The show we are not watching is on Buddhism. Your hand dips absently into the plastic bowl of Colonel Redenbacher’s; my ketchup chips are long gone. The Knicks are playing the Lakers, but I don’t suggest switching the channel. Another game, I can hear you snort. We play our own.
When you came home, I beamed at your new short curls; your lips vanished as you looked through me. You dropped your purse like an anvil, opened a can of Heineken, pressed the cold beads to your forehead, didn’t ask if I wanted one or how the job search went. The door of your office slammed—stood by the door, shamelessly eavesdropping.
All your words sizzle, especially when you talk to Mama Python. I heard you call Hydra his dog, say she piddles on the kitchen linoleum and you’ll be damned if you wipe any more messes. My piddles are next to the toilet, the daisies of my affection.
I don’t mention your new smell, a waterfall, whooshing with success, martini lunches, the partnership track.
My head throbs: Why no, Olivia, I did not get that call-back. No, the agency did not get in touch. The secretary at the headhunter’s disconnected my call by mistake.
The narrator says, “Die to old judgments and opinions, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness.”
I say, “Bought a new bottle of cologne, a little musky, sporty. Trimmed my hair a bit.”
You don’t hear: the TV volume is too high.
Your popcorn smells of butter and red pepper flakes, but I don’t reach in.
On the screen, peacocks strut and preen outside a monastery.
“If I applied to a plumbing course at Meridien, they might offer a mature student discount or a deferred payment schedule. Always work in the toilet trade.”
The monks’ humming is most soothing.
I stare at you, drinking in peacocks. They’re no more than overgrown chickens with showy feathers. Bet they’d make a tasty stew, simmered all day. They don’t fly much, wouldn’t be hard to catch. We could go to the zoo this weekend.
“At Mario’s, they’re looking for pizza deliverers.”
After the show, your feet thunder on the way upstairs. I don’t follow.
Andrew Stancek describes his vocation as dreaming—clutching onto hope, even in turbulent times. He has been published widely, in SmokeLong Quarterly, FRIGG, Hobart, Green Mountains Review, New World Writing, New Flash Fiction Review, Jellyfish Review, Peacock Journal, and The Phare, among others. He has won the Reflex Fiction contest, the New Rivers Press American Fiction contest, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His flash fiction piece “Peacocks” received Honorable Mention in Cleaver’s 2022 flash fiction contest judged by Meg Pokrass.
Cover Design by Karen Rile