On Monday, I will wake at eight o’clock, brush my teeth, make chocolate chip pancakes from scratch. I will put the dishes in the dishwasher without rinsing them, and they will emerge sparkling warm. I will walk to the office, and when I get there I’ll find a tray of fresh fruit in the kitchenette, left by someone in a good mood. I’ll get praised by my supervisor, and then I’ll leave early to see a Broadway matinee with a friend, one of my very best friends, one of the many friends that I have. In the evening, I’ll make myself dinner, take a hot shower, sit on the couch in my fluffy robe and watch a movie until I fall asleep.
On Monday, when I wake at eight o’clock and brush my teeth I will not skim my tongue over my canines, notice their returning jaggedness, their rediscovered sheen. When I chew my pancakes, I will not remember the taste of Eric, the man I once sucked, sucked until I swallowed his spine. I will not salivate for him. I will salivate for the chocolate chips.
At work, I will not empty the fruit tray into the trash. My supervisor will not scold me in her office, and I will not ignore her words for the luster of her collarbone. I will not seize her by the shoulders or chomp her eyeballs until they gush. I will not cry for Eric.
I will put a note on my supervisor’s door that says Do not disturb. I will leave early for my matinee.
The ticket collector will not recognize me as the one who appears every day wordless, alone. The actors will not recognize me either. The lead actress, in her red wig and clamshell bra, will not remind me of a happier, skinnier version of my former self.
My dinner that night will not be my downstairs neighbor. I will not unhinge my jaw around the showerhead and guzzle. When I put a movie on, it will not be the same movie I put on every night, not the cartoon of the skinny redhead in the clamshell bra. I will not hug my face to the screen when she sings. I will not clamp the screen in my unhinged jaw when she signs her voice away. When Eric appears, prettier than he really was, I will devour him again, but only with my eyes.
Samantha Steiner is a visual artist and Fulbright Scholar. She holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in The Emerson Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.
Artwork: Alexandra Khitrova, Mermaids Sketch