Like Possums in the Sun

Tom Laplaige

I’m a breakfast person, she says, smelling like syrup.

What’s a pancake, even? he says. I don’t trust circles. Circles are what happens to a center when it gets infected with self-regard. A center was unsatisfied and then there was a circle.

Should we order more bacon? she says. I will order more bacon.

Let’s order bacon to storm the border. Take no prisoners, pigs! There’s no such thing as children, anymore! There are only infidels! New swine protocol, he says, between sips of black coffee.

Your mother said you like to look at the ocean.

I don't just like to look at the ocean like some dope. I enjoy witnessing the devouring will of nature. Waves are like the whispers of a methodical assassin. Have you ever seen a sandpiper parry with the tide?

I don’t think so but we could go to the beach sometime, she says. I could pack a picnic for us. I have a car.

We could go to the beach and get sand in our hair rolling about? Tangle our bodies and say oh baby, oh baby? Here comes the jelly wagon.

She blushes behind a muffin. Yes, we can use our tongues and sniff each other like possums in the sun.

Like possums in the sun?

Mmmhmm. You should try this marmalade, she says, offering a piece of marmalade toast. They use the whole orange. The rind and everything.

No evidence. The perfect crime, he says.

It’s good, right? Do you have breakfast often? she says.

My mother makes me breakfast. She boils me eggs. On Mondays I swallow them whole. On Tuesdays I bite into them with a heart full of vengeance. On Wednesdays I squeeze them through the tines of my fork, he says. On Thursdays--

So you like eggs? I could order us some eggs, she says. I’ll order us some eggs. They make an omelet called Rhonda’s Aorta. It's got hash browns, cracklins, scallions, habaneros, cheddar, swiss, gruyere, smoked oysters, black garlic, kelp, herbs de Provence, baby teeth, white gravy...

Baby teeth? He says.

You’re listening, she says, crunching wheat toast. I like that.

Who’s Rhonda? he asks.

That’s a painting of her on the wall behind you.

She looks depressed. And there’s a large goiter on her neck. Why would anyone want to look at that while they eat?

I’m not a psychologist, she says. I dig graves at the graveyard.

Don’t they have machines for that?

Yes, but not where I work. To learn to love something ugly. Maybe that’s why Rhonda, she says after swallowing a full glass of water.

We do things the old-fashioned way at the graveyard, she continues. And they’d have to pay someone to operate the machine anyway. Repairs. Maintenance. We don’t get a lot of dead bodies. The cemetery is is right next to the waste treatment plant and it smells like--

Infinity poos, he interrupts.

No, eggs, but the dead can’t complain and it’s good exercise. Keeps my metabolism tick tock. I don’t understand why anyone would pay to go to a gym. Dig a hole, she says, flexing her trapezius muscles.

They go to look at themselves in the mirror, drink water out of little cups, smell each other’s sweat. Lapping up the pheromone air.

I saw Jesus in a pit stain once, she says.

On the cross? he says.

No. At a bus station.

Jesus was at a bus station?

No. The pit stain. Jesus was under a tall woman’s armpit, on a silky blouse. Lilac and sleeveless, she says. Are you still eating your brûléed grapefruit?

I don’t like when people look at me, he yells.

I’m sorry, she says.

Not you. The waitress. She keeps eyeing over here. And tittering with her little friend, he yells.

Maybe they think you’re handsome too. Hey, unclench your fists. Just focus on me. Breathe. How do you feel about straws?

She gently reaches, then eases his eyeglasses off of his face.

I feel like if I was armless, they’d be essential, he says.

Tell me more, she says, polishing thick lenses with her napkin.

One day we’ll all be mouthless and have nutrients piped in through our guts. Mouths aren’t a long term solution.

How far away is one day?

Relatively far but–

But until then?

We’ll have mouths, he says.

Wonderful. Wouldn’t you miss the taste of it all? Chewing centers me, I swear, she says.

I read that our jaws are powerful enough to bite right through a finger but our brains would never let us.

Space is a mouth with nothing in it, she says, returning the glasses to his face.

Holes are for filling, he says.

God yes, she says, blushing. All clear.

He buries his head in his plate, pulls it back up, yolk boats down his cheeks. She puts her hand on his.

I don’t make you uncomfortable, he says.

No, she says, spooning blueberries up from parfait.

I make people uncomfortable, my Mother says, he says.

I’m not people. I’m a breakfast person, she says.