Here we are in a grocery store, this is the beginning.

In line waiting to pay for my hippie chow, I drop my wallet. The guy in front of me picks it up: this is his excuse to flirt with me, which is fine. He’s chatty without being weird. He’s handsome. He’s buying fruit.

We talk about the fruit. He has picked out good apples. Automatically I slide into my standard safe little daydream, the way I do with any stranger who holds still in my line of vision. Habit. I am idly memorizing the excellent rectangle of his sideburn (this may come in handy) when I get shoved, hard. I turn around and there she is.

She says Sorry without looking at me, and heaves the biggest dead turkey I’ve ever seen onto the conveyor belt. It is not even close to November.

Her back pockets are crammed with what must be forty packets of Kool-Aid she is stealing. They’re poking out all over the place and a pink lemonade is about to fall. I say so, and she stuffs it back down, unconcerned. I look at her and I think, Pink Lemonade, and that makes me happy and I don’t know why.

It isn’t much of a conversation. We’re in a goddamn grocery store. I am scared stupid the whole time. Worse than being afraid I sound dumb, I know for a fact I sound like a total idiot maniac. I’m stuttering. It’s the best I can do. My brain is all Pink lemonade, clementine, I don't want to leave this place without you. I try not to say these things out loud, but one gets out, and she grins, and I’m tarzan smashing facefirst into a tree, full stop.

Because it is the biggest thing I can think of, and because I know it will work (because I have been wanting to do this forever), I look Alice in the eye, and I say, Come with me. And I walk away.





Or, here we are in a coffeeshop. This is the real beginning. (This is many months later. Our bodies have never touched. I am more aware of this every day. Except for one night when we were lying around on her living room floor and I was telling her about the scar where the doctor’s knife slipped when he was slicing me out of my mother’s belly, and Alice leaned over and traced the little vertical groove by my ear. A fingertip. This was so unexpected I blushed and hurried the rest of the story and turned on the tv. Note to assassins: it is easy to overpower me, touch me gently and I’ll do the job myself.)

Alice and I are sitting at a tiny table with our chairs pushed far back. I am careful to keep my feet in my own space. I don’t want to crowd her, ever. I know what that feels like. I can still smell her from here. It’s enough.

It’s a good morning, I have hot coffee and I’m calm. Sometimes it is that easy.

And out of nowhere, surprise: I start crying over this thing in the paper. It’s not even about a kid or a fireman or the things that usually get me. It’s these cabbies. It says that most of the city’s cabdrivers are immigrants from Africa, and most of them hang around the airport all day. Miraculously they do not have to eat at the stupid airport food court – their wives and families have set up a series of food wagons in a vacant parking lot. There is no mcdonalds or burger king garbage for sale here, only the foods they were raised with. They eat things like fufu, what is fufu? and spaghetti with bananas, and soup with white curls of cow skin floating in it. The guy in the photo is holding a paper plate loaded with things I do not recognize. He is grinning and pointing to a crusty brown lump and I think, Thanks, somebody, for planning this right. Thanks for not making this guy have to suffer through a shitty american prefab lunch every day. Thanks for the lizard ass stew, or whatever is making him so happy.

Shit. I try so hard to be a badass for Alice, and here I am whimpering over some human-interest fluff. It’s just, the world is a lot sometimes, things work out perfectly sometimes. I’m a fool sometimes. I try to explain but all I can get out is, Yam paste – these cabbies …

Alice whispers, Jesus Christ, with scorn, but also with tenderness. The tone you might use on your dumb little sister who you secretly love very much. Sometimes I find this attitude embarrassing but then again this is a tone of voice she seems to save just for me, and honestly I am not turning down anything that comes from Alice.

Yeah, I say. I know. Sorry. I laugh a little. I blot my eyes on the top edge of the classifieds. I ask if I have eyeliner running all over my face.

She says, Yeah, and newsprint. She leans over the table and kisses me quickly on the neck, then draws back a few inches and holds very still. I’ve gone paralyzed and hot. Her hand is on my shoulder, delicate. It’s a bird that might be gone any second. I am afraid to breathe or shut my eyes but I do both. I shut my eyes and I breathe in and I breathe out. I wait for her to decide. Like all nightmares, this takes a long time. I am sure she can hear my heart going crazy for her, but, I realize, that’s okay.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.