Artie

Artie places a thick slice of coconut cream pie on a plate decorated with periwinkle flowers.  The fan turns lazily over the linoleum, clicking each time it makes a full rotation.  The heat of the noontime kitchen is thick and wet, and if she doesn’t eat this pie soon, the peaks of meringue will congeal into a yellowish gel flecked with coconut straws.

Ed has been talking nonstop for the last hour, droning on and on about the closing of the plant.  Thankfully, she has detached herself from the hammering of his voice, and as she sidles back to the table with her plate of pie, she imagines herself riding around and around on that fan.  His voice comes to her in wavy vibrations as she rounds the side of the refrigerator, up over the microwave, back down the side of the stove, and around again.  Click!  Like a barker at an auction, Ed drags one word into the next, but from this new vantage point, Artie is mesmerized by the dead geranium over the aluminum sink.

She snaps back as she forks pie through her bared teeth, Ed’s voice settling on her like more weight than this chair can handle, poised on four wooden legs, with one just slightly shorter than the others.

“Are you listening to me, Artie?”  His voice peels away from his throat like the rind off an orange, and she eyes him over a forkful of gelatinous and cranky pie-end.  “I hear, I hear…”  She nods with her eyes closed, clamping her teeth around the fork, letting it slide seductively across her lips, for effect only, on the way out.

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