I spend all my time crying into instant white rice. I read articles about war and infidelity to distract me from the mountain of dirty dishes and the deadbolt that needs replaced. And elephants that get shot for sport. And hungry kids without homes or stuffed animals.
I cry as I listen to songs I used to dance to with my friends. My friends. They’re all scattered across the country now, all adulting in their own respective ways. Bussing tables at Italian restaurants, herding goat farms, disputing insurance claims, stocking shelves at grocery stores, looking at teeth with various magnifying glasses, dancing for rich men on small tables. Some are surfing their parents’ couches, refreshing Indeed for entry-level job opportunities, while others are engaged with babies and mortgages and 401Ks. I don’t know what a 401K actually is. I just nod my head when people talk about it and act upset or bewildered. I pretend we’re all still young and stupid, still sitting criss-cross apple sauce in someone’s poorly lit dorm room, drinking out of the Dick Chalice and arguing about the rotation of the moon. I want to sneak away to lay down in the labyrinth and smoke until my lungs hurt. I miss my friends. I miss sharing food with them. I don’t share anything with anyone anymore. Nobody wants to share, and I’m too much of a coward to ask.
I flinch at my own shadow. I’m shocked when I accidentally see my own face in reflections. I think: who is that? And then, I remember. It’s me. I’m starting to forget what they look like. My friends. The uncensored version of them. The ones without filters. There are censors everywhere now, not just on overpriced jeans and alcohol. I think about ladybugs and running through the sprinkler in a rainbow one-piece, and cry.
The last time I got a sunburn was when I held Ollie’s spot in a marathon-long line for this special hotdog. There were like thirty people ahead of us and he had to piss. I forgot sunblock. People were so excited about the hotdog; they were practically foaming at the mouth. But I couldn’t relate. I had just become a pollotarian. I saw sad, fat pigs everywhere and had nightmares about talking bacon. I cried when Ollie bit into his hotdog. I cried when he laughed, when he said it was the best hotdog he ever had. I wanted to taste it, but I had just pledged to be a pollotarian. I couldn’t cheat on day 3 or kiss Ollie afterwards either. I didn’t want secondhand bacon. Or his leftover grease. Or him. I didn’t want him. Ollie kept trying to kiss me anyway.
That night, I looked into getting a nose job, just to remind myself that it was something I could do if I wanted to. There are before and after pictures all over the internet of people’s noses. Some procedures are covered by insurance. Others aren’t. Depends on your story, I guess. I cry when I realize mine wouldn’t be covered, medically, unless someone broke my nose. I ask Ollie if he’ll break it for me. He says, “No.”
When my grandma finally learns how to operate FaceTime, I cry. I cry when I hear her voice, and I cry when I see her tiny, pixilated face. It takes her two days and one of her nurses to answer my calls. She says I look like an alien and wants to know when my head got so big.
Ollie rubs my back as I cry during the animal cruelty commercials. I don’t understand how someone could be such a dick to animals. Or how someone could make a commercial about someone being a dick to animals. I cry because everyone is probably a dick.
I cry when Ollie leaves for work. He tells me I should be happy he has a job, but all I can think about is something happening to him out there—car accident, robbery, gunshot, time portal—and him not coming home. I take my instant white rice out of the microwave and burn my hand on the plastic. I cry. I want to call my friends. I want to make sure they remember me.
I have an appointment with a foot doctor tomorrow because Ollie thinks some of my nerves burned off when we went to that hot tub party in Astoria. They probably poured in the wrong chemicals or put them in the wrong slot or something. Ollie’s feet are fine though. I have to trust him because he’s studying to be a surgeon. He has medical genes. His brain produces dopamine.
When I got laid off in December, I laughed, and then I cried, and then I laughed some more. I don’t know how to be 25. I want to be 18. Aging is stupid. Getting old is stupid. Finding gray hair is a joke. We’re in a simulation anyway.
I’m not going to the grocery store ever again. Everyone here is a fraud with fake teeth. Their shopping carts are full of lies. Lies. I make this declaration at noon, when I’m already drunk. I fill my cart with bacon because no one at the grocery store knows I’m a pollotarian. When I get home, I eat a huge buffet-style plate of bacon and eggs. And it’s ok. Nobody knows about it because I’m alone. I’m always alone. When I finish the 2lb pack of bacon, I cry into my instant white rice until I’m full.
Gabrielle McAree is from Fishers, IN. She studied Theatre and Writing at Long Island University Post. Her work is forthcoming at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Two Fingers Lit, and Unstamatic. She's on Twitter @gmcaree_