Clinging To The Bottom

I want to tell her they are there, latent on the glass, hidden among pearls of moisture. She’d probably wonder how a person could see something unseen. I’ve started to wonder if she thinks this way about everything.

The glass has been on the coffee table for almost a week when she picks it up, repours seltzer, drops in a lemon and ice. I have learned that she likes to leave it out for a while, so the bubbles won’t sting. I try to speak but am interrupted by the surprise crunch of ice between her teeth. She puts the glass down on top of the cover of last month’s Esquire, mercifully sparing the varnish below. I already know I will find it the next day, half-full, the wrinkled magazine clinging to the bottom when I lift the glass.

It was my idea to begin with. Her roommate was moving out at the end of the month, and it just came out of my mouth, a happy sort of accident, a question and curiosity in one; maybe I should move in with her. It was one of those moments when you don’t really know how badly you want something until you say it out loud.

I watched her, that first night by the sink, run her fingers around the lip of a rocks glass, barely a splash of water. I thought she was joking when she left it in the drying rack and turned off the light. I didn’t know what to say when she asked why my hands smelled like lilac when I climbed into bed, so I kissed her, and she kissed back, the way that she does, and I reminded myself to buy unscented dish soap.

Then I started finding others. A menagerie of water glasses on her night stand, a chipped coffee mug on the hamper, a highball with crusted vanilla yogurt on its rim left next to the front door. She once told me to tell her if something was wrong, that she never wanted to be one of those people that you couldn’t say something to. I’ve never been good at taking people at their word.

She comes into the bathroom, sips a half-full glass of orange juice before putting it back on the toilet so she could moisturize her face. She stares at herself while rubbing her cheeks, and then looks at me, the way that she does. When she kisses me, I ignore the taste of hardened pulp and chewed oranges.

I begin to drop hints, tell her I read online that there are more germs in your mouth than most toilet seats, ask her if we should talk to the manager about installing a dishwasher. She shrugs and continues to chop carrots for the boeuf bourguignon she has been promising to make for weeks. She drinks Bordeaux straight from the bottle before pouring some in the pot. When she wipes her lips with her sleeve, the wine looks like smeared blood, her own kind of miracle. She doesn’t seem to notice. Instead, she apologizes for almost finishing the bottle and pulls out the stemless wine glass that I had put in the sink four days ago, the one I swore I wouldn’t wash this time, and pours almost the rest of the bottle.

I’m about to say something, to protest, to tell her that something is most certainly wrong here, the only thing wrong here, but she hands the glass to me and raises the bottle in toast.

“To happy accidents,” she says and smiles, the way that she does, revealing her plum stained teeth.

I clink glass to bottle and smile back, before I close my eyes and try not to think about what I’m swallowing. 

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