I was staring at the professor and as he lectured his beard started to grow and grow until it was flowing over the table and onto the floor and didn’t stop until it reached where I sat at the back of class. Then I noticed that the ceiling was about to fall—I wasn’t worried because I knew when it did it would just pass through us. And it did. And now I am here: in a different reality that’s identical to the previous. One reality ends and another picks up where it left off, just like that. We keep going, just like that.
I saw two boys on the train who were the same person and I was the only one who knew it. One was gross and the other was evil. I had been reading Frank O’hara before boarding—though I did not have my glasses—and by that point my eyes had swam back into my head so I did not get a good look at either. Not that I wanted to. You should never make eye contact with boys on the train.
One was on the upper level, the other I saw as I was getting off. They never saw each other. Somehow, they were connected. Partners in crime. Possibly in another dimension. I also saw a ghost on the train, in the seat across from me. I thought it was my future husband, time travelling. Then he took my brain and I fell asleep. He’d meant to erase my memory of him—a non-human, I mean—but either changed his mind or did a sloppy job.
Never start your day without coffee.
Chris was the only one who brought something to share at the potluck. Caesar salad, enough to go ‘round twice. I looked to see how the others would react.
There was silence, then Katie laughed and walked to the sink, where she started washing a handful of berries. Lori smiled softly at Chris, but lowered her head and walked past him. She had an apple.
I was angry, but I didn’t want to be first—I liked Chris, but I had only been there a month.
Denise was the one who went in the end. She was manager after all. I wondered how many times this had happened before. Poor Chris—he must have thought it was a clever plan.
Denise tasted one leaf and said, “Quite fresh.”
Chris should have taken the compliment. He should have smiled. Instead he took his salad and left the room.
“He has no manners,” a woman who I recognized as a fourth-floorer said.
Katie looked at the woman, then at the bagel she held in her hands. The woman noticed Katie staring and two red blotches appeared on her cheeks.
“We had—I went to buy—but—”
“Here,” said Katie, offering the woman a single berry.
The woman froze, horrified. Katie pulled her hand back and popped the berry into her mouth.
“You couldn’t have thought I was serious.”
The woman laughed. It was a harsh sound, much too loud for the room.
“A bagel is still better than salad,” someone said—I did not see who.
“And it’s not like you brought it to share.”
Everyone laughed. I excused myself.
Lori stood in the hall. She smiled when she saw me.
“Banana. Good choice.”
“Only fruit I could afford.”
I liked Lori. I could be honest with her.
“If only Chris was as smart as you,” she said. “Quantity? I’m disappointed, really.”
“I’ve never heard of sharing at a potluck,” I added.
“Oh that’s more common than you’d think. They do it all the time on ground floors. That way they get to try a little bit of everything.”
“Bananas and berries. I’m scared to see what they’ve got on the tenth floor.”
We both smiled at that.
The door to the room opened, but we did not hear laughter. We did not hear conversation. There was only the faint sound of water, as each person washed their fruits, to be displayed and envied, then finally eaten, with great dread.
This morning I woke up and saw a silver coin in the sky—I closed my eyes because I knew coins weren’t meant to levitate—it could fall at any moment—I did not want to be blinded—I had a friend who I saw all the time and—the more you see someone the more familiar they become—she became stranger and stranger. I couldn’t recognize her with her new eyebrows—I was scared—I never talked to her again. You should never make your PowerPoint background white is what I’m trying to say.
A seagull appeared in a field. Its head bobbed through the green as it walked. It stared for a moment at the people, then became uninterested.
When it finally flew it was majestic, wings sweeping the air in broad strokes.
The people smiled their radiant smiles. One man’s cheek was peeling. There were lumps on another’s neck. Something black rested on a woman’s unblinking eye.
They would continue to stare at the highway, which had long been overgrown by weeds.
The seagull would not return.