art by Billy Sagulo
by Lydia Waldman
We eat cold macaroni and cheese from the saucepan while the newscaster tells us that the adverbs will go first. First is difficult for her. Each time they cut from the international footage to her rote summary of the crisis, she pauses too long with her teeth against her lower lip. By the fifth time, you can see the bloody spot where she's bitten down in frustration. By the tenth, she's leaving a blank space in her sentences and waving her hands as if to say You know what I mean.
We didn't go to work today. Some people did--they thought it was important to maintain the semblance of normalcy. But this morning Martin saw a couple of kids spray-painting "FUCK" in wobbly red-orange letters on the door of the house across the street, closed the curtains, and went back to bed. Dim blue light filters into the house. We pad around in the matching slippers my mother gave us last Christmas. The television spews out noise: sirens, shouting voices, whirring helicopter blades.
When Martin isn't watching me, I examine his ear, the dark curl of hair that spirals around it. Today is the last day I'll be able to ask him, Do you love me?
My sister calls around noon. It could be the last phone call I ever take. I stay calm because someone has to. I wonder what we'll use the phones for, afterwards. Juggling? They're about the right size.