She swings from strand to strand often landing to sit on my left ear. At the grocery store, she waves to the cashier and asks about his day. His response is polite but disinterested. Later she’ll tell me that she thinks he’s sad. I’ll say that maybe he was just having a bad day.

When I’m at work, typing with my back curved, a spiral staircase to nowhere, she’ll remind me to sit up straight before taking a nap nestled beside my bangs. I’ll pull my shoulders back and feel the space open under my ribs.

At night, after dinner, when the neighborhood lights come on and the grass in the park across the street looks purple instead of green, she’ll make gasping sounds and tsk tsks while we read the next chapter of a cozy thriller. As my fingers shift to the top of the page and grab hold of the corner her voice stops me, Wait, wait, I’m not ready. At the end of the book she always announces, I knew that the weird woman did it. I could tell from the very beginning.

Sometimes when I drink coffee she’ll stroll along the rim of the mug, closing her eyes and inhaling the steam. She’ll say, It makes your breath stink but it smells so good when it’s still in the mug. I know the smallest poke from my finger would send her flying into the dark roasted lagoon she’s circling. I don’t tell her that. I resist the urge.

Hours after I’ve turned off the lamp in the bedroom and settled under flannel sheets, my eyes won’t close. More than a hundred sheep have bounded over a low wooden gate to the soundtrack of her deep and even breathing. Still, my eyes won’t close. I let my hand slip down my body, between elastic and warm skin. I think about the cashier from the grocery store. The sandpaper stubble on his jawline against my thigh. My fingers fly and I moan. She stirs, rustling in my hair. I stop. She pats my head, and before going back to sleep says, Go on I know you need this. I finish what I started, but the last thing I remember before falling asleep is not the cashier. The last thing I remember is a dainty finger dipping into a honey sample cup at the farmer’s market, and her voice, as she licks the golden drops, This is perfection.  

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Veronica Klash loves living in Las Vegas and writing in her living room. Her work has appeared in Cheap Pop, Ellipsis Zine, and X-Ray Lit, among others. You can find her on Twitter @veronicaklash.