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"Shoes”
by
Alison Parham

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Jessica Breheny

JON HOLIDAY’S ONE WEEK JOURNEY TO A MILLION!™

I work in a mailroom in an office in a building in a business park on a four lane street with a center divider where there is sometimes a man selling bags of oranges and sometimes a woman selling flowers. I open mail from people ordering copies of Jon Holiday’s One Week Journey to a Million! ™. They send checks folded into letters that come on scented stationery, yellow legal pad, index cards, Christmas cards, paper placemats, napkins. The checks go in a basket and the letters go in the trash. We’re not supposed to stop and read the letters, but I can’t help it.
       I open an envelope with cartoon Santas printed around the border. Inside is a letter on notebook paper that smells like the perfume they sell in bathroom vending machines: “In two weeks I will be evicted. Put out onto the street. With nowhere to go. And no money. But not anymore. Thanks to you. I’m going to be a millionaire! Jon Holiday must be an angel.” The woman’s name is Hillary and she lives in Soledad. Her handwriting is slanted and curvy, perfect like the cursive alphabet that lined the walls of my first grade classroom. I slip her check for 35.98 -- 29.99 plus 5.99 shipping and handling -- into my pants pocket.
       The mailroom has a window that looks out onto a hallway of cubicles. Maureen, our boss, paces in front of the window. She does this all the time. She wears cashmere sweater sets and foundation that smooths out her wrinkles but accentuates them somehow too. She peers through the window at my check basket which is nowhere near as full as Tanya’s or Carrie’s. I smile at her and she walks away.
       I open a letter on pink paper that smells like fermented roses. I start to read the first sentence. There was a fire, and the woman who wrote the letter – her name is Humbelina (I think of Thumbelina who was eaten by a cow and then a wolf, but made it home OK) – lost everything.
       Tanya rolls her chair over. “What’s so interesting?” she asks. She takes the letter and reads: “My apartment it burn down. My son he is in jail. This are the sad things in my lifes. I thank the God for you’re book to help me.” I can taste Tanya’s perfume. She rolls her eyes. “Got English?” she says.
       Tanya and Carrie laugh. They are like mini-Maureens -- made-up, high-heeled, and malled. Just not bosses yet, but they will be one day. They even go shopping sometimes with Maureen, and Tanya told me about how Maureen is obsessed with Larry Donald who works at the corporate office. They went to Victoria’s Secret so Maureen could pick out lingerie just in case he ever returns one of her phone calls.
       Tanya sighs and puts the check in my basket with an exaggerated flick of her hand.

 

