The music on TV turned gloomy. Sharks, she said, and sure enough. A blunt snout, jumbled cemetery of teeth, and quick black depthless eye thrashed the screen. Coffee and oranges made the morning acidic. She said, the cello is the instrument of the inevitable. White clouds of jasmine devoured a trellis. He said, no, the cello is an instrument of caution. And with that they splashed overboard into the swells and chop and chum and his lust for control took dominion everywhere, like a shark, like he fucked, always either much too much or nothing at all. He said he'd make her a deal. If she could face the mirror a hundred mornings straight and say out loud she wanted one and mean it she could have a child. That wasn't bad enough. Six days later he came off in her without a condom. And wanted to hug and cry about it. Brought a warm washcloth. Said she'd misunderstood. Was this fate or warning? Punishment or praise? She didn't even ask; she understood he didn't understand the difference. She idled in the Rite Aid parking lot, adding the omen of the stiff kitten near the dumpster to the omen of the goth girl flashing past on her skateboard with a bright pink bubble perched in her mouth. Called it a draw. Tore up the prescription and drove home to coffee, oranges, the inevitable cello. A hundred mornings and no telling on which the shark will or won't rip her open, turn the bitter pith and grounds of her insides out. The music might warn her but the shark never will. She's gone. She's here.
"Coffee and Oranges" from And So © by Joel Brouwer, 2009. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.