by Anji Reyner
Jan will start life next week, but now she is busy roasting turkey. While in charge of the meal, she forgot the stuffing. Dry cubed bread will be recycled into croutons for salads she will never eat. Unless.
Garbage day also falls on Thursday. The crew comes early on holidays, usually before eight. Jan woke up as the blue truck rumbled past her driveway. She jumped into her robe and ran to the garage, but it was too late. The forgetting of the stuffing is probably connected to garbage forgetfulness. I know it all smells.
When the time arrives, Jan sits quietly at the table, listening to her aunt's shifting shoe position. Leaning into each bite of breast, she moves her right foot forward, then back. The foot closest to Jan.
Jan dismembers pickled beets, embedding them in mashed potato hills. Brown gravy seeps toward scarlet vinegar pools. The instigating fork drips on lacy tablecloth.
The radio barely sings Christmas because the volume is low. It makes it easier for me to hear what is going on. I can never miss what comes next.
Later, just before pie, Jan's sister says to her, "You are such a boar." The sister says "you" because its one note is open-ended. The "boar" part confuses Jan, because Jan belongs to the year of another animal. While her sister is bathrooming, Jan stuffs the bag of dry bread into the visiting purse. It sticks out.
What are you doing now?
Once, driving past a plot of cows, I said it smelled like Band-Aids.
The next day, family departed, Jan sits on her adjustable couch. Thighs above knees are crushed by an enormous ceramic bowl of popcorn. Butter accumulates on her hands, inevitably impressing her pants. As ever, too much salt.
She watches the eleven Grizzlies on the field, smooshing Spiders all over the place. That's what should have happened but supposed to happen never happens when you want it to all the time.
The next commercial identifies her present malady: sadness accompanied by bad lighting and sweatpants. Her reaction to her reflection is undetectable and delectable to me.
By the way, why is she refrigerating an empty box? She removed the last of the cans, but left their container on the glass shelf, alone.
Looking at the sign above the ticket window, I insisted it said "Box of Ice." I was quite warm at the time.
Jan spins around in her office chair on Monday, head thrown back. It is the best way to view the items sitting on her desk. Her ideas used to trickle. There was ample time to bucket them. Now they stream, but it has been discovered some of the water was peed in. Self-bailing though it is, her mind is overcome. Where the money is where the money was. Did she need to subscribe to so much? The IRS was considerate, considering.
She listens to some music but none of the music is the kind of music that is going to make her feel. Instead, she cries. Someone comes into her office, just about letting her forget. The someone wants a copy of her plans.
From my seat overlooking the ocean, the bird's easy flight is visible. Look at that chicken, I exclaim.
Jan has experimented before, producing results.
One: Do not let popcorn into the garbage disposal. Or potatoes, plastic, meat.
Two: A petite machine projected "I'm interesting" on her face. The words flashed for fractions of seconds, but her conversations began to last longer. People stayed to listen, even about feet.
Soon, the audience again started to leave before Jan had ended. So she projected "funny" on her forehead. Response was negligible. Finally, she tried "sexy," but found the follow-through excessive.
On the last trip to the store, she squeezed by a woman's spilled groceries. Between the concrete support and the soda machines, there did not seem to be enough room for a second person to squat and gather. I think she could have created space.
What are you doing now?
Still nothing, dumbass.
One below outside, wind depressing the garden's dead heads. Jan lies naked on a long ottoman, relaxing. All of her old clothes have been dispersed and her sister will pick up the last of the used furniture.
Accounts deactivated, profiles deleted, lessened opinions tucked away. Secession from all unions is complete and finally nobody knows what she is doing.
One above, the wind the same. Thunder snow blowing sideways. A full glass of water, not coffee, marks the table beside her. Her body flattens and individual elements resist connectivity. She oozes; spreads thin.
Stab her arm before blood. Out come the planes, set symmetrically.
As ice on car windows (and other single panes), Jan isn't the kind easily broken up by wiper fluid. She must be scraped. Not every day, just when the humidity demands. To me, her patterns are the prettiest. If I wanted it to that's how it would it end and so it does.
Now, what are you doing?