It was always 5 in the morning when I lived there.
The drugstore sold postcards of a tall brown building, and dirty snow melting around the base of an elm with bare limbs. The sky was tap water white. The postcard said, “Administration Building,” in block letters.
I bought one every week. I wrote, “Avery, come see me. I am mostly free always,” and sent it to New Mexico.
Sometimes, the snowdrift blocked my entrance.
I dreamt once a week of New Mexico or being near New Mexico, in an adobe train depot with no phone.
My sister called the morning blackbirds appeared, dead in the snow. A brick wall went up around my apartment complex. Somebody, maybe yesterday, maybe last night, painted the wall white. My boots went missing. Sometimes the stove was on, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the last time I cooked something.
My sister said, “Maybe, it’s like Avery and her husband. They got an apartment in Los Angeles. After she moved in with him, the cereal boxes were empty every morning. Cans of soup went missing. Broken pretzels, cracker crumbs. Avery thought her husband woke up and raided the pantry. He thought she did it in her sleep. They got out the scale. But no one was gaining weight. He installed a camera.”
Someone says Trotsky died in Mexico and I see a dusty boxcar, a cracked window. I smile faintly. But Los Angeles has no image. It felt like swallowing. I thought I was the ghost in my own apartment and my apartment was Los Angeles.
A tiny woman had been living in the crawl space above their pantry.
Like I had not been paying enough attention. Like I lived, missed, was missing too much.
My sister called to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day. It was Valentine’s Day, she said.
Happy Valentine’s Day, I said and got off the phone.
I finished my glass of water, set it by the sink, walked over to the bed and went to sleep. When I woke the next morning the glass had been broken.
I had been living alone too long. Thinking and speaking had become the same thing. I looked at the pantry and all I could think was, “Do you love me?”
Jessica Alexander is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Utah. The two pieces in this issue of Blip Magazine are her first published work.