The blender sits in front of us with the promise of lemonade and the danger of making our early-to-bed neighbor call the landlord again. The first time it was vacuuming, which was weird because we never vacuum. And tonight is weird because we never blend. It is these nights of overwhelming lull that drive us to fill the silence aggressively, like crippled bees overcompensating for their lack of buzz. We emit small battle cries as our fingers wrestle for space against the power switch.
Allie works in a bike shop. The part she hates the most is when customers approach her with the preconception that she is a fellow cyclist. In that moment, her entire self feels invalid, as if she is just an imitation of a person, confronted with an unreachable image of what she is supposed to be. And what makes it worse, she says, is that only she knows. It’s like she is an old woman at a college party, lying about her age by sixty years. And how terrible it is to have everyone believe her, simply because they aren’t looking close enough.
I tell her not to worry; that if she were an old woman I would know. That I see that space by the door where her bike doesn’t exist.
We had that conversation about two months ago. I like thinking about it because it ended with her saying that it was too bad we were cousins.
We drink hard lemonade on the porch out of dirty mugs that our sink was too populated to take. Earlier today I finished my latest contemporary romance novel, and soon the company that pays me will publish it under their contemporary romance author name, Stephanie Sands. How’s that for being a phony? In life I am a 24-year-old man who lives in a shabby duplex with a cousin whom he’s hopelessly in love with. On bookstore shelves I am an early-forties woman who resides with her genetically appropriate husband in a beach house on Nantucket. Our only overlapping qualities are the last things written on the back of the book jacket: Stephanie loves the rain and has a growing collection of wind chimes. I think the wind chime bit had to have been a joke made by bored publishers, but I bought a couple after I read it, so you could call Stephanie the smallest bit of inspirational.
When I hear them I like to imagine that people have touched hands accidentally. Allie says it is the sound of unicorns humping.
Tonight the air is still and unicorns are celibate. The warm summer air is okay with me at night, and the alcohol makes other things feel okay, too. Things like silence, and wanting to have sex with your cousin. Allie drinks slowly. She zips up her hoodie and stares into nothing. Our neighbor’s light is on so either we woke him up or he is having a late night.
Whatever it is, I thank him in my head for not disturbing this moment. I’m done with my lemonade but I hold tight to my mug; I know that Allie will be the first one to go inside because I will sit with her forever, and this impending action is like a needle inching closer to my skin. When it happens, she puts down her cup and says goodnight. And I reach and grasp the wind chimes so that they won’t make a sound upon the closing of our door.
About the Author: Timothy Day currently resides in Seattle. Some words that might describe him are restless, absent-minded, and socially awkward. You can keep up with his creative endeavors at frogsmirkles.wordpress.com.
Story Song: "Owl Waltz" by Seabear
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Clem/Poppy and Pinecone