Dateline by Bibi Deitz

DATELINE

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

I sit on my roof at sunset.

Santa Fe, September:

No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop smoking pot. My boyfriend—my fiancé—comes home at night and lights a joint before he gets all the way through the house and onto the patio, where we’re supposed to smoke. I’ve been lit up for hours.

West Village, Manhattan, February:

I watch ferries go by. My friend’s dog is on the end of the leash I’m holding. My coat is supposed to be good for up to twenty below, but it’s thirty degrees warmer than that and I’m freezing. I can’t feel my hands. I can feel my heart, though, and fuck: it hurts.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, April:

I meet a man on a plane on the way to the city. It’s after a layover, my second plane. I’m still sniffling from a crying jag and this guy starts it up with me. Or I start with him, I can’t remember. By the time we land, his lips are on mine. He kisses me the way my fiancé never did, not once in the whole six years I knew him.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

Plastic bags rustle in the breeze. I’m under a flight path. The planes take off from JFK and go God-knows-where. Northeast. Maybe I’m directly under the flight path toward Europe. Something about that is heartening.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

I have no money but I’m drinking lime Pellegrino from a tiny glass bottle. Earlier I bought a new lipstick. Last week, new shoes. Charge card.

West Village, Manhattan, February:

It ended last week. Our engagement. It’s a silly word for what we had. There was nothing engaged about us. I was never in the same state and when I was, I still wasn’t. If you know what I mean. Mental state, physical state. What I mean to say is we were never going to get married.

Santa Fe, December:

No pot for a month. No drugs, no alcohol. I guess you could call me a saint. Don’t, though. Trust me.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, April:

This is a sublet. For the next thirty days, I get a windowless room and a huge backyard to call my own. A cat. Three itinerant roommates. Best of all, a door that locks and as many cups of tea as I want from a steaming pot of hot water on the stove.

West Village, Manhattan, February:

It’s no warmer. My friend’s husband returns in a month. Until then, I can live here. After that, Lord knows.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

The Pellegrino’s gone. The wind has changed and now the musk of deep garbage wafts up four flights and finds my nose on the roof. Sunset’s over. I suppose everything really is ephemeral, but that was particularly fast.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

In preparation for a job interview tomorrow, I inquire as to my closet’s contents. Answer: you might not look professional, but at least there will be no question as to whether you’ve ever gone thrift shopping.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, April:

I stomp over to the plane guy’s apartment. Every time I think about turning around, back to the cat and the tea and the spacious backyard, I chant, Bikini wax, bikini wax. I chant it all the way over there. It gets me to his buzzer.

Santa Fe, December:

On yet another hike through the Sangre de Cristos, I’m asked by a pair of rather rude tourists if I could please keep it down. I’m on the phone with my mother. I ask if they’re sure that they wouldn’t like to make a phone call, too. Try it, I say. It’s awfully quiet out here.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, July:

At least in New York you can walk anywhere while talking on a cell phone and no one will give you a dirty look. I take a long stroll through the neighborhood along Eastern Parkway under the maple trees. A skateboarder almost plows me down and I have to slap the flat of my palm against his chest to redirect us both away from collision. I don’t break stride and the only clue I give my caller—my mother again—is the Oh no, oh no I involuntarily intone.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, April:

Aren’t you curious what it would be like to sleep together?
That’s the text message I sent, after some back and forth after the plane.
Now, in the elevator to his front door: I’m less curious.

Santa Fe, December:

There are a lot of things about this place that I won’t miss if and when I make it out of here, but one thing I will think of fondly is the hundred-and-eighty degrees of sky. Sometimes it makes me dizzy when I look straight up.

