Lady Marmalade

March 13, 2008
By Molly Horan, Bristol, CT

Blowing the tangle of snarrrly red curls from her eyes Abby fixed the handivac with a calculating stare. “You suck”, she whispered, almost hissing. A tiny square of sunlight illuminated the space between her cold stare and the vacuum, and the whirling bits of dust the light revealed seemed to be the dust buster’s mocking retort. “Bested by my own home appliance”, she thought as she eased back onto her stomach, not even allowed the gratification of an anguished flop, lest the jolt wake Jacob. She buried her face into her pillow, surfacing every few minutes for a breath of air to avoid suffixation by her own untamable mane. The rhythm of it, and the strain and arc of her neck as she lifted her head from the depths of the warm red plaid, reminded her of a yoga pose. She tried to imitate the pattern of deep and shallow breaths she had seen on TV, but she just reverted to some odd combination of lamas and beat boxing. She tipped sideways again, letting her gaze rest on someone less likely than the vaccum to come up with a biting remark.
She’d met Jacob in the backroom of the local coffee shop. No one was really sure what it’s official name was, as the neon letters perched above its doorway had been swiped twenty years before by a rather precocious group of drunken undergrads trying to create a giant game of scrabble. It was referenced simply as the coffee shop, a place where every sip of caffeine was a stand against the man, and everything was served in naked white Styrofoam that looked so clean and full of potential you wondered how anyone could enjoy a latte encased in pink and orange.
Jacob had served her a daily bagel with marmalade for one and a half semesters before he began putting an extra packet of jam in her bag. She began to dream up an old fashioned courtship, eyes locking briefly as he’d hand her the bag with tokens of his affection, first extra butter pats, then crisp strips of bacon, finally culminating into a confession of love written in squeezable smucker’s on a slice of French toast. A week later she spilled her tea all over her new white shirt, and Jacob ushered her into the supply closet for some paper towels. She couldn’t remember who had kissed who first, whether they flicked the switch or let the dusty light coil shine like a beacon on their actions of lust, but she could never forget the flash of realizing he would never write the confession.
She arched her foot and gave him a quick kick under the sheets, digging her toenail into the skin of his calf. Nothing. “I’m leaving you.” she said matter of factly to the water stain above his head. “I’m leaving you for someone who will hold my knees during slasher movies so I don’t knock them raw. He will make me three o’clock snacks in bed of ants on a log and smile when I get peanut butter on my lips.” “He won’t like plaid and he will like dogs. And he will pack me extra marmalade everyday, even after we forget which toothbrush is our own even, even after we forget what we ordered on our first real date, even after the first time we hang up without saying I love you.” “Because no matter what you think, I’ll always need extra marmalade.

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