I once tried to spit and it turned out to be a real stringy one so it just kind of dangled from my mouth as I continued walking and it was windy so it thrashed around in the air like debris and I was all hunched over real stupid because I didn’t want it to drip onto my clothes. I know it’s my spit and my own mucus but there’s something about wiping spit from denim jackets that makes me feel weird.
I felt weird. I was walking once and I tried to spit and it was like spaghetti on a first date and I was embarrassed because I couldn’t cut it. My mom had once taught me how to gracefully eat spaghetti but I had forgotten everything staring at your face because you were so pretty.
I got lost, and in my head over a bowl of spaghetti I made a list of things that I thought were pretty. I made a point to leave you out.
Things That I Think Are Pretty:
the sound of macaroni and cheese
sandals smacking on warm cement
Smack, smack. I made kissing noises at you to get your attention from across the room. The room that smelled like weed and I had thought that if I smoked very little I would still be able to get my work done but my laptop felt heavy on my chest and I felt like a puddle of goop and muck seeping into the flannel bed sheets.
Bed sheets: my dog dug a hole into mine. A large gaping hole of white feathers and plush and I came home after being at your house and thought wow, my heart’s gonna look like that soon and I didn’t cry because sometimes I can’t cry because sometimes I’m all out and it’s dry and I wonder if I’ll ever cry again. But crying’s for losers I always say and yet last week I cried so much I threw up in front of Target.
I once tried to spit and it landed on my jacket and it was all stringy and I scooped it up with my fingers and wiped it on my pants because for some reason that seemed like a good idea and it was windy and cold and I remembered that time in elementary school when the force of the wind was so strong I thought I was going to blow away. Sometimes I wish I had because maybe I would have ended up somewhere better like not in your arms or space.
“Space,” you said the first time, “I need space,” and I thought fuck you, you don’t need space and I thought about all the different materials I could use to strap myself to your body because I’m selfish and obnoxious when I’m in love. The list was as follows:
Hair. I changed mine to piss you off and it worked. You didn’t speak to me for an entire week and that’s what I had wanted, I guess. And yet the silence left holes in my bones and I realized how much I wanted you to speak to me but you weren’t speaking to me, and inside I felt like the blue part of the fire, the part that’s the most hot.
Heat, body heat, night sweats, snoring. I could never sleep because you snored so loud but that time I bought earplugs you smacked my head and told me I was being dramatic.
“I gotta put up with all your shit,” you said, “all your hormones and crying,” you said, “snoring is nothing compared to what I do for you.”
What I do for you.
I do a lot, I give a lot, I get nothing. Nothing. You’re nothing. When I’d talk to my mom, she’d tell me you’re a waste and I’d sit there and justify your actions. Justify the purples, greens and blues. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, everyday blues.
I defended you. I made a list of things that defend:
Things That Defend:
white blood cells
Orange juice with extra pulp because I like pulp even if you don’t. Blueberry pancakes, honey, and eggs. Reading and laughter because sometimes we were really great and sometimes the light that came in through the window was a fiery red and a bright yellow.
Sometimes we were warm and comfortable but this time there was sand between our toes. We had drawn hearts in the sand and you ran off into the tide and I watched the salt water fill in the hearts and wash them away in one swift exhale.
Inhale. Exhale. In my car, outside of your apartment before our first date. I was one hour early so I sat in my car and chain-smoked cigarettes until I felt like puking. Inhale. Exhale. I threw a plate of salmon at you. One hour sitting in my car chain-smoking until I felt like puking. Inhale. Exhale. Laying in my bed, it wouldn’t be until a few months later that I realized that you could see my car from your bedroom window.
A pile of cigarette butts collected on the pavement. A pile of sand on your door mat. A pile of books next to the bed.
We Live Inside You
The Complete Works of Anton Chekov
The Fall. The Winter or maybe it wasn’t yet winter. It was December, I don’t know. We had dinner. My mom had once taught me how to gracefully eat spaghetti: with a spoon and a fork. This time I remembered it all.
“Cool,” I had said. “Cool,” you had said and we stood facing each other, rigid in the corner. The corner smelled like piss and shit and morning breath and that way your skin smells when you’re really tired, “I’m really tired of your shit,” I said. And we stood like mountains, completely rigid and awkwardly protruding into space but I knew that if you touched me one more time, I would crumble.
You raised your arm and it was like dead weight and I thought about that time my eighth grade biology teacher told us that murdering someone and transporting the body is really hard because when a person dies, their body weight increases an astounding amount.
You let your hand fall onto my shoulder and it was heavy and you said you were sorry but you weren’t sorry. “You’re not sorry,” I said. “You’re right,” you said, “I’m not” you said, and your hand slid from my shoulder and it felt like warm tar, like sludge.
“You’re a waste of space and time,” I said and I spit onto the sidewalk. I’d been producing a lot of saliva and I wondered if it’s like when you’re scared and you produce a lot of earwax but I wasn’t scared, I was thirsty and tired.
A bus pulled up next to us and I wondered if the sight of my heart on the pavement was too much of a gory scene.
“That’s my bus,” I said and my eye started to itch. You usually drove me home, one hand on the steering wheel, the other in my clutches. But this time, my hands only clutched my beanie and I could tell that you wanted to hug me because you felt pity, because you felt some sort of way but I kind of winced.
“You don’t gotta be so defensive,” you said and I scoffed.
I sat in one of the blue seats. The ones reserved for old people and moms with babies strapped to their chests. Your shirt was black and I watched you go. You had been nice enough to walk me to the bus stop after breaking my heart.
I once tried to spit and it turned out to be a real gooey one. It hung and sloshed and splattered onto my knee. I left it there because even though it’s my own spit and my own mucus, there’s something about spit that makes me feel weird.
The other day, there was a pile of sand on my doormat.
There are a pile of books by my bed.
Alitzah Oros is a design major at the University of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in the Bold Italic and now, here. She is an illustrator and a seller of books. Alitzah likes crying, ice cream, and Franz Kafka. You can find her at the Booksmith on Haight or on Tinder. Selected by Kamala Puligandla.
Image © Travis Wise via Flickr Creative Commons.