First Night on Bean Alley by Ana Consuelo Matiella

First Night on Bean Alley

When Artemis moved into the house on Bean Alley, she brought only a few of her most precious belongings: her grandmother’s Singer sewing machine, an old Chinese hook rug with pink and powder blue flowers that she had bought at Goodwill even though it was worn down flat, a set of dishes with gold leaf and pink roses and the white chenille bedspread, also from Goodwill. She had no bed and no chairs so she spent the first day making giant purple and blue striped pillows that she threw on the living room floor.
In the alley by the house she found a large Mountain Bell telephone cable spool that she could turn into a coffee table. All she needed was a good saw. She also brought the orange lamp with the macramé lampshade, the one she and Miguel kept by the bed.
And, oh yes, she brought the gun.
The gun was given to her by her soon to be former father-in-law. It was a Smith and Wesson Colt .45 and it looked like it belonged to Wyatt Earp. It could be argued that the old man had given the gun to Miguel but it also could be argued that he meant it for her, for her protection because as he explained, Tucson was the rape capital of the United States of America, and you were more likely to be raped in Tucson than in Detroit, Michigan or Washington, D.C..
“And here,” he said, “you might need these. I hope not, but maybe.” He handed her the box of bullets while Miguel’s eyes drooped like oysters.
Now she wondered if Miguel would insist on getting the gun back. What would she do then?
The Colt .45 was wrapped in a piece of soft black velvet. She sat on the floor, took the gun from the moving box and unwrapped it. She polished it with the soft cloth until it shined.
Then Artemis did something that would shock anyone who knew about guns. She put the barrel right up to her left eye and looked into it like you’re not supposed to, if the gun is loaded.
She pulled the trigger.
It clicked.
The gun wasn’t loaded, but pulling the trigger while her eye was up against the barrel made her heart pound fast. When she put the gun down on the hardwood floor, she heard her heart still thumping and visualized the blood pounding against the walls of her arteries like in the film they showed her in high school all those years ago in health class.
Artemis then took a deep breath and reached for the bullets. She held one bullet in between her thumb and forefinger and she looked at it very carefully before she began to load the bullets into the cylindrical firing chambers, one by one. When the gun was loaded, she spun the cylinder that held the bullets around like she watched Miguel do so many times, and then she slammed the gun shut.
Artemis set the gun aside. She looked at it; the pearl handle struck a nice contrast against the hardwood floor. She made a mental note to photograph it when she got her camera back, and reached for the gun again. This time she unloaded it and wrapped it up in the black velvet cloth and put it away in one of the empty kitchen drawers.
She noticed a big red broom, probably left by the former tenant, and decided to sweep the kitchen. She methodically made her way to the living room, all the while wondering if she would ever be capable of using the Colt .45 if she had to, like if the mad rapist broke into her home, now that she was alone in this house that looked like the wooden house that the big bad wolf huffed and puffed and blew down in the story of the three little pigs that her dad told and retold, so many times, so many years ago.
It was dark now and Artemis was tired. She needed sleep and she needed more of her stuff. Tomorrow she would go to the apartment while Miguel was at work and get some more of her things. Her Pentax K1000, the yellow towels, her coffee pot and the toaster.
Tonight she would sleep on the giant pillows and wrap herself up in the white chenille bedspread.
Artemis opened the kitchen drawer and took the gun out again. She loaded it and laid it next to her as she got ready for bed.
When Artemis went to switch the orange lamp off, she could see through the woven twine of the macramé lampshade and there, draped around the metal stem that held the light bulb was a giant moth. She watched it intently as she tried to decide the best way to get the moth outside where it would be safe from her rubber flip flop. She hated to kill harmless creatures, no matter how creepy. As she stared at the moth, her eyes felt tired and heavy, and she thought about Miguel and how he would dispose of the moth, with a paper towel or a handkerchief, or just simply by reaching in and grabbing it and throwing it outside. While she was mildly missing Miguel and thinking about what to do with the moth, a flash of movement shocked her out of her sleepy stupor. A wolf spider, the largest she had ever seen had come from nowhere and attacked the moth. In a matter of seconds the moth was barely visible as the spider consumed it.
Careful not to make a sudden move, Artemis got up from the floor and reached for the red broom. She tapped the lamp with the broom and the lamp fell on its side. The spider lurched out from under the lampshade in a slow but deliberate motion.
With the flat side of the worn out broom, Artemis slammed it down so hard on the spider that her hand hurt from the impact. She flipped the broom over to make sure there was no sign of life and saw the slimy substance that confirmed the death of the spider in the fibers of the tattered broom.
She took the broom out to the rickety porch and leaned it up against the wall.
And the desert night was quiet except for the sound of crickets.

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