Dishes
Myfanwy Collins

We did the dishes rarely—once or twice a week. Mostly they were red tinged wineglasses or heavy blue glasses with crusty milk rims piled up easily and out of sight in the deep soapstone sink. I would lift them one by one and place them on the wooden countertop. Sometimes there would be mold and sometimes not. It depended on how long they’d been there, how hot it was outside. It depended on the closeness and direction of the sun. It was cosmic.

#

The apartment was the middle floor of a Victorian. Ours had been partly the original maid’s quarters. Our kitchen was a sink and a pantry.

Our bathroom had small blue tiles on the floor. Once a dead mouse rotted underneath the claw foot tub.

The moldings, the built-ins, the place had it all. It even had two bedrooms but we used the second one as a den. Until he moved out and then it became my bedroom and the one we had shared became the bedroom of someone else. An other’s room.

#

We could fit two low chairs and a small hibachi on the deck. To call it a deck is a stretch. It was more like a precarious overhang with railings.

I would sit out there and smoke, using the hibachi as an ashtray. The couple next door waved to me once. Pleased and envisioning my entrée into their clever, perfectly ordered lives, I smiled, waved. “Hey,” he said, “Hey, so do you mind taking in that blanket you have hanging there? It’s an eyesore.”

Eyesore this, motherfucker.

#

In the kitchen there was a table he made with green veneer on top and computer legs underneath. I got in trouble once for ironing on it. I had a sheet underneath but still veneer can come unstuck. It’s the glue and the heat from the iron. Things come unstuck.

There was a gas stove, which could double as a heater if the power went out. Asphyxiation was an issue, though.

#

One summer the ceiling in the pantry was coated in tiny worms that plopped down on us. The landlord said they came from whole organic, unprocessed foods. Not my bleached floor then. She said not to worry about them, that if they got in our food we would have more protein in our diet, ha ha. She said to put our food in jars. She said the worms would become moths.

And then what?

They turned into soft white wings, flittering around the pantry.

And then there were more worms.

I went wild with the worms and the moths. I threw out all of the food. I bought ball jars. I scrubbed everything.

Then they were gone.

I blamed the masseuse upstairs. I knew her food must have been organic, worm ridden and full of protein, ha ha. When I moved out I gave her the damn pencil cactus (it would not die no matter how we tried to kill it) as a form of gift torture. She thanked me.

#

The squirrels in the swatch of a yard would not put up with any shit. Give me your food. Right in your face. Give me your food, motherfucker.

#

Parking was a chore. I bumped a car once. And I mean bump—gently tiny rocking bump. I said nothing and got a notice that I was being sued for insurance for totaling some guy’s Monte Carlo with my Civic. These things happen, my insurance agent said, that’s why you should always call me first.

Give me your food.

Someone left notes on all of the cars, calling us on our imagined parking infractions. Taking up two spaces. Parked too close to the curb. Parked too far away from the curb.

Once there was a neighborhood meeting about the notes. We were not in attendance.

#

We brought his old clothes, the ones that would be otherwise left behind, in three black garbage bags to the Salvation Army. I wore a pair of his dress pants from eighth grade that he let me keep. Afterwards we lay side by side in the bed that was no longer ours. Not ours together. We watched the light move behind the blinds, changing from day to evening to night.

When he left I washed the dishes. A wineglass, a blue glass, two coffee mugs. The sink was clean and empty.

 

“I am in this piece. It is more non than it is fiction. It is my voice, my dirty dishes, my mania. And so now you know. This is who I am.”

 

 

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