A recently-divorced 70-something took 20 minutes of my 23rd year.

First, he called me an idiot savant with regards to my schoolwork. Then his eyes met my ears:

“If the villains are yourself then people become real contenders.”

He even shook my paper above his head. “Things don’t have to go far enough for this awful exchange!”

The A- he gave me must have felt very instructional to him.

I have spent most of my youth tussling with bodies negligent of their spiritual wellness.

Must I also admit to having brought others into the hot water I shat in?

The first was a one-time radical too good at mathematics.

His brain could have made a bridge hold heavier cars for longer.

Instead, he wrote poems. They were fanatical and book-length and came with a pair of starched socks.

He kissed like a washcloth. My breasts became his sabbatical.

His moods dictated his weight. We carried on at restaurants that note just how cold their noodles come.

His sweaters were habitat-specific and blue-y.

I was young enough to enjoy all the nodding along he required.

Perhaps I speak sentimentally because he was my only brush with maternity.

One weekend I squatted in a motel bathroom to fart out a fallen condom then ran across the street to drop 60 bucks of student loan money on a morning after pill.

We got on until the difference in our reading materials began to show.

I got hard for the festering of unpleasantness and the daily dissection of it on the phone to various bored friends.

The way I had talked up his beastliness I knew he would have to be ended via falling out his loft window onto his own vehicle.

I was sabotaged by my last visit.

When I came in I thought the place asleep.

But then I saw his cracked bathroom door, the soft light across the floor.

Moving closer, I spied him sitting on the toilet eating a pastry.

Little flakes gathered in a loose pile on his balls.

I thought, That’s probably enough to bury us both and then left.

From there, I went on to make some bad calls as far as living arrangements.

Once with a squirmer who went on afterwards to tell tales taller than me to a few close friends.

Lady, if I was having a nervous break, I would call my own cab a week in advance.

She had done her research, but the follow-through reeked of internet.

From the start, nothing of her read as long-awaited.

She got to folks because they had the heart to believe that many terrible things could happen in the life of a blonde person.

I met her coming down from the habit of thinking you ran errands with someone to become friends.

So errands we ran. Her errands, but that was good. This accomplice hates to drive.

Her cat had congenital herpes. It clotted his human-blue eyes with red goop.

I would use a wetted paper towel to clean them and then toss a few lysine treats in his dish.

The both of them mistook my measures against transference for kindness.

Another roommate wholly hated me from behind her eyes.

She was in Army ROTC and spent time under my college boyfriend on their snowboarding trips.

She had television hair but her upper lip housed bursty sores.

Her stress came from being pushed down the stairs by her brother, I think.

Or maybe it was generalized emotional laziness.

She liked to tell others their physical activity was inadequate.

We followed each other from dorm to apartment like foster kids.

She really liked to burn butter in a frying pan.

My financial constraints continued to bypass my doubts that people ought to share living quarters.

So, for half a year, I shared a bathroom with a guy who dressed like a principal.

He had a girlfriend back home. Her visits consisted of wearing office wear to sit on his twin bed while he played video games.

She would hover near my bedroom door until I shut her face in it.

In retrospect, her true minus was that she ate the better part of a box of ice cream sandwiches I was using for emotional support.

Even at work, who I was and who I was apt to find became too apparent.

I worked at a hotel too briefly during a summer.

The reservations office was a converted banquet closet.

We listened to the radio from our phones while we deliberated our work.

My office mate was a woman who said “and that stuff” at the end of every sentence.

I got to know her husband’s dream of buying a truck.

I relived with her all of the dealerships they walked, all the times they had debated on an extended cab.

Her kids sounded like shit. All tablets and not putting wet clothes into the dryer.

She worried about how much bang to have cut. Would too much turn her into somebody else entirely?

The thrill of her life was when a guy she befriended in line at a McDonald’s followed her into the parking lot.

The job afforded its insights. For instance, I watched two young women bully a pregnant co-worker over the phone.

One of those young women called herself office manager because her desk was parked next to the employee uniform closet.

Her title meant she got to wear a yellow frock instead of ill-fitting black dress pants like the rest of us.

She was one of those of airy shits.

A lot like the one who lived with a good friend of mine.

This turd hit a car during a bad winter while too hip and drunk. He then ditched the car and reported it to his insurance as stolen.

Also, he is known for falling asleep in the middle of sexual congress and for bursting through bedroom doors where teachers of children are sleeping.

His aura was both rat and rat poison. I remember eating very slowly at his table.

I said, “Thanks a mil for the help” then left to warm the exit.

Can we simply summarize ourselves as all together mismanaging the angles at which we are caught?

The only contender I ever met had all the vocabulary but couldn’t regrow his limbs.

I botched the whole of our Ohio summer inside a rented room with a borrowed blue chair.

Why don’t you keep it, my beau didn’t say.

He wanted it back along with the stool.

He also commented that my oranges felt too soft.

They’re fine, they’re for the bowl, I informed him.

You’ll let fruit rot in a bowl for guests to look at?

He had only one side he would turn on in his sleep.

The other pained him too much. An old arrow wound that healed at a disadvantage.

We had the mature habit of using email to suss each other out.

There might be worse ways to make sure you grab hold of another’s afternoon.

In all this, I have kept myself. A lair before a liar.

The key is to stop identifying with the door if it flinches when you pass through.

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BRENNA YORK lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband, Nate, and their cat, Jasper.