by Sierra DeMulder
You will be out with friends when the news of her existence will be accidentally spilled all over your bar stool. Respond calmly as if it was only a change in weather, a punch line you saw coming. After your fourth shot of cheap liquor, leave the image of him kissing another woman in the toilet. In the morning, her name will be in every headline: car crash, robbery, flood. When he calls you, ignore the hundreds of ropes untangling themselves in your stomach. You are the best friend again. He invites you over for dinner and you say yes too easily. Remind yourself this isn’t special, it’s only dinner, everyone has to eat. When he greets you at the door, do not think for one second you are the reason he wore cologne tonight. In his kitchen, he will hand-feed you a piece of red pepper. His laugh will be low and warm and it will make you feel like candlelight. Do not think this is special. Do not count on your fingers the number of freckles you could kiss too easily. Try to think of pilot lights and olive oil, not everything you have ever loved about him, or it will suddenly feel boiling and possible and so close. You will find her bobby pins laying innocently on his bathroom sink. Her bobby pins. They look like the wiry legs of spiders, splinters of her undressing in his bed. Do not say anything. Think of stealing them, wearing them home in your hair. When he hugs you goodbye, let him kiss you on the forehead. Settle for target practice. At home, you will picture her across town pressing her fingers into his back like wet cement. You will wonder if she looks like you, if you are two bedrooms in the same house. Did he fall for her features like rearranged furniture? When he kisses her, does she taste like wet paint? You will want to call him. You will go as far as holding the phone in your hand, imagine telling him unimaginable things like you are always ticking inside of me and I dream of you more often than I don’t. My body is a dead language and you pronounce each word perfectly. Do not call him. Fall asleep to the hum of the VCR. She must make him happy. She must be She must be his favorite place in Minneapolis. You are a souvenir shop, where he goes to remember how much people miss him when he is gone.