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December 22, 2020

3 Fictions

Leila Register

Best of Everything

Bumper to bumper is what my across-the-street neighbor Terri calls having two business meetings in a row. Terri has a German Shepard she walks twice a day. Once at 8:00 and then again around 4:00. I’m always on my porch when she takes him out and she always says hello even when I have my head down in my book reading the same sentence over and over. I can’t finish anything these days. Books, movies. Conversations. A friend will call and five minutes in I pretend I have to tend to an emergency. I’m good at coming up with them. My sister’s tire is flat and she’s stuck on the 10th street exit. My dad found a couch on the side of the road and needs my help—two-person job. I started an oven fire. My mother’s calling. I should write these down so I don’t use the same emergency twice on the same friend. People get suspicious when a crisis happens more than once. One time I read a story about a woman with a fear of flying who dated a man she didn’t love because his last girlfriend died in a plane crash. She thought there was no chance in hell one man could have two girlfriends killed by a plane. People criticized her, but I don’t know. Whatever gives you peace of mind. Yesterday Kate told me about something called narcissistic tendencies and I’m worried I’m afflicted. The symptoms are all over the place. Insists on having the best of everything – car or office is one. Exaggerates achievements and talents is another. Last year I told someone’s boyfriend that I was getting paid $500 to sing background vocals for a local band. The truth is I was getting $50 and it was only because their usual singer got hit by a car.


Dust Collector

Bought old postcards at the antique store. Addressed to Juanita from Steve. The weather is nice and pleasant. He misses the kids. Wonders what she’s doing and if they’re still in that same house. Old furniture is always better than new except for rugs. Spent $26 dollars on a 2x3 print of drawings of old cameras. It’s full of colors that look good everywhere except for when I use them. But I don’t paint anymore or take pictures. Got a letter in the mail. Addressed to Reverend and Ada Brown. Thank you for leading the children through the wilderness to the Lord when their spirits needed it most. Hung it up on my fridge next to the wedding announcements. You slid my favorite ring up and down my finger. Got on one knee. Pretended the ritual. Made a little joke about it. It didn’t matter. Wrong hand.



Apparently I can’t have it all. This only matters if you count being touched and adored as all which I don’t. I’m reading the Vivian Gornick book. Keep getting five or ten pages in and falling asleep. It’s a wonderful book I tell everyone. I’ve changed clothes I’ve lost track of how many times today trying to become different people. This morning I swept the floor, covered with  flour from my sister’s challah bread experiment. I’ve forgotten what to write about. I’m guilty. I’m having fun with the past. Fun with a man who’s always reading a book with some bald genius on the cover. Always rolling cigarettes and spilling tobacco on my new couch. Can pick up on what I’m saying without me having to say it. What is he thinking about? I’ve spent the whole day eating. I’m singing Martha Wainwright, in touch with something for the first time in years. It’s funny how easily you can be sucked back in. By you I mean I. My sister is making mojitos in the kitchen and her questions are endless. Can I use sugar instead of simple syrup? How about lime juice? Is club soda Sprite? No yes and no I say. I’m lying on the couch. Worst headache of my life. Behind me a man in a chair shares his secrets. On TV there’s counting and truth-telling or something like it. I wish I could write poetry. Never know how to create the line breaks, where one thing should end and another should begin.