to 5

    on the 5ives




there are things that could be moved here, but not without some force

The bar of soap near the kitchen sink reminds me of you. I don't know why. It doesn't even smell like you. My boss brought it back with her from a trip to France or Canada or somewhere. It's misshapen now from heat and irregular jets of water when I get hasty with the juice glasses.
     As much as I hate to admit it, some things just are ambiguous. Like it's not simply the difference between a soda machine and a slot machine, because sometimes, as you know, the soda machine can eat your quarters, and sometimes the slot machine can make you rich, or at least give you some more change with which to ply the soda machine. Do you see where this is heading? And no, I don't like it either. Like I wouldn't be happier per se if the human heart were as placid as pink construction-paper wings, but I would definitely be relieved.
     "What is it with girls and squash?" you asked. I don't know. Sweetness, softness, solitude? Before you cook a cow's heart, you have to soak it in buttermilk to soften it. This should tell you something not entirely obvious. But squash? Bake as for potatoes, page 292.

a girl's best friend

"Here. I'm clearing out." She passed over a gold heart-shaped pendant, encrusted with tiny stones. "I mean it. It's your birthstone and everything."
     "Thanks. It's very nice." The girl didn't wear jewelry—not much, anyway. Decrepit silver, for sentimental reasons mostly: a medal of her patron saint, an old scouting ring, some cheap earrings from a fancy jewelry store on the Quai des Orfevres in Paris (Gold Fevers).
     "You can wear it under your shirt, if you're worried."
     "OK," she said, and wondered what it was she was supposed to worry about.

the opposite of i love you

I keep having urges to send you these strange pairs of found things I keep meaning to send to my father. The stout Fire-King coffee cups in their pristine jadeite splendor. The thirty-year-old Hercules-brand batteries, made by Union Carbide. You might think this is sweet, but let me tell you, it's a niche you don't want to be put in.
     My father is a great guy, don't get me wrong. It's just that he didn't start acting fatherly until I was twenty-six and by then it was too late and I just resented it.
     Around that time I gave him a Father's Day card in which I wrote that, of all the dads in the world, he was the best one for me. This was not fiction. I really did prefer to be left alone.
     We hate our parents most when we most fear we are becoming them. The secret reason I will not pick you is because my mother would. In college, my favorite professor would have put you in the "man on the motorcycle" category: he first mentioned it when I was doing independent study involving Aphra Behn, The Duchess of Malfi, all that stuff.
     We who are afraid to feel have to make ourselves feel more intensely if we are to feel anything at all. I am just now thinking that that should be overcome. The opposite of "I love you" is not "I hate you," but "I'm seeing someone." Well guess what?



three fictions