The Duck or the Decorated Shed

The summer I lived in Baltimore I waded through lengths of humid air to get to the places I wanted to be. I remember your pointy hips. We walked to the liquor store with the bars on the windows and bought flask-shaped bottles of electric-blue fortified wine. We went to the Safeway to buy condoms but could only find the weird ribbed kind and left to check the neighboring Sunoco instead. The gas station attendant was hidden behind thick bulletproof glass. 

I worked on my thesis as though I actually cared about it. In reality, I imagined myself caring and that was just as good as actually giving a fuck. I read a story about Las Vegas in a thin, academic book and felt as though I’d accomplished something. 

We took a road trip to Richmond for the Fourth of July, stopping at your parents’ house in NOVA for a shower. Your gray cat was not pleased to see me again. I wore an electric green button-up shirt, “Like something Kate Pierson from the B52s would wear,” you said. The sleeves were wide and short and the neck was high. It was avant-garde, or so I’d thought when I'd purchased it at the Bard College flee market; students selling ill-fitting clothing to the next generation to ward off the soon-coming squalor of post-grad life in Brooklyn or Bed-Stuy. When I became a senior the next year I sold off some too short shorts and a dress I’d bought at Goodwill that never quite fit anyway. 

I walked through senior week in a stupor, remembering that you’d be there soon with hot skin and pale eyes. I saw my ex under a super moon and walked back with him to my house. We had short conversations and I laughed in the dark. He had a new girlfriend with pretty dark hair and an eating disorder. I said you didn’t treat me very nicely with sly eyes. We did not sleep together, but slept in the same bed. In the morning I watched last night’s episode of the Daily Show and made a tuna fish sandwich, screaming inside.

I said goodbye to the valley in the next few days and felt the dew of grass on my fingertips. The sky was as blue as ever and the train still whistled low and hungry in the distance.


Nicki never thought she'd live in Virginia, but likes it quite a bit anyway. She has a really cute dog, and a blog she's trying to update more frequently: