My pencil case is missing. It will turn up in a rearrangement of the universe, but my brain keeps fussing the small things. It is midnight when I take a recipe for Jerusalem Artichokes and lay the ingredients onto the clean bench. I froth the butter and I stir the soup with my right hand while I read the news about Ukraine on my phone in my left. I am worried about extending myself, about returning my kitchen to its hospital perfection before I get to bed. I am a little OCD since the beginning of the year when my husband left and I moved into this warehouse apartment in the city, into a café that went bankrupt and abruptly renovated into a residence.
Today, a girlfriend said her partner did not want her to tell anyone they are going to terminate. For the second time! I told her to let me know if I was needed but I don’t want to be involved; essentially, I told a lie. This year is turning out to be about babies. A kindergarten teacher, recently met, was going to send her six-month princess to sleep school but I talked her to trying some relaxation tapes.
My friend is East European, built broad, flat and tall, peasant-like underneath her diva’s persona; tight and lacy and this side of flashy, like her Nona, who rode a horse and kept her lands by way of a gun. Last time my friend was pregnant, she had been taking party drugs so she could sleep. She made plans to go on a detox that got derailed. “Life happens,” she said. She works into the night, in IT, asks my advice and takes only a third. In her eyes, I am the best human being in the universe and I am bound by her affections.
I don’t think it is her fault. We don’t know what to do anymore when people are being killed by the hundreds in my left hand, on my mobile’s Instapaper app.
The soup is too creamy for this time of the night, and since I never eat leftovers I pour it down the drain, and when I finally have a shower, I see the most amazing creatures mist up on the screens and regard me.
Girija Tropp is a winner of the Boston Review Prize and the Josephine Ulrick Literature Award 2006. She has been published in AGNI, Best Australian Stories 2005 and 2006, Fiction International, Mississippi Review,Denver Quarterly, Chimurenga, and other magazines.