Variations on you (2nd person experiments) PART 2

"Little Chicken"



You are in a room

In a house

On a street

In a part of town you've never seen before.


...What you're wondering is whether that marimba asserting and reasserting itself in 3Ž4 is just in your head, or if that skull-dented-moon-faced guy shaking in the corner can hear it, too.

You don't really care.

You're here now again; a place (bare floor)

A time

And idea (empty headed)

But you don't care about any of those either.

You think now maybe that this could be a Latin themed party; there are chili pepper lights, sure, but you cant tell if those are Spanish ruffles on that skinny girl's dress, of it her boyfriend just tore the bottom of it in the bathroom. You saw them walk out, shut the door two satisfying clicks behind them, beaded-sweaty, beat. You'll keep watching them all night, exhausted.

You're sitting on the stained couch with your red plastic cupped drink and your fingers sticky with anticipation and you think you're going to stay. If you go back, outside to the public transportation, to the 9th floor apartment, to the tap water and the streets, so many things could strike you down.

You have nothing better to do now than wait and to think about your mother. You do both of these things more often than you'd care to admit.


When you were twelve years old, you knew this guy who lived on the streets and your dad called him a bum. This bum you knew, he used to play drums on overturned tin garbage cans in the park, 20 hours a day, stopping only to rest his eyes, he said, or to drink the can of Pepsi that you would occasionally buy for him because you always stopped at Charlie's Shop on the way home from 6th grade anyway and you usually found a few extra dollars on the table in the mornings. Your mother liked to leave some cash for you and some for Salma, the cleaning lady, who you liked even though she smelled like curry, because she had beautiful fingernails and let you stay up late to watch dirty sitcoms.


This bum you knew, he played drums on overturned cans and he told you stories. He told you the story about the only girl he'd ever loved. She'd been killed five years ago, he said. She'd fallen through the subway grade on 45th and Broadway and landed on her back on the electrified third rail of the 1/9 train. This happens to approximately 1.3 people per year, the bum said, statistically. His girl had lived on the highest floor of the tallest building on the West Side and she'd been killed by the sidewalk. That's when he knew, the bum said, that's when he knew, that's when he knew, he knew, he said, that the ground and the sky were definitely going to war. The sidewalk is always jealous that the buildings are so high. The buildings are always jealous that the ground is so low. She'd been a regular Helen of Troy, this girl, the bum said, man she was beautiful. He didn't want more blood on his hands, he said. So he played on the garbage cans because they right in between the streets and the clouds and the loud noise distracted everyone. We all know that no one can go to war when they're really distracted, the bum said, and you believed him, of course, because you were twelve and you would've believed


Ten years later, when you met the boy with the stupid blue eyes, you were walking down Avenue A thinking about high gas prices and wearing that pair of jeans you still can't seem to get rid of, no matter how bad they look on you. You were dead tired, circles under your eyes like you'd been pummeled by the beaks of small, angry chickens. He stopped you, though, jeans and all, and asked directions to the Bowrey, which was only 7 blocks away.

And so you gave him directions to the Bowrey and it was easy because it was only 7 blocks away.

But he asked you if you had time to walk him there, and once you arrived he admitted he'd known all along, after all, its just a

Left-right-left-cross at the Houston intersection-left-right-left again

He'd just wanted your company.


You let him take you out to dinner

A movie

A party and you moved in with him 3 months later.

You rode into his life on the big lazy curlicue of his nights and his friends and then he and you started going to parties in parts of town you didn't know with big antique stained couches and jarring new-new wave music that you could never dance to because you were too confused and he thought you were being clever, saying that new-new would make new wave old-new, and so you crossed your eyes and stuck out your tongue and he took it into his mouth

and kissed you like that.


three months isn't long enough to keep people from getting sick

and he got sick.

He said he got sick

He got sick because you weren't really that smart back then, because you hadn't been all places you said you had and done all the things you said you'd done. Got sick because your stories were in the second person, and that gets old


He got sick because you spoke in monotone.

Because you were monotonous you were full of bad ideas.

Then he made a mess of the bathroom (sick), threw things, because he'd found out that there were other girls with good libraries and thick dictionaries and pretty smiles who knew east from west and danced.


you took your stuff from his apartment and it fit into two large suitcases because, really, you didn't have much to begin with, and you went to live with Vicky on Macdougal because she'd been looking for a roommate anyway and she liked to go to parties with couches and strangers and you thought it might be fun.

You and Vicky started walking to work together and you talked about how loud the traffic helicopters were on Monday mornings and you barely ever thought of him. Except one day Vicky got hit in the head by a brick falling from the sixth floor of a building that was being renovated and she spent a month in the hospital recovering from a major concussion and you had the whole apartment to yourself. So you started hosting parties yourself and people spilled beer all over your couch and the arms grew pockmarked with cigarettes and sentimental kisses and you almost wished Vicky would stay in the hospital, a thought that made you kick yourself hard enough to bruise, so when she moved back in, you moved out.

Two weeks ago you were on the subway and the train ground to a halt. You and a car full of people were stuck in the subway tunnel for three hours. You stared hard at a lot of faces, trying to memorize them because you'd always wanted to be someone who doesn't forget a face.

And he was there.

No, not in your car, but in the next one over. You could see him holding onto the pole, sitting down, standing up, checking his watch every 5 1Ž2 minutes, wearing that floor length leather jacket that looked so stupid on him that you'd actually grown to like he.

He never looked over. So you thought about ways to fix your tap for three hours. Maybe you'd call the plumber, or else your mother.

Last week you tripped on 13th and skinned your knee, deep and severe like you used to when you were a kid. Tectonic sidewalk went up at itself, earthquaked and there were big fat bumps in the pavement.

You saw him at the A&P and he didn't say hello.

You're living alone on the top floor of your apartment building, a short, stout teapot complex with no rooftop garden, no patio. You noticed this morning that you ceiling is leaking after last night's rain. Chunks of modern stucco have fallen to the floor and there's a water mark that looks like a rat and its spreading. You can almost see the sky and you know it smells like pine sol.

You didn't want to be home. You came to this party on Lafayette around nine.

And so


You are sitting on the couch and looking at him from across the room. He nods once in your direction, but otherwise keeps to himself, mostly. Keeps to himself and to that girl with the Mohawk scaffolding and a scar three inches wide. He keeps to her all the way into the bedroom, the bedroom of some guy

In some apartment


Where you know no one, really, and you don't really care.

The music is too loud, the music is too new.

You want to leave, except you cant

You cant go outside

You cant go outside because

You're pretty sure the sky is falling.

About the author:

griffin epstein is currently living out her dream in ireland. or, that is, she would be living out her dream if she could remember her dreams, but she doesn't think she has dreamt lately. she thanks you for reminding her that people dream every night, but she's pretty sure she's not a person. she is on permanent hiatus from nyu's tisch school, where she studied acting, and is currently ruining her mind with philosophy textbooks. if you can point her in the right direction, you should.