Could you please pick up a few things for me while you’re at the grocery store? They are vital to my survival. I’m not exaggerating. You always think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I swear. It’s like my skin is on fire and no one can see it except me. I wouldn’t lie to you. At least not about this.
There was that one time I told you I was taking a dump but I was actually examining this picture of a golden retriever named Lucy with a slice of ham laid over her face. It had been one of those Internet pranks. The man who started it posted the photo of his ham-faced dog and claimed she had saved his family in a fire. The post claimed that every share on Facebook donated a dollar towards the vet bills to repair Lucy’s face. He’d wanted to demonstrate the absurdity of the Internet. I first discovered it because my mother shared the post with an eight sentence caption about Lucy’s courage. She took it very seriously. When I’d informed her that it was a joke, she’d stopped talking to me for a week, told me that I was unnecessarily cruel.
What’s weird is, even though I knew the photo was a joke, I couldn’t look away.
You even texted me from the living room to ask if I was okay, if I’d climbed out the window to join the gang of feral cats who hung out in our graffitied alley. Instead of handing people mandalas, hypnotists should instruct their clients to stare at a photo of Ham-dog. That kind of image changes you. It disrupts the very notion of what it means to be a human in a world in which people actually think that’s a positive thing.
But anyway, I wouldn’t lie to you. Not about this. I need a few things. It’s the difference between want and need. I want one of those Zoodle makers. I need some relief. Hopefully it’s not too much to ask.
Some of that new, probiotic, farm-raised, self-esteem. Nothing too extravagant. I know it can be kind of pricey and it’s already expensive enough to be alive, but the processed kind just isn’t cutting it. There are all these strange side effects, like nightmares in which you stab me and I don’t even die. Sometimes acquaintances ask what my interests are and the only things I can think to say are Ham-dog and the bird rights activist Twitter account that tweets stuff like, “if u cant hamdle me at my bird ya dont derserve me at my birb.” I know, I know.
Some communicable spices. Preferably not so spicy that I’ll terrify my grandmother when I speak to her but flavorful enough to keep her talking to me for more than five minutes. Whenever I shout into a tin can, the string between she and I gets tangled. I’m sick of eating beans, sick of wasting my breath. My grandmother needs affection that I haven’t been able to provide.
Herbs or tea or affirmations for the cravings, for the replacing love with drink. If you don’t text me while I’m on the toilet, I start to get crazy ideas. I fantasize about pouring vodka on my wildfire skin, just for the thrill. I hate the urgency of my lips against the glass. I am only part human. When I was 12 years-old, I was bitten by a mercurial myth and I’ve been licking my wounds ever since.
If they have any of those hip, superfruit microscopes, that’d be spectacular. You know how comforting it can be for me to play under a watchful eye. That way you can witness me replicate and divide. I think one day I’ll split and split and split and split until we’ve got a house full of daughters (and nowhere to store my nucleus). We can teach our daughters how to whisper to their hearts. We can teach them how to ask for what they need and not feel ashamed for it.
If you can’t find everything, don’t worry about it. We’ll do what we always do: unload the groceries, fall into each other, and take bites out of the moon.
Marisa Crane is a lesbian fiction writer and poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Riggwelter Press, The Zodiac Review, Pidgeonholes, among others. She currently lives in San Diego with her fiancée. Website: marisacrane.org Twitter: @marisabcrane.