Katherine picked the remnants of a fortune cookie from her teeth. She kept toothpicks in an antique Limoge decanter on the dining room table, but the dining room was down the hall. It might as well have been in the next city. She remained in bed and wedged an index finger between her molars.
She used to enjoy eating alone. She would take herself to Glass House or the Laughing Dolphin and balk when the maitre de or hostess would attempt to seat her at the bar.
"A table for one, please," she'd say and smile, her dark brown eyes resolute.
Once seated, she would peruse the menu, pull a tome from her purse, order, and the next two hours were hers. She understood that some found this unusual, but she was used to some finding her unusual and she rarely cared.
Now her flesh bulged and she ate at home, her claret bedspread festooned with to-go containers of sweet and sour pork and brown rice with shrimp. She still hated to cook. That much hadn't changed.
Eleven and a half months had passed since Ben's funeral and her left temple throbbed when she thought of it. She frequently slept on the couch, wrapped in a nubby wool blanket, as often as not still in her clothes. She tried to read but the sentences balled up and she would see him lying prostrate in his father's gray tweed suit, his almond blond hair combed smooth and parted on the wrong side.
She dreamt of him again last night. They were kissing and she could taste the coffee and salt of his mouth. He'd reached for her hand and placed it on his fly and then she'd looked up and his neck was smeared with blood. "You're bleeding," she'd said, but he'd taken it as an affront, another insult she hadn't intended. "I'm always bleeding," he'd spat, lines creasing around his slate blue eyes. Then he'd vanished like one of those awful boys in college.
Katherine looked around her room now. Magazines were stacked twelve deep in the corner. Her sliding closet door rested against the wall, having come unhinged in the spring. She reached for the container of sweet and sour pork and scooped out a slice of onion with her hands.
"You idiot," she said over and over as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
About the author:
Litsa Dremousis wrote, directed, and produced the plays, "If I Wake Before I Die" and "9:00 in the Afternoon". Her work appears in The Believer, BlackBook, The Black Table, Bookmarks, Cranky, McSweeney's, Monkeybicycle, MovieMaker, Nylon, Paper, Paste, Poets and Writers, Rivet, Seattle Sound, the Seattle Weekly, Swivel, and on NPR.