This is a story about cookies. That’s all you’re getting out of me. Enjoy.
A woman, devoid of clothing, stepped onto the hard parquet of her solitary apartment and craved one last cigarette before turning in for the night. But she was out, and it was dark and cold and she was still without clothing and to walk to the convenience store at that hour of the night would be nothing less than suicide. So she sustained herself on a memory of repugnant fumes, known to stop her lungs but what did her lungs ever do for her anyway? Her lungs did not pay the rent, long overdue, and they did not pay for the hypoallergenic body wash she had to use or the so-called meat defrosting in the kitchen sink. She did not think my lungs pay for the fumes I inhale every day and slowly kill myself on. She did not think like that. She thought that you did things to things and things did not do things in return. Often she had seen a morality play of cigarettes and liquor but never had she been struck by one. Her soul was yet unvarnished by the thing called a conscience.
Not to say she lacked one, of course, but to say that she did not use one when it came to her consumption of cigarettes; or, anything else for that matter, it is well to note as she shuffled the porcelain cat on her hallway desk and from within withdrew a vial of whiskey. She made a pretense of hiding it, even though there was no one there—ever—to say to her, well, Sally, you shouldn’t be drinking that, you’ve been in AA for four years and oh my we all fear for you and we just want you to be happy but this isn’t being happy this is destroying yourself why oh why must you be a slave to your drives you know the doctors, all the fancy doctors with the fancy hats and degrees, they say—
She didn’t care what they said. The oblivion of the sweet brown amber filled her with the poison of indifference. She walked from the hallway to the living room with that indifference, with the firm intention of going to her room and putting on her pajamas and from there letting sleep take her away. To get to her room she had to pass by the couch, the green couch, the ugliest couch in the world, the couch where her first child was to be born if not the vagaries of fate had replaced it with a calico cat instead. The calico cat sat upright and dignified, staring at Anderson Cooper’s magnificent eyes. The cat seemed to achieve an almost sexual pleasure from viewing the screen, an enjoyment much unlike Sally’s own. The oblivion of sweet brown poison filled her with the amber of indifference. She did not feel much pleasure anymore, only numbness. Numbness for her was a type of pleasure. It was being able to ram a fork into her hand and remove it without any pain and watch as the blood ran off and with it a miniscule serving of her loneliness—but every little bit helped. The little bits were what kept her sane.
“What you doing? Enjoying Anderson Cooper, are we?” she asked the cat, not expecting it to answer. And it didn’t. But a second later it turned and said to her, “I’m hungry. Will you get me some cookies? I left them on the counter.” Her cat had never spoken to her before. First she thought of the whiskey, that perhaps she had drank too much and that she was slowly losing her mind—it would not have been the first time—and she dismissed that idea almost as soon as it had come along and she replaced it with the idea that she herself was sick and tired and hungry and cats can’t talk and on top of that what sort of cat needs a cookie?
“Excuse me?” she asked, wondering aloud more to herself than to the thing. The cat repeated itself and stared her down. She did not know what to do. She thought momentarily of calling her mother on her outdated cellphone (her landline had long since been cut off) but she thought better of it, because that had not been her first swig of the drink that evening nor would it be her last and she had already started slurring and she did not want her poor mother to hear her, nor did she want to hear the heartbreak in her poor mother’s voice. So she did not call, and instead walked away from the nightmare-inducer and found herself in the shabby kitchen of her shabby apartment in the shabbiest complex in town. The only good thing about the room was that it had a window, and the window lit up like an altar the tiny amount of counter-space she had. On this altar of food there was the most delectable plate of chocolate-chip cookies she had ever seen, beckoning to her with their aroma. She knew they were the cat’s and that the cat might strike her down if she ate one but she could not help it—the oblivion of the sweet brown amber filled her with the poison of indifference. She no longer gave a damn if the cat did anything to her. She just wanted a cookie. The craving filled her and made her ache to her bones. Her stomach was wet with anticipation. She looked around first to see and make sure no one was there to judge her, and she began to pick it up.
She was stopped by the paralyzing sound of sirens outside. Somewhere something had happened. She moved to the window and turned her back momentarily to the cookies. She peeked through the blinds and saw in the icy evening the taillights of a red and white ambulance whizzing by, the universal noise of the klaxon buzzing in the background. She could not definitively say what had happened, but she sensed a dark change in the fabric of reality; and as she spun around her intuition was confirmed by the absence of her one true love. The cookies had vanished. She was lost.
Thanks to Gabi, Kade, and Kacy (who is brand new to the blogging world and needs as much love as possible) for reviewing my story for me so I didn’t end up sharing it with the world and then realising it sucked. Because that, in itself, would suck.