Friday, October 7, 2016


As the black lacquer glistened on the brush and then on his nails, she thought about just how much fantastic this guy was. Strips of his black hair that fell way past his shoulders were highlighted dark green. He must have meant it to be peacock feather. Or just an ugly crocodile green butterfly. There was no telling with this extraordinary person. Presently, he squinted at the sun, nodding this way and then that way, as if trying to look for something interesting in the sky. Then he sneezed. The brush slipped.

“Hold still,” I told him.

He looked down at his hand and at the stroke that’d gone astray. “Look,” he said. “It looks like a Spiny Lumpsucker.”

“What’s a Spiny Lumbsucker?” I asked.

He looked at me with those gray eyes – yes his eyes really were in the middle of black and brown – like he wanted to make sure I wasn’t being funny.

“Well it’s a fish,” he said.

“Oh.” I picked up a cotton bud, dipped it in the bottle of nail varnish remover and rubbed away at his finger. There was no way the mark looked like a fish. I thought it looked like what it exactly was – a mistaken stroke of nail polish.

As I continued to paint his nails, he asked, “Are you going to coat it with transparent polish afterwards?”

“Do you want me to?” I had no idea where his knowledge in manicure came from.

“Maybe not,” he decided. “I like it when the paint vanishes on the tips.”


On Friday, he brought me roses. They were a soft punch pink. I thanked him and emptied a vase but he insisted on putting them in a glass bottle. I said we didn’t have one.

“What about the wine bottle from last time?” he asked.

“We haven’t finished the wine yet,” I answered.

“We can fix that.”

He poured the left over wine in the kitchen sink.

“Things become stale,” was his justification.

  You’d think he would leave the flowers at that, but oh no. He had to pluck all the petals and then boil them in a frying pan.

“I’m making you something,” he said when I asked what on earth he was doing.

Eyebrows raised, I waited.

A few minutes later, he handed me a tiny china full of light pink rose water. DIY. Indeed. My eyebrows wouldn’t go back down.

We said goodbye a week later because he wouldn’t stop calling me just to say hi. Yes, even when I was in the office and attending an important meeting or whatever. (“One needs only to say hello.”) Also, he’d knit ugly yellow scarves for me. I knew that he knew not to knit ugly yellow scarves. He’d made a lovely maroon hat for a neighbor’s cat. So why was I getting ugly yellow scarves? He didn’t have the taste for beauty, not very much.

We said goodbye and he just blinked those gray eyes and smiled. I think I was too bland for his liking, far too normal for an insane peculiar person.    

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From "Die Mitte der Welt"

It's one of those hot, sky-blue days that taste of vanilla ice cream and summer and future, when your heart beats faster for no apparent reason, and when you're prepared to swear any oath that friendships never end.

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