There is loneliness in subdivided headings and columns but there is also a space with frozen margaritas and hands rubbing your back. Many love languages later you decide what’s best on the yellow quilt. Many love languages later, it’s the little things that get you, the lights being put up in your apartment or an offering of soup. When the little things are given they are gone and so are the little parts of you. There is so much time left and elapsed that it holds to your pinky toes that you suddenly become very aware of in damp boots. Kissing is pretty gross but so is asking to be loved. Especially when you try speaking to the lakes that come rushing by minutes apart on the highway out the passenger window. Socked feet in the sunny spot on the dashboard we keep throttling a dead chicken with these questions.
These days night dreams get scarier and scarier and you have to walk around for a bit in the apartment to remind interlocking limbs where things are and that she is dead now. She died in your mother’s arms in the house you grew up in. Not the house in the neighborhood that they once dubbed, “Jew Town,” but the one that still technically you belong to. Her legs crumpled on the gravel—it is our fault. She loved to sleep and sleep she did in my mother’s arms because that’s what you do when you are ready to go. “We didn’t want to ruin your Friday night” because that’s all I live for here in the tundras of Ohio, another beer in the same bar. Childhood ends with the death of your childhood pet, and I am a fresh three week-ed adult.
Resistant to change and the weather my mother decided that grass wasn’t fit for Southern California and though this was met with applause by the neighbors the short limbs on her daughter’s long terriered body would no longer find support in the lawn holes burned by her piss. I memorized the view of a second story window in my teen years believing in the foreverness of moments and the witch’s house next door—no one in or out except family and loud children on Sundays to use the pool. Immortalizing the gnarled tree in the front yard splitting into two still self-sustaining lives. I painted and I sang songs out the window collecting the parts of myself to give to others thinking they were important, thinking I was bigger than my twin sized bed.
They chopped the limbs off last year when the witch died and the corner property was finally up for sale. We walked by dusk purple in bare feet, I never put her on a leash especially when there was nowhere to go. She acknowledged her freedom by taking her time with each tree and turning around occasionally to see that my body was still there. We raced for the last stretch of block around the corner to the peeling grey back gate every time, even when she shouldn’t have been running.
Rituals persist in the life of a household dog, hours at a time outside spread on her belly with her snout poking out through the crack in the fence and the concrete. My father, the most emotionally insulated or stunted member of the family shed a tear the morning after when he turned on the kitchen lights and made coffee without her. In her old age she never wanted to be touched. In a way I believe that it was because she didn’t want us to feel the bones coming through. Very far away, I settle into my bed knowing she left us at home. I think about how my home will probably be the next corner lot to go after the witch’s house.
I told a fortune teller my problems at the bar the next night. Choosing to write on an intricate questionnaire form in capital letters rather than checking off boxes for what I thought was wrong with me: LOVE HURTS. She thought I was probably referring to the numbskull boy to my left and the current running between our fingers, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I had been talking about the kind of love that starts on your sixth birthday and dies after your twenty-first. She made me pull out a card from her tarot deck and laughed as she read the word “success” out loud. Almost scoffing she told me, “Y’know maybe I’m reading it wrong” and sipped her third mixed drink. She asked me how old I was and I told her three weeks since my childhood dog died. Then she adjusted her wig pulling it higher over her scalp and giggled a little scratching words onto a faded prescription pad. I walked away and read it to myself. She just wrote: “Chill the fuck out,” and she’s probably right.