This is a preview for the fourth short story in my collection The First Year. If you like this preview and want to finish the story, it can be found on my personal blog. You can read the whole story HERE
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself
This morning is a blur. I remember Peter getting up for work, but only vaguely. He kissed me good-bye, said “I love you,” and left. At least, I think that’s all that happened. That’s all I remember, anyway.
I glance at the digital clock on my nightstand. Crap. 11:45. I did it again. I close my eyes tightly and try to focus on how I feel: Warm. Comfortable. My head is clear. I hold on to this moment for as long as I can before I think of Mallory. Mallory. She is the bane of my existence.
Sighing, I reach for my phone. I have no text messages. Go figure. The only people who text me are all at work. They all have jobs because they are all worth something. I think I hear Mallory stirring.
I sit up and look around our tiny bedroom. The walls are white. The bedspread is twisted around my legs. The floor is scattered with clothes. My sweatpants. I reach for these, trying hard not to fall out of bed. This is the only work out my abs ever get.
Once I retrieve my sweatpants, I swing my legs over the side of the bed. First, I slip the pants over my right leg. Then the left. I shimmy the waistband over my thighs, and finally stand. The waistband feels a little tighter than normal. Mallory is definitely awake in the other room.
I bend down to grab a shirt. The shirt on top of the pile closest to me is green. I put it on. It’s Peter’s. I look down at the Nike swoosh across my chest. Just do it. Yeah right.
I reach up for my blonde hair and pull it over my shoulders. It’s a tangled, greasy mess. I try to comb my fingers through it, but then I give up. It’s not like there’s anyone to impress anyway. I pull the rubber band off my wrist, fling my head down, and watch my hair cascade toward the ground. I grab it and throw it up into a messy bun on top of my head. There. Now it’s at least out of the way.
I walk over to the bedroom door and yank it open. Peter showed me how to fix it, but I haven’t yet. I don’t want to destroy our apartment. Chili, everywhere. Up the side of the refrigerator, all over the linoleum, inside the drawers and cabinets. I shake my head. I can’t do anything right.
Once the door is open, I look to my right. There she is. Sitting on the couch. Waiting for me. She’s wearing white underwear and a powder-blue shirt that v-necks right to the top of her perfect cleavage.
“Good morning, Mallory.”
She sneers, crossing one long, tanned leg over the other. “Shut up, you lazy slob. It’s almost noon. It isn’t morning anymore.”
I walk over to the kitchen and flip on the light. There are still a few chili beans on the floor. I lean down to pick them up. I have to bend my knees, because I’m not as flexible as I used to be.
“Don’t bother. The apartment is a pigsty anyway. You might as well leave the mess.”
I toss the beans into the sink, trying to ignore her.
“Can I have some Cheerios this morning? Or are you going to make me eat donuts again?” Mallory didn’t like donuts. They were the mortal enemy of her hour-glass figure.
I look in the cupboards. They are full, but only because Peter works so hard. I hate Cheerios. I push them aside and reach for the box of donuts that I keep hidden behind all the healthy food that Peter buys for me.
“I knew it. You are so weak.”I can’t help it. I don’t like healthy food, and I just can’t force myself to eat it. Who cares if I live a long life? Bring on the diabetes and the cancer and the high cholesterol. I don’t care. Maybe I’d go on a run later to counteract it. But I know I won’t. My muscles are already so tired, I can barely stand.