Mary Miller

You call me from Queens, where you’re living with a Moroccan man you found in the paper. It’s December and there’s this smell you can’t identify. The smell isn’t bad but your nose doesn’t recognize it, so you think about it all the time. The damn thing follows me everywhere, you say. And then: I think it might be me. You say this quietly as if the man might be listening.

In April, you move to Dallas but Dallas doesn’t work out so you continue on to Austin. You stay there for a while, meet a girl. Her name is Nora and she’s good for you until she isn’t. But when you leave, you miss her, so she comes to stay with you in Chicago.

Nora lands a job in a high rise, walks around unplugging coffee pots and toasters. She develops a bad case of psoriasis before falling off the wagon. You tell me that things went badly after this, confirming your suspicions. This has its own satisfactions, you say, the confirmation of one’s suspicions.

One November day, your horoscope advises against travel but you do it anyway. First in a car, then in a plane, then in a bus. The bus was the last straw. There is internal damage. It doesn’t hurt much, you tell me, from your hospital bed. Remember the time you hit me in the nuts with your purse? That hurt worse. You still carrying around all that crap?

When you get well, your job has replaced you and your bones hurt so you move back to Dallas. I never really gave Dallas a go, you say, and I want to tell you that it doesn’t matter, that it’s all the same, but you wouldn’t believe me. So I say what I always say: Dallas sounds nice. Maybe I’ll come visit.

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