by Jen Wright
My brother's apartment is cool. Below ground. We're listening to music. I sit on the edge of his bed, legs dangling towards the carpeted floor. Listening.
"Matt," Jeff shouts from the other room. "This is Neutral Milk Hotel."
He forgets I hear everything.
He's ordered a pizza. Ann will pick it up, he tells me. Ann will bring a movie to watch. I stretch across his bed and the melody strange and distant and too loud takes over my body, my thoughts.
It's two days after my sixteenth birthday. My brother has given me his old guitar, paid for lessons. He didn't ask if I wanted them. He's trying to broaden my horizons. I know this. I heard him tell Mom over the phone. Mom agreed. I know they worry. Think I don't know where I'm going. I do.
"Hi. I'm Ann," she says.
She sits down on the edge of the bed, near me. She smells like cantaloupe.
"What's your flav? Pepperoni or mushroom?"
Pepperoni, I tell her. The bed squeaks when she gets up.
In the kitchen I hear Ann say to my brother, "Why doesn't he get a dog? They've got dogs you know."
She is talking about guide dogs; about the fact that even with these dead man's corneas new in my eyes, I might never see. Not like them. Ann is talking about my blindness.
"He doesn't need a dog."
"He could take it anywhere with him. Anywhere," I hear Ann say.
"He does not need one."
Plates clatter down from cupboard shelves. Beer bottles become unsnapped and someone, perhaps Ann, lifts one to lips. A gulp.
"I know, but it'd be such a nice companion. He might even meet a few girls--"
"He is fine," Jeff says of me.
Ann puts two slices of pizza on a TV tray for me. I take a sip from the plastic cup she's set in the right corner, above the plate. Milk. She didn't ask if I'd like a soda. Maybe a beer.
The movie is a drama. There's a lot of talking in it, which I like. Then, it's over. They're in the kitchen. I hear them kissing and other things, washing our pizza plates. My milk cup. The open faucet reminds me of a song my brother played before Ann arrived.
Ann does not leave. She's in bed with my brother. I am in the same room. I'm on the loveseat Ann has pulled out into a bed. They think I am sleeping. I am smelling cantaloupe. I'm seeing cantaloupe over the breathing and bed squeaking, I am seeing the soft pulp of cantaloupe. I slide my hand down past my stomach and I am seeing Ann's tits and wondering if they feel like cantaloupes, if books lie. I am thinking over moans palmed quiet by my brother's hand of my horizons. I see where I'm going. These eyes open to what must be sight.
About the author:
Jen Wright's work has been published in a few other places, including Smokelong Quarterly. She currently lives in New York City.