Sunday, June 9, 2013

Roommates by Cordelia Perez

The first thing you learn about them is that they are younger than you thought and incredibly secretive. Lauren goes myth hunting, sitting at the white dining table you all share, poring over Edith Hamilton and D'Aulaires.
You spend weeks in the home you share and soon realize you will never bring yourself to care about their lives. Their only quirk of note is a strong physical resemblance to a German movie couple, in spite of being siblings. You strike up an easy nonchalance and decide not to keep tabs on their existence. You don't see the boy leave, but don't care because his name is unmemorable.
You don't see his small pamphlet of cigarette papers that he uses to clean his flute, though you believe you have heard him play once or twice.
You see him take a six pack of beer into his bedroom and feel superior because you don't.
Lauren is less militantly boring, you feel, although she "inspires little more than apathy" as you tell your diary one night.
Six weeks in and out of ignoring them and Summer bathes the power lines outside your window to buzz blue in cold desert nights the way cicadas used to hang their song from trees to let them fall down on your head when you lived on the East Coast.
You don't know where she goes when she leaves but you know that Lauren likes Grape Nuts and you are struck with guilt that you yourself are not so homely, so noble.
She smiles often and you wonder if she is stupid but you smile back and wonder if maybe your disinterest is not a little mean.
You say "Hi, Lauren" and she say "Hi!" And the anticlimax is laughable and you return to deep focus upon yourself.
You go to the store and think you see her, by the bananas, and wonder if you say hi and if you should shop together because when you were a teenager like she is that's what you thought roommates did. But you remember that you aren't really roommates and things are more complicated than that and you look up again and the girl wasn't her after all but this time you aren't mad that Lauren has occupied some space in your thoughts.
You don't know this but she goes alone to the diner that night. Alone to the diner where she orders six yellow dishes and a milkshake. 
You close your eyes in the dark listening to your laptop hum from the dresser and experience and undeniable sensation of peace. You don't see her arms spasm and her hand hit the Oreo milkshake that spills slowly, languidly over her macaroni, her onion rings, her cheese fries, her zucchini soup, as her eyes roll back into her head.
If you had been there you would have been struck by her resemblance to a cartoon character and you would have tried to mop up the Oreo shake as the waitress did. You would try and take Lauren's pulse only to realize that you had no idea how to find a vein because you were only a waitress and you would have cried until the manager and a leather man with white hair come over at which point she will have died.
You would have known that she was dead, had you been there.
You would have heard the manager on the phone with the dispatcher, would have inhaled the scent of her onion rings and heaved on the floor by her table. You would have slept in the booth until your mom drove up to pick you up and your teeth and lips would be salty slick from breakdown at that which breaks down.

No comments:

Post a Comment