By Mitchell Grabois
When I came back to the U.S., I put an ad on Match.com: I do not have blockages in my sinuses. I have Dustbowl allergies, allergies my parents brought from Oklahoma in the thirties. I don’t sleep. I’m unpleasant. I want you to know the truth.
Cheryl was the first to respond to my ad. Cheryl rusts from the inside. Her organs are pig iron, the connectors (intestinal, esophageal, eustachian) are lead, green corruption at their joints. She was made strong by Russian ancestors but not made to last. She’s rusting on the inside and her female organs are doing something down there, she doesn’t know what. She’s only seventeen but already menopausal. Three years of sex was all she’d had before this disaster befell her, erasing her maternal fantasies. But boys still crawl in her bedroom window, the sex as mechanical as heavy-metal drumming, but satisfying all the same.
Kayla was the second to respond. Kayla has a yard sale, sells her Minnie Mouse ears and matching gloves, then snap…! She has a vivid memory of herself as a suburban Mouseketeer, naïve, sweet, innocent… Regretting the loss, she runs down the street breathing hard. Her hair flies out behind her, snarled red. She hopes to spy the buyer—maybe at another sale… Kayla’s neighborhood is not so good. When she returns home, all her other possessions are gone, things she wanted to sell and things she had decided to keep after all. Even the tables are gone.
Kayla wakes to Olivia Newton-John working out on the Total Gym, $14.95/30 day trial. Kayla remembers when she herself wore a tight black leather mini-skirt and looked so good. Kayla switches channels, watches a documentary on the Holocaust, goes into the bathroom and gazes at the reflection of her thin, weak arms. Kayla’s not so sure the Holocaust ever happened.
Kayla squirts sunscreen on her toothbrush, realizes her mistake, laughs to herself, a light moment, one few and far between. Kayla’s cat wears a chronically peeved expression and wonders if it’s too late to become feral, already his fate in two of nine alternative universes.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over 700 of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available on Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.