The bus is a dollar-fifty, so to save money I walk home past perfect lawns and tangled gardens of palm, sage, rose, birds of paradise. Some people have their sprinklers on and the water makes rainbows in the evening sun. One of the streets curves and is lined with magnolias. Their dead petals form a carpet on the sidewalk.
       In front of our building is a square of sidewalk where my boyfriend Allen wrote, I LOVE YOU FRANCINE when the concrete was wet. I walk on it to get to the stairs. When I put the key in my apartment door I imagine an alternate universe on the other side: a universe where the apartment is clean and Allen has just gotten home from work too and has done something wonderful like ordered a pizza -- the kind of universe I used to live in. But I open the door and everything’s the way it always is. Allen is hyped up on Dayquil and sitting in front of the computer, the apartment smells like garbage and dirty laundry, carelessly left on lights are running up the power bill in the bathroom and bedroom.
       “Hey babe,” he says.
       “Starving,” I say.
       I go to the kitchenette and boil water for macaroni and cheese. There’s no butter, so I add extra milk, and now we’re out of milk.
       I bring Allen a bowl of macaroni and cheese and sit next to him in front of the computer.
       He leans over to the computer and says, “Frannie, listen to this.”
       It’s a mix of Robert Plant singing “baby.” Sometimes he screams it in a falsetto, sometimes he barks it like a threat, sometimes he sings it sweet with the notes of a twelve string guitar. It’s so frenetic I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I want to turn it off, but Allen is looking at me and smiling.
       “It’s for you,” he says. “You’re my baby.”
       I touch his bony cheek. He wasn’t always this skinny. To come down from the Dayquil, he drinks a double dose of Nyquil. He leaves his bowl with hardening macaroni and cheese on the floor. Allen is gradually being taken over by his WorldQuest character, Wuldor. WorldQuest is an online role playing game. Wuldor is a warrior who can kill and heal and fight. He was elected mayor of the Ladriel encampment. The more Allen plays, the thinner he gets. Soon Wuldor will be the biggest and strongest character in the game world, and there will be almost nothing left of Allen.
       When Allen made good money as a programmer for a company that created attendance-monitoring software for schools, I went to community college. I loved everything about college -- studying in the sun on the lawn, the smell of textbooks, the feeling that everything I did led to something else, that school was this unfolding path and every place it went was new. I was going to transfer to UCLA and major in Art History. I wanted to study the Egyptians. I loved how they are so untouchable and unknowable, but how you can still touch them and know them a little. And their stone and paper faces. I loved their faces. But then Allen stopped going to work because Wuldor had raids and campaigns scheduled with other characters, and I got a job at a movie theater, and then a job as a hostess at a diner, and now the job at the mailroom.
       I wash the dishes. Over the water, I can hear “baby – baby – babyyyyy – bab –,” the beeps and crashes of WorldQuest, and Allen muttering, “Shit, no, dude, OK, fuck, gotcha.” Allen’s plan is to build up Wuldor into a class ten character and sell him on eBay. Somebody sold a class nine for fifteen-thousand dollars a couple of years ago.
       I take the garbage out to the bin in the parking lot. The air smells like rotting seaweed. I want to walk the fifteen blocks to the ocean and listen to the water breathing in and out onto the shore, but I am so tired from sitting all day, and my hands are covered in tiny paper cuts. I walk back upstairs to my apartment. I pass a neighbor’s window and smell cooked vegetables, hear the tinny sounds of a symphony on a cheap stereo. I want to go into my neighbor’s living room and fall asleep, but I walk past, into mine. Allen is banging his fist on the computer cart and yelling, “Shit, shit, shit!” I look at the screen. An Alchemist has invaded Wuldor’s encampment and is turning people into gold.
       I drink some Nyquil, turn off all the lights, and go to bed.
       I dream about baby mice. There are so many of them. Pinkies. All in a pile squirming together to keep warm. I am with Allen and he is eating them. I eat one and it is chewy like an eraser, but my teeth chew all the way through, and then I realize I am eating a living thing, but Allen is saying, it’s OK, this is food, and then I feel how warm their skins are, how their little organs are moving and working inside them, and when I wake up I can still feel the rubbery pinkie yielding in my mouth.
       Allen is sleeping. I make coffee. A mockingbird mocks a car alarm outside the kitchen window. A leaf blower hums in a neighbor’s yard. I eat a heel of bread I find in the back of the refrigerator.
           

