Potluck

 

T H I S    W E E K

WATERSLIDES IN AUXILIARY HOSPITAL WASHROOM by Daniel Thompson

 

Morning Sickness // With Bases Loaded, I Pitch My Wedding Ring Into an Empty Cap

Morning Sickness

 

I must be getting my period, because everything is louder and more shrill than it should be. The carrots blare against the thin metal shredder, and I can’t hear NPR. Just this: YOU’RE LISTENING TO MORNING EDITION. My uterus groans, strangling me. Like yesterday, but worse. And now, it’s still morning and the bland tile floor is still cold, and I still think, over and over again, I must be getting my period. She is wrong: the carrots don’t help. Halwa is a traditional Indian dessert with sugar and raisins and saffron and cardamom and milk and pistachio and, yes, lots of grated carrots, all cooked together. My mother taught me. I eat halwa when I’m empty. But never like this. And fuck, if I hear ‘LOVE, WHAT MAKES A SUBARU A SUBARU’ one more time... The ghee crackles in the cast-iron frying pan, deep and black. As they interview a man from Baghdad, I cough, how fucking American. Then, more carrots on metal. More muted news voices. I wince, pull finger back. Too close to shredder. I hold up the finger. Just nicked it. I wrap myself in a Band-Aid anyway. I empty the bowl of carrot and spice into the pan. It cries out. I lower the flame, and the simmer becomes silent steam. I drop to the floor, sit cross-legged. My feet are bare and I feel feverish. The heat is so low I don’t stir. I add some two-percent milk. Blowing the embers of orange heat, I eat the calm slowly and read a glossy brochure about IUDs. I can’t keep doing this. One spoon at a time, until it’s gone. I can’t. And then I go for more. The sacred dish is supposed to purify the body, rid it of evil spirits. My mother is an ocean away. I wish she were here. He texts. Desperate, and bursting with holy carrot and cardamom, I look away. The screen is cracked. My fingers are pink. Stray scabs of orange cling to me. Everything goes unanswered. And then, the radio: LOVE, WHAT MAKES A SUBARU A SUBARU.


***

With Bases Loaded, I Pitch My Wedding Ring Into An Empty Cap


After a fifth inning piss, I think, I left my flask on the top of the urinal. The fucking wife was supposed to meet me. Talk about the kids. We had season tickets. She never showed. Me and an empty seat 141D. The flask was silver. Some one must have took it. Another thing gone. I waited in line at the concessions and paid credit. The dogs spun in slow motion under the lamps. I relished the ketchup, first one with diced onions, the second an ugly marriage of barbecue and hot sauce, each was 4.99 plus tax, and slid down in the loud air, noisy people in jerseys with numbers on them, some blue and some white, I swallowed, greasy lips on a plastic cup of Bud Light Lime, and went back for a second round, then third, and in the bathroom, found a fourth, full on the counter by the sink, I didn’t look back, the flask had our initials on the side, and I’d never lost it before, maybe because I’ve never been to a professional baseball game before, never thrown up in the alley after, until now, now I have, I left after the seventh, that’s when I remember the sunflower seeds on the stairs, ensconced in shadows, and then, I splattered my painting on the biff outside Gate B, and kept going, staggering, and then regaining myself, until after a block or two, I tripped on the extended leg man of the man against the granite wall of, looking up, Starbucks, with twin batteries in one hand, rolling one over the other, clink, clink, and a cardboard sign in the other hand that says, If they win, pls help. God bless, I ask him, Did, did they win? and then heavy-eyed, stupid-faced, the madness of his advertisement spat on me, and my lips crawled into a dumb smile, you fucking idiot, of course someone will win, and the frazzled beard and torchlight eyes push me back, everything spinning a little for me, and so hands to my knees, I plopped next to him, both of us hunched over, wild-eyed, and the churning continues, lines of the sidewalk blurred, and it got messier as I begin to cry, to sob, from inside the ribs, and up the throat, and burning the eyes in a cool way, I don’t fight it, the numb repression, empty 141D, lost along the street somewhere, flashing orange DO NOT CROSS sign, heaved up, but the tears were few, surface bloating, and I heard the clink clink and it brings me back, and I see what’s next to us, a garbage can, flatulent with fare from dome concessions, and sides of my fucking head like bass drum’s in street-marching band on the home opener, my temples were crashing together, and the cardboard beard man was still rolling it all in the palm of his hand, clink clink, and instinctively I reached for the abandoned popcorn, not from hunger, I had no bodily needs other than to sleep or disappear or undo or wake up from it, but I offered some popped and salted kernels to my partner, and together we watched the legs pass, with one eye on the upturned hat filling slowly with clinking pity.

***

Ryan Loveeachother is an MFA candidate at Georgia College & State University. He writes with one foot on the bass drum, keeping time, BOOM, BOOM, on one and three, til the lights go down and the party ends.