It was Extraordinarily Human

by Emily LAWTON
 

I walked in and there they were, exactly as I’d left them: sitting on the couch, watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It was an all-day marathon. I slammed the door a little too hard. “Hi!” Cat sang at me. I looked in, giving a wave to her and her slouchy boyfriend. He raised his eyes just slightly, enough to acknowledge my presence, then refocused on the television. Apparently they hadn’t moved in the six hours since I’d left. The windows were closed and the curtains drawn. The whole apartment was smoky, and two cigarettes burned in a glass ashtray.

I went in my room and shut the door. “There’s food!” Cat yelled. I softened a little, though I rarely wanted to indulge in her odd gastronomic experiments (mashed potatoes with wasabi peas, for instance). From the tv, a family screamed as their new home was revealed. Breathing seemed inordinately difficult, with the smoke and another indefinite musty scent that I imagined to be their horrible, thrashy sex. The night was below freezing, but I opened all the windows anyway. Cold fresh air blew in and I climbed into bed. Shivering and hiding my head, I dreamt some comfort far away.

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