Carrie and Tanya have the radio on. The only station we’re allowed to listen to is the soft rock station, KOST. This kind of music makes me feel like I’ve been kidnapped by Moonies, which almost happened to me once. These weird-nice people I met at the Santa Monica pier told me about the Reverend Moon and offered to drive me home. I knew what was going on when they started driving the wrong way – toward the airport – and I thought how easy it would be to just go with them, how nice they were, how they were kidnapping me because they really cared about me. But they wanted to chew on me a little too. I could see it in their clenched jaws. When the car stopped at a stop light at the bottom of a freeway exit, I got out and walked, hours, home. It was easy to get away, which makes me think that those people who were kidnapped by Moonies got to the stoplight and stayed in the car on purpose. Because the Moonies were kind of nice, and regular life is difficult.
       The music lulls me. I open envelopes, pull out checks, throw away letters, open envelopes, pull out checks, throw away letters. I don’t even stop to read. The sound of an alto sax makes me feel like my mouth is being filled with down. I want to spit out all the softness and resist, but the music is too insubstantial to get any leverage on it. It’s like trying to fight a satin sheet.
       Maureen calls me into her office. She is staring at the windowsill. Her window looks out onto the street and the center divider. The man is there selling oranges. No one stops to buy any.
       “What do you think these are?” she asks.
       I lean over her. There are little brown bugs zigzagging on the windowsill. “I don’t know,” I say, “maybe termites?” The windowsill is metal. A hand comes out of the drivers side of a mini-van and flips off the man on the center divider.
       “Do you think they’re fleas?” she asks. She chews on the tip of her pink thumbnail.
       “No,” I say.
       “How do you know they’re not fleas?”
       Everyone knows what a flea is just like everyone knows what a fly is and what a cockroach is and what a mouse is. “Fleas are smaller and black and don’t live on windowsills.”
       “But how do you know?”
       Something about the way Maureen looks at me through her goopy mascara makes me feel two dimensional, like I’m being turned into a piece of paper.
       “I had a cat once,” I say. “It had fleas.” His name was Crab, a calico who got lost when my mother and I moved from Culver City to an apartment in the Valley that had a balcony at eye level with the 101 freeway. My mother still lives there and keeps an aviary of finches on the balcony. One dies from the fumes every few months.
       “Do you have them?” Maureen scratches her arms through her cream sweater set. “Did you bring them with you?”
       I don’t know what to say so I tell her you have to have fur to have fleas. I can’t imagine being the kind of person who has never seen a flea. It is like Maureen was raised in a house made of plastic wrap.
        “I called you in here to talk to you about your work,” she says. She sits down on her desk. I sit on a chair, so she’s leaning over me. I feel very small and flea-ridden. I try to put my good employee face on. I nod. I’m ready to tell her that I just don’t get as many checks as Carrie and Tanya, and that really I don’t have fleas, but she says, “It’s your appearance. You need to look more professional when you come to work.” She says “professional” and “work” like she’s introducing the letter “C” to a child. The piece of paper I’m turning into is getting thinner but also more noticeable. I am a problem piece of paper. “You need to brush your hair and look a little neater. And you have … a smell.” She gestures me out of her office. “Take care of it,” she says.
       I get a shock when I touch the doorknob.
       I stand in the hallway of cubicles outside Maureen’s office. People are working on the other sides of the moveable walls. I sneak a sniff of my underarms. I smell a little sweaty.
       I go to the bathroom Jon Holiday shares with a realtor and a collections agency. The bathroom is bright and dim at the same time, and the light flickers. It gives me the same Moonie feeling soft rock does.
       My face is wavy and discolored in the aluminum mirror. I brushed my hair this morning, but it’s so curly no one would ever know it. I’m wearing the nicest clothes I have – a silk shirt from the thrift store and a skirt that used to belong to Allen’s mother.
       My skirt pocket is full of checks. I go into a stall and tear the checks I’ve collected into quarter-sized pieces. I drop them in the toilet. They make little pink, blue, and beige boats. I flush and they swirl into a pastel kaleidoscope. The people who write the saddest letters get their 35.98 back -- almost two bags of groceries depending on where you shop. It’s my gift to them. It’s the least I can do.
       The check pieces swirl for a moment and then the water fills up the bowl all the way to the top. I can still see the writing on a check from Grand Forks. I flush again and water spills out from between the toilet bowl and the seat.
       I hear the bathroom door open and the clip-clop of pumps. I look under the stall door and my hair grazes the fake terra cotta linoleum tile, which is now wet. I recognize Carrie’s red shoes with ribbons that wrap around her ankles. There’s an aerosol hiss and the musky alcohol smell of hair spray.
       “Is that you, Francine?”
       “Uh, huh.”
       “We’re going to Maloney’s. Wanna come with?”
