sun. I cannot believe I am here.

I ask her, what do we owe Jane? And to whom? I have only known her for three weeks. But I hold my hand out to her across the kitchen table.

Jane looks at her frozen waffle, just rendered warm and fragrant, and puts it in her pocket with the joint. Ignores my hand. Her foot taps so hard beneath her hippy skirt that the floor shakes a bit.

Jane says, what? It feels better than it tastes. My fingers curl on nothing, and I slide my arm back a bit across the Formica.

Jane shrugs. I want to leave the state. Leave the country. Stop being who people expect me to be. I don’t owe them anything.

There is a bottle of pills on Jane’s table. On top of it is a disembodied Barbie head with long dark hair and ball point penned grin. Jane says it cheers her up. The label says 20mg. Take one every morning. The label says, may cause restlessness and anxiety. The label says, may cause seizures. The label says, may cause thoughts of suicide.

What the hell is this? I say, picking up the bottle, rolling Barbie to the floor.

New meds. Jane shrugs and ducks under the table.

For what?

For making me feel like I don’t owe people things. Let’s get the fuck out of here. Today.

I want to ask her more but then she is breathing on my crotch. White light behind my eyes. Oh Jane. I can feel her shaking. The bones in her shoulders. The heat of her breath.

I want to ask her, do you love me? Or maybe, Could you someday? Instead I say, Why me?

Jane slides up my body and into my lap. I don’t do love, she says. But I like how much you want me.

I can feel the energy coursing through her taught little body, like a dog pulling full out on a leash. Jane pops the cap of the pill bottle, swallows two with the last of her coffee. I reach to kiss her neck, but she stands and walks towards the sink with a barefoot swaying dance.

Jane opens the cupboard. Jane pulls out a cast iron pan. Jane turns, comes closer, coils her thin arm back, back into the room and smashes the pan into the window over my head. Glass falls on my arms, on the table in a thousand points of light.

Jane says, you have no idea how done I really am.  

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