Now the bell rings and someone is knocking, too. I look through the peephole. She appears when you least expect her to. The dream is that she’ll come running back, tell you she’s sorry, slip off her shoes, and walk back into the bubble. But it’s only been three months, too soon for her to be sorry about anything.
How do I describe D except that one time we spent an evening naked in a filthy fountain in the park? We kissed, took turns pretending to drown each other, and spat the stagnant water in each other’s faces. When we climbed out of the fountain, our mouths tasted like dirt, and our bodies were covered in green stains. The next morning, we spotted a dead squirrel floating in the fountain. It was bloated, dead for a couple of days. We took turns vomiting in a gutter
I grab the BB gun, take a deep breath, and unlock the door.
There she is: bundled up in the cold, wearing the long gray coat with the embroidered rose, a ring in her nose, shoes not fit for the snow but getting her there nonetheless. The paleness of her skin. She could be ninety, but still wouldn’t look any deader than this.
This is pointed at your head, I tell her.
Hi, she says.
What do you want?
My robe, she says.
You want the clothes off my back, is that it?
She nods, gazing at my dead front yard, the abandon made worse by the cold. Sometimes, I ask my nephew to go outside and build snowmen just so I can punch them.
By the way, tell your nephew to stay away from my sister.
I don’t think my sister does. She cut his picture out of the yearbook and stapled it to her underwear. I’d say he’s still very much present.
Once, D chased me around the house with the BB gun, laughing and yelling for me to stop. I was wearing her bra on top of my head, strapped under my chin, pretending I was a fighter pilot. My arms outstretched, making loud buzzing sounds, and every so often I said I was coming in for a landing. Only you can’t predict the crash. Or the BB in your bare foot.
So are you going to shoot? she asks me.
D leaves me in my underwear, as she cradles the robe through the snow like a silky red ghost.
From “The Cereal”