Pair with Why Does It Always Rain on Me? by Travis
Things happen to Bonnie Boohoo and they are not her fault. People let her down, people set her up, she gives too much, and people repay too little. No, she doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her, she just wants you to understand how much she is up against. In many ways this predicament of hers is wonderful. It lets her wear magic glasses that tilts the perspective to victim and leaves out any disadvantageous reflection on her. And she doesn’t have to lift a finger. She can just sit and wait for her woeful expectations to be met.
Imagine the evilest queen. High cheekbones and nails like daggers. Meaner than a scorpion in a basket of puppies, more shameless than a hungry alligator spotting a toddler. She has neither empathy nor sympathy. She wants to hurt and add injury to insult. She can smell fear. She feeds off pain and low self-worth. She bullies, belittles, and berates. She is as loud as she is loathing. She slips in through my cracks of hesitation and doubt. I know the best would be to smother her in love, but most days, I can only try to stand up to her.
There is a middle-aged woman in my head. Her name is Stacey Stay, and she works at the post office. She is tired, skeptical, and disillusioned. All she wants me to do is the bare minimum. Stacey only watches TV series from the nineties because why try something new? Every time I have a good idea, she rattles off a hundred reasons why it won’t work. Many of them sound so credible they can’t be argued with. It has taken me a long time to understand that her list of no-good reasons is like her, no good for me.
There once was an ending named Bryce that got stuck in a turnstile in the subway. Other endings, some happy, most not, and many beginnings piled up behind him while Bryce fumbled around with his MetroCard to get it to work. It was one of those days, probably a Tuesday, when everyone had rolled out of bed at the last minute and was late to wherever they were going. Bryce himself was on his way into work as a marriage counselor. Lately, new clients had been hard to come by because of his less than stellar track record.
When Kayleigh was a piglet, she had a pet fish called Marvin. One day Marvin was no more. Either he had disintegrated from old age, or one of Kayleigh’s family members had eaten him. Marvin’s passing made Kayleigh sad for a while.
“Kayleigh is blue,” her mother said to everyone at all times.
That did not make Kayleigh feel better. She knew in her heart she was pink but spent the rest of her piglethood squeezing her eyes and grinding her teeth to turn blue to live up to her mother’s expectations. Because that is what piglets want to do.
She watches in horror as he goes down on one knee and opens a box with a massive diamond ring. She closes her eyes and notices how all conversation in the restaurant has died.
“Bonnie, will you marry me?” he says, his voice thick with emotion.
No, no, no, she screams in her head. This was not how it was supposed to go. All her complaining about his commitment issues, his not being romantic, and his stinginess was not to get him to propose. It was to justify her leaving.
“Yes,” she sighs and resigns herself to another six months.
The shark smells the cut on her thigh from far away. The scent is coconut sunscreen and fresh blood. She treads water in between the sandbars where it likes to hide. She wears a bright orange bathing suit against her white skin, but it doesn’t see her until it is close by, summoned by her flailing arms. It is after hours. The sound of kids playing with pails and shovels has been replaced with shrieking seabirds who keep diving around her to see if the shark has done its trick. And yet, she doesn’t move. It is almost too easy.
“Brian Chester Tibbs, do you take Melinda Karen Carrolls to be your wife?” asks the officiator.
“Well, what happened was,” says Brian with an apologetic smile, “I couldn’t get the Honda to start, not the Ford, the Ford always starts, but my mate had it that Tuesday because he was gonna move some furniture out of his Mom’s and the sectional couldn’t fit so I said he could borrow mine, but then he was half-way to Springfield when he got a flat and I’d already used the spare back in September, so now he was up the creek, wasn’t he?”
Camilla, a millennial tiger shark, felt unfairly stigmatized by the negative reputation of her species. She thought that people did not take the time to get to know her because they made all kinds of assumptions about her being a macropredator and a garbage eater. Granted, that was how she was raised, but in college, Camilla had dabbled both in bi-veganism and the occasional romantic submission to a killer whale called Henry from the Zeta-Jones fraternity. She just didn’t like to be pigeon-holed on her genus alone, although pigeons were yummy with a sprig of rosemary and some sea salt.
There once was a teenager that kept rolling its eyes at its parents. It rolled them at how its father dressed. It rolled them at the music its mother listened to. It especially rolled them at dinner choices that were not pasta or fried, invitations to do things that were not streaming video content in its room, and comments about Billie Eilish’s new look. Being inflicted with two Gen-X parents, the teenager had ample opportunity for eyes-rolling. It got so good at it that one day the eyes stuck back there. Really stuck. Forever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Regitze Ladekarl crafts universal tales from everyday lives with an honest and sharp pen.