       Maloney’s is across the parking lot. It’s like TGI Friday’s only with an Irish theme. I have a dollar-twenty-nine, but I say I’ll go. I hope the checks will disintegrate by the morning.
       All I had for lunch today was a yogurt and a fibrous orange. At Maloney’s Buddy Holly sings “Peggy Sue.” Carrie orders an Irish burger (with ham) with a side of jalapeno poppers and a peach margarita. Tanya gets Irish fries (with balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise) and a daiquiri. I order a Coke. The waitress is so enthusiastic she seems like she might explode. She smiles at us miserably. I concentrate on Buddy Holly’s gasping syncopated voice. He sounds so desperate.
       When the food comes, I have an urge to growl at Carrie and take a jalapeno popper off her plate. Instead I smile and nod at Tanya who is gossiping about Maureen and Larry Donald who works at the corporate office.
       “She’s really gotta move on,” Tanya says.
       I imagine Maureen in a corset, garter belt, and fishnets waiting for the phone to ring. A hip-hop version of “Danny Boy” mixed with “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is playing.
       “We should take her out,” Carrie says. “Show her a good time.”
       Carrie bites into a jalapeno popper and cheese dribbles down her chin. I think about the pinkies in my dream and stir the ice around in my Coke.
       They don’t finish their meals, but neither offers me any fries or poppers, and then the smiling waitress takes the plates away, and there is no more food.
       “You’d be really pretty if you did something with your hair,” Tanya says to me. “You could get it straightened or permed so it’s not so frizzy.”
       I say, “Thanks.” I like my hair the way it is.
       It’s getting dark when I walk home. I watch people’s lives through TV-lighted windows. The street is lined with living rooms. Sofas match loveseats. Books fill shelves. Knick-knacks decorate mantelpieces. Indoor trees stretch to ceilings. It is like walking through a catalog of alternate universes. I know from the windows how each house would smell if I could walk through the glass and sit down. I hear the chime of dishes being washed, the muffle of voices. I could do this all night, this window shopping for another life.
       When I get home Allen is screaming, “Goddamn fucking shit!” and throwing pieces of paper off the computer cart. They float undramatically to the floor, and I laugh.
       “Don’t laugh at me,” Allen says. “I died. I just totally fucking died.” He points to the computer screen. Wuldor is gold. The other characters are standing around him in mourning. Some are singing a slow song in a minor key, and some are crying. There will be a funeral in the Ladriel encampment at the Hour of the Green Knight – 7PM Eastern time – tomorrow.
       “Oh Allen,” I say. I work sympathy into my voice, but I am so relieved. Maybe he’ll get a job. Maybe we’ll leave the apartment once in a while. We used to go for hikes in the Santa Monica mountains. We used to go to bars, meet friends, shop. I hug him. He is bony and sharp. He leans his head into my shoulder and convulses. I can’t tell if he’s actually crying. He kisses me, a long deep kiss. An alternate life opens up in front of me. We haven’t kissed like this in months.
       But he stops kissing me and says, “I can start again.”
       “No,” I say. “Please.”
       “You think I can’t do it.”
       “I know you can. Of course you can. It’s just that don’t you think you need to get a job now?”
       “You always do that,” he says.
       “I don’t always do anything.”
       “You do, you do, you do!” He raises his voice in a high desperate way, like he might start hyperventilating. “You’re always so concerned about money, you don’t look at the big picture.” He makes big picture hands. “I’m thinking creatively about how to make a living while you’re working in a mailroom doing nothing.”
       He points at me and I want to bite his finger off. I can imagine it yielding like the baby mice in my dream. Instead I throw a piece of paper off his desk. I throw as hard as I can and it catches air and takes forever to land on the brown carpet. It’s that go-nowhere softness again, that way that my life is a padded room.
       I take a walk. People’s curtains are drawn. The early evening catalog is closed. The air is briny. I pass jasmine growing up a cyclone fence and the smell makes me want to run and stay still at the same time. I walk to the boardwalk, past the brick building that was the est headquarters when I was a kid. The stalls that sell silver jewelry and skirts and incense and temporary tattoos are closed. I walk toward the sound of a sitar. Under a street light, a man is playing the sitar surrounded by drummers who can’t keep up with his rhythm. I’ve only seen the instrument in pictures. It’s huge, almost as big as the man playing it. A group of hippies dance. They twirl and do Tai Chi moves. They look like they just poured out of the mouth of the instrument. I don’t know anything about the sitar, but I can tell the musician is good. He doesn’t make the struggling confused frustrated faces people make when they’re learning an instrument. The music just comes out of his hands and the strings. He should be on a stage somewhere playing with drummers who know how to drum, not sitting on the Venice boardwalk in the middle of the night.
       I concentrate on the sitar and try not to hear the drums. The sound of the strings is like scratching an itch and sneezing and drinking a glass of water. I want to sit next to the musician, nest inside the music, but I walk past. This is not my alternate universe.

