My boyfriend came into my life by necessity, like a new word. He was from another country, and every time he mentioned it, its existence surprised us. People often mistook his difference for a superior intellect and would clap him on the back, only to quickly recoil, feeling how sharp and thin he was under his sweater.
white My boyfriend's face was carved with the sangfroid of a street vendor slicing peppers with a penknife, letting the pieces drop and fry in the dirty hot oil. My boyfriend struggled to open jars and pick up credit cards from the floor. Sometimes he'd read to me and if he came across a word he didn't know how to pronounce, he'd pretend to fall asleep mid-sentence. He was always recounting stories of things we supposedly did together, none of which I could remember. He said we picked up a pregnant hitchhiker, he said we'd been to Copenhagen, he said milk sponge bath, uptown dinner, public meltdown. When he described me, I didn't recognize myself.
white As a couple, we were a little bit too good. We were flat and pure, like distilled water. Every time an issue arose it was squashed in such a civilized manner that neither of us ever got to enjoy it. We'd drift back to our rooms, half-resolved.
white His days were horizontal. I'd stand over his sleeping figure, watching, hoping some internal process was transpiring. His last job was at an underground food hall, where he statistically brought in more female customers, though the restaurant ultimately lost customers because he made so many errors.
white I tried to talk him up to my friends. He has a skill, a trade, a profession, I said. Dreams, goals, ideas. He keeps abreast of domestic and foreign affairs. He would love to destroy the sun or use a star to burn the world. This is why I prune him carefully, allow him just enough light and air and food.
white Strangers often smiled at us on the street, until they got closer, saw something, and hurried away.
white These days I find myself performing false impres- sions and spreading rumors and lies as a form of social entertainment.