She is a half-life. She has an alter ego tattooed to her arm. People mistake her for a movie star they can never remember the name of. She thinks she needs to tailor her jeans but pinches her waist for love handles. She calls herself many names in her sleep, all of which turn into real people in her dreams. When she wakes up in the morning her boyfriend hugs her tight to his chest and they discuss. He is never the one she loves in her dreams. She levitates over the houses of old lovers until she wakes up and can’t remember the imaginary name of the old boyfriend’s new lady. She doesn’t know what it means. Her boyfriend thinks she feels trapped so she learns to keep the harm of the dream in her sleep. She wakes up to her naked body. Out the window lawn mowers split grass into a fresh green smell. She sucks it in. Tomorrow is her birthday and she calls herself old, half as much as she wants, not nearly who she thinks she is. After breakfast she is sad because breakfast is the best meal of the day. Then her boyfriend offers her his, and she tells him not to. After all, he is underweight, and she needs something to look forward to.
Amends, For Him
He drew a circle around her body and kissed her cheeks. Inside the circle he placed a box and chalk. He wrote Happy Birthday on the box and then, in smaller words, To The Most Beautiful Chocolate Dino.
She jumped out of the circle.
Wrapped in twine inside the box were five distinct chocolate bars of his choosing. He opened one and gave it to her, told her the man from the store had sent it especially for her. She took a bite and offered him a square he refused.
Outside they walked along the boulevard, she mirroring his walk so their shadows merged in the dusk.
When they got back she was angry with him for being too kind. He went to sleep and she dreamed of love. Even in her dreams she knew the reason for each one. Something like him was too new to her mind. Like washing cold coffee out of a cup to ready it for warm cider, her dreams drained her mind of everything before. She knew she needed to be ready, and every night washed her clean.
He woke before her. With the chocolate he couldn’t eat the night before smudging his teeth, he shook her to wake.
Heather Palmer has written the online-serialized novella Charlie’s Train (the2ndhand), the chapbook Mere Tragedies (Girls With Insurance) and the novella Complements: of Us (Spork Press), and a host of magazine publications. Her work explores absurdity-inspired adventures and biographical curiosities. She has blogged for FEARLESS chocolate and teaches grammar at Harold Washington College of Chicago.