The more I brush my hair, the more unruly is gets. The static from the brush gives me a raised-by-wolves look. I wear the same skirt I wore yesterday -- nothing else is clean -- but I iron it.
       I stop by the bathroom when I get to work. The check pieces are gone. A janitor must have plunged the toilet. When I get to the mailroom, Carrie and Tanya are standing in the doorway looking down the hall at Maureen’s office.
       “Larry Donald’s here with this weird lady,” Carrie says.
       “Maybe that’s his wife,” Tanya says.
       “Oh, no way,” Carrie says.
       “He’s married?” I ask.
       “She is so not his wife,” Carrie says. “Unless it’s one of those married-her-before-the-accident situations. Besides, she smells.”
       Just like me.
       Maureen’s door opens and she comes out with Larry Donald and the lady. Larry Donald is short and wearing suspenders and a white shirt. He holds his chest out and swings his arms like a dominant simian. The lady is egg-shaped and limps. She is wearing shorts and a blue velour shirt with a picture of Eeyore that says, MOODY.
       “We need to talk to you three,” Maureen says. They come into the mailroom. The lady smells like a ham and cheese sandwich but not the kind you’d want to eat.
       Larry Donald says, “This young lady never got her Jon Holiday’s One Week Journey to a Million! ™.” The lady is not young at all. She could be fifty or seventy. It’s hard to tell.
       “That’s right,” the lady says. “I ordered it a month ago, and I was going to use that money to keep my car and my apartment. And I was counting on the interest from that million dollars. I was counting on it.” She has this affected way of talking, as if she is imitating how a millionaire would talk.
       “We take our self-help products, and our delivery of our self-help products, very seriously at Jon Holiday Publishing. Our customers cannot help themselves when they don’t get the service they expect and deserve,” Larry Donald says.
       “God helps those who help themselves,” the lady says.
       “Amen to that,” Larry Donald says. “And you see, Miss Biddle is going to sue us for the pain and suffering of having her car repossessed, of losing her job due to a lack of transportation, for the stress of dealing with her landlord, who, as I understand, was less than understanding, and for the interest she could have made on the money she didn’t make because she was unable to start her One Week Journey!™ in a timely manner that would have prevented these tragedies from occurring.”
       “How do you know this has anything to do with us?” Carrie asks. “Maybe the warehouse never shipped the book.”
       “The check wasn’t cashed,” Maureen says. Her eyes twitch between me and Larry Donald. “And the janitor found torn up checks in the toilet last night.”
       Larry Donald says, “We are aware that there is a situation in your department. That someone is sabotaging our operation from the inside.”
       Miss Biddle limps over to me and puts her hand in my hair. “You have pretty hair,” she says. “It would look great if you pinned it back with a paperclip.”
       After they leave, Tanya says, “Whatever. Maureen has something seriously up her ass.”
       “Yeah,” Tanya says, “and she wishes it was Larry.”
       I think about my bank account. If I can keep my job until the end of the week, my check will be $320.00, and I have $264.00 in my account. The rent is $1,300.00 and we owe $600.00 for last month. I could move back in with my mother in the Valley. Go to the community college out there under a brown blanket of smog, watch the finches die on the balcony, listen to the shush of traffic. I could go to the Greyhound station and take the next bus to wherever it’s going. I could start a new life somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But leaving is like running in a dream. There are so many possibilities but they all feel so impossible. And I think about I LOVE YOU FRANCINE in the concrete in front of our building, and Robert Plant singing “Baby,” and how frail Allen is now, and our kiss after Wuldor turned to gold.

