By David Kaplan
When it comes down to it, you have to embrace the mystery. That’s what Kassiday says. It’s not quite a knee-jerk reaction to a question without a clear solution. Sometimes it is the only answer. Sometimes she opts to change the subject. She has no tolerance for dead-ends. She otherwise hates repeating herself. But there’s only one answer to “2+2.” She said that once.
At the moment, she’s standing at the second-story living room window. She crosses her navy leggings and hugs a large ceramic coffee mug to her muted fuscia short-sleeve shirt. She’s staring at something. She’s been silent for several minutes. Maybe it’s the artist across the backyard. Maybe she spies the cautious squirrel that has no tail. She lifts her left leg to her right knee and takes a sip. It’s her minimalist Sunday morning ballet.
There’s a rising humming sound. It could be next door — the apartment walls are thin. It could be a construction site several blocks away. The heater clangs and shushes. The sounds push away the gathering wind and the other ambient noise.
My orange coffee cup is empty. I might as well do some work and open my computer. I ask her what she’s looking at. She ignores the question.
“You can’t write when someone is talking to you,” she says, still looking out the window.
“It’s not a problem, really—”
“No — you shouldn’t.”
It’s too cold to work. I need 77 degrees to relax. Anything more or less gets in the way.
“It’s comfortable. You’re just looking for an excuse to procrastinate.” I’m not sure if she just said that or if I just imagined it. Either way, it was more tender than a reprimand.
Maybe it was a ghost.
“You don’t believe in ghosts — or anything, really — but you do like to blame them for everything.” I’m pretty sure she said that just now. She stamps a foot after balancing on one leg for 6 minutes.
I like sitting in my old t-shirt and plaid boxers.
“Here’s a thought: It’s the middle of winter. Maybe if you didn’t dress like you were at Coney Island, you wouldn’t be cold. Just a thought.” She smiles. Then she winces. Almost imperceptibly. But I caught it. She’s had to say that before.
Watch how I change the subject.
“What kind of an idiom is, ‘’Colder than a witch’s tit?’ Who came up with that? How did it gain currency? Did anyone ever say, ‘Hotter’n a warlock’s testicles?’ I have no idea about the temperature of occult figures’ private parts. But it seems like maybe I should popularize that.”
“I guess if you are a witch, your tits are long neglected,” she says. “And no one cares about warlocks. No one ever says anything ‘warlock-related.’ There’s no reference. Except for Harry Potter fans. Or Hobbit people. There’s no image to conjure. So give it up. If you don’t want to be productive, fine. It’s a Sunday. You might as well keep thinking about ghosts.”
Featured Image: by Cat Weaver