Inside Joke


“Hella fucked,” I remarked as Beth beckoned for a towel and some water from the bathroom. I was in the hall, covering all my senses while trying to be there for her. Stop using hella for every adverb, Victor, I hummed affirmatively through my hand and tried not to smell the heavily spiced vomit. The hall had no vents. I reached around the threshold to hand her a gatorade wrapped in a T-shirt. “Really? We don’t have towels? You’re gonna have to do better than this when we have kids.” Mhmmm. I opened my eyes.

She had rarely discussed children. I had never brought it up. Two years ago we met in a target, the bread aisle. She had cucumbers and duct tape in her cart; I had vaseline and a murder novel in my basket. We were both reading the backs of peanut butter jars when, smiling, she leaned in close to me and said, “Imagine if we went to the same register. “I laughed like a drunk old man, which amused her more than the joke. “I’m so down.”  She was, too.

It was her idea idea to add action figures and condoms to the mix, “Just to fuck with ‘em.” But it was my idea to lift up the divider between our stuff last second. I paid for it all and the cashier never even asked us if we needed bags. The cucumbers were cooked. The condoms used. The vaseline let slowly be absorbed. We started to glow. We gave up on thinking things were planned, started to love luck. Years later the action figures sit on a shelf with an iron and some old hats. But the idea that we saved them for a kid seems perverse. Too much to hide.


Ryan is a player of words.

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