 

I’m on the corner in front of the business park, waiting for the green light and the little white man so I can cross the street and walk home. Miss Biddle is sitting in the bus shelter on the other side of the street. Her feet are resting on a suitcase. I cross and sit down next to her.
       “You know it never would have worked. You can’t get rich in one week,” I say.
       “That’s negative thinking,” she says. “It will get you nowhere.” She opens her suitcase and pulls out Jon Holiday’s One Week Journey to a Million! ™. “Look,” she says. “Day 1: Positive Thinking.”
       I have never looked through Jon Holiday’s One Week Journey to a Million!™. There are, strangely, no copies of the book in the Jon Holiday office. The book is full of the kinds of affirmations you might see on posters in a guidance counselor’s office – “Don’t be a victim.” “Hang in there.” “Worrying is stewing about doing.” “The impossible is often the untried.” “Never say never.” “Yes I can.” The book is organized into a Sunday through Monday practice where the reader is supposed to repeat affirmations throughout the day while investing in the stocks listed in the book – a different stock per day. Each chapter begins with a quote from Shakespeare. 
       “I tear up the checks from people who can’t afford to buy the book,” I say. “The One Week Journey’s a scam. I’m trying to help.”
       The woman who sells flowers is on the center divider today. Somebody yells something from a truck and she jumps and drops her bucket, scattering flowers into the street.
       “I don’t know where you get the nerve,” Miss Biddle says. “Interfering like that.”
       “I just don’t think people should waste their money,” I say.
       Miss Biddle stands up and says in her millionaire voice, “You are an employee. You work in a mailroom. How dare you presume to know more than Jon Holiday, a respected author and financier.”
       “Look,” I say, “I was just trying to help. You can’t get rich in a week. Really.”
       “You do not have the authority to make that determination,” Miss Biddle says.
       I walk away. The wind blows a daisy into the curb. I pick it up.
       I come home to my alternate universe -- the apartment is clean and there are two pizzas on the pair of milk crates we use as a coffee table.
       “I got two large pizzas for 5.99,” Allen says. “It’s this new deal they have down the street.”
       I open the curtains to let the rest of the daylight in and put the daisy in a peanut butter jar. I sit down on the floor in front of the milk crates.
       “I’m going to get fired,” I say. I tell him about the checks and Miss Biddle.
       “You did that?” he says. He scooches next to me on the floor and hands me a slice of pizza. “You’re a hero. You’re like Robin Hood. You just need a funny hat.” He puts his hand on my head.
       I laugh and take a bite of pizza. It’s lukewarm but delicious and the most calories I’ve had at once in weeks.
       “I’m sorry about last night,” he says. “I was wrong about you doing nothing.” He kisses my cheek full of food. “I have a new character. This one can make it to class ten, I’m sure. She’s a woman. I made her for you.”
       We take our pizza to the computer cart, and Allen shows me the new character. Her name is Ka, and she’s Egyptian. She was a mummy until Allen woke her up and gave her special powers.
       “She can fight the Alchemist, no problem,” Allen says. “That asshole is not gonna kill me off this time.”
       Ka has hair like mine, only it’s not frizzy but in ringlets. She’s beautiful, with one of those Egyptian profiles. She’s in the Necropolis. I take the mouse and move her around. It’s possible to look in all directions in the game world. Everything is so detailed and intricate.
       “Why don’t you play for a while,” Allen says. “You’ll love it.”
       I do. I love it. I move Ka through the landscape of pyramids and sand. In the distance is a fire and figures around the fire. I want to introduce Ka to the other characters, show her off. I walk Ka toward the fire. Allen is in the kitchenette washing the dishes. I think, “I love you Allen.” I think maybe he’s right, that we can sell Ka on eBay once we get her to level ten, or – I don’t even know if this is possible – level eleven. I feel like I’m really in the Necropolis, but I’m not hot or cold or tired or hungry. I’m so comfortable and full from pizza.
       Ka walks by a pyramid and there’s a door made of stone. I want to see where the door leads. Ka pushes on it and it opens with a satisfying pop and creak. It’s amazing how you can go anywhere in the game and it’s so easy. The door leads into a tunnel that slopes down. Torches light up as Ka walks down the tunnel. It goes down and down for a long time, and at the end there is a room with a sarcophagus surrounded by Anubis-like dogs. They growl at Ka. I walk her backwards, but they jump on her. One rips a rope of her beautiful hair off her head. She doesn’t move.
       Allen comes up behind me.
       “What do you think of her?” he asks.
       “I think I killed her,” I say. I point to the screen.
       “You went into a tomb? You went into a tomb. Are you crazy? There are Tomb Guardians in tombs. Everyone knows that.”
       “I didn’t know.”
       “Why didn’t you use one of Ka’s spells?”
       “What spells? You didn’t show me how,” I say.
       He puts his hand over his face. “You just right click,” he says. “And the whole inventory comes up. You just right click.”
       “I didn’t know.”
       “Oh, come on. Don’t act like you didn’t do this on purpose.”
       “I didn’t. I didn’t know not to go into the tomb. You didn’t tell me.”
       “Well thanks a lot,” Allen says. “She was my ticket to level ten, a real moneymaker, and now I’m going to have to think of something else.”
       “I’m sorry,” I say.
       “Whatever,” he says. “I made her for you, but I guess that doesn’t matter.” He sits down at the desk and takes a shot of Dayquil.
       I walk out onto the sidewalk. It was so easy to move Ka around, and everything in the game was so beautiful, more textured and real than reality. The street looks flat compared to the Necropolis. I try to imagine the houses and buildings are pyramids, worlds to explore. I want to open doors and walk inside and open other doors and walk outside, but the doors of the houses and apartments are locked, and I don’t have any special powers to open them.


Jessica Breheny’s work has been published in Avery Anthology, Electric Velocipede, Eleven Eleven, elimae, Fugue, LIT, Otoliths, Other Voices, and Santa Monica Review among other journals. She is the author of the chapbooks Some Mythology (Naissance Press), and Ephemerides (Dusie Kollektiv). She teaches writing at San Jose City College.

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Vito Victor

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