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Vanessa Koepke

So Maybe I Lied?

We share a room at school, so at least there's no denying that we're roommates, since she won't let us be called friends. On the first day she announced in a manifesto voice that she hates precipitation. What do you say to that? I've watched her muscles and tan turn to paste from August to March. I've watched the hair dye stains around her ears wax and wane and the spots on her face, chased by concealer, work around like constellations. It's not like that, though.

How could it? She writes book-report music reviews in the school paper that mention the bands in question out of a limp sense of duty. When she talks, she gets a look on her face like she's locating a very important sheep on a foggy hillside in a landscape painting inside her head. She says things about not being afraid to be modern--embracing synthetic fabrics and organic geometry or something. I have to interrupt.

"New dress, right?"

She milkmaid-plucks the hem, please. "Garage sale. The old lady's kids were sitting on a total Japanese goldmine."

"Huh. I think I've seen a picture of my mom wearing that dress. So anyway, being modern...?"

Her eyebrows push together in her search for the sheep. "YEAH. I mean, there's just nothing compelling about music today because it's all about this naked concentration camp Egon Schiele pain and suffering, whereas I'm looking toward Mondrian's vision of a future, where."

I don't say: you mean, looking back. I do use her shampoo, though. Also, her conditioner. Her pills. I wear her underwear when mine are dirty. I sold some of her CDs in town, when she had some guitarist from some band she doesn't even like living in our room for two weeks, and then doing it. When I thought I had pink eye, I used her mascara. And once I was eating Jolly Ranchers and had a lot of saliva, so I put it in her bodywash. The one that made her so touchably soft for the smelly stick-figure guitarist.

I would rather splash my way to class, imagining her faked doe eyes staring out the window and the phone against an ear. Leaving excuses about important interviews on the voicemail of her professors. Maintaining her dignity against the elements and smoking. When I get to class, everyone will look less than what they think they should, which they're always mistaken about, anyway. We will be fresh and eager like students in a developing nation. But no uniforms or dictator.

Those are the days that postpone the inevitable explanation. Why, I hate you, what did I ever do to you. And what could I say? You make me tired when I know what's going to happen? You make my head dirty and crowded? I don't know what to do when my apologies and my fuck-yous are the same thing?

Vanessa Koepke likes cake for dinner.


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