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On the tape, Chris produces the package. “Can I trust you with this?” he says, in a bad French accent. “Can I trust you with this?” I say, gesturing obscenely. “Just take the package! Then hold it until—” “—not holdin’ it—” “—you’re holding it—” “—hold this, you fu—” On the couch next to me, Laurie’s shaking quietly with laughter. I shove her away, and she falls back against my shoulder, sipping her wine. “You’re good at this,” she says loudly. “You’re good at acting fucked up.” She starts laughing again. Watching the tape, I remember trying to make up stuff that would fit, and I’m thinking how readily I rose to the task, how natural it felt. Laurie’s stroking the back of my neck and sipping wine with her other hand. I grab the remote and turn off the tape on a shot of myself during an awkward pause, aware that I’m being filmed, looking uncertain about what to do next. I head back to the kitchen for a refill. As I sit down at the table, Laurie comes in, walks around my chair and sits, facing me. “I guess it’s not a pretty sight,” she says, and almost laughs again, but stops herself and puts her hands on my knees. Now it seems like she’s looking inside herself, seeing more than I can see. But something plays across her face, exposed, shifting. “I have to admit” she says, “I’m glad they’re through filming. So I can have you back, you know, the way you were before.” When I don’t reply, she grabs both my shoulders and shouts: “The fucking film’s all finished now!” then lowers her voice again. “What do I have to do? OK, we won’t drink anymore, how’s that? I was going to stop anyway. It’s not something I care about.” She’s still gripping my arms, her face close to mine, holding my gaze. “We could at least give it a little rest for a while,” I say, really hating the statement. Then I look over at the sitting space where we filmed one day, then down at the kitchen table, remembering Laurie bent over it with her dress pulled up. 34

This view quickly fades, however, giving way to the present, our current situation—everything changed—and as I pick up my coat I find myself wondering if this is the last time I’ll ever be here. As if reading my mind, Laurie jumps out of her chair and rushes at me, throwing her arms around my shoulders, laughing nervously. “Wait a minute. Where do you think you’re going? Can’t you stay awhile?” Instantly, our mouths are pressed together, and we’re locked into each other. I shove her up against the refrigerator, tilting it, which knocks something loose, and there’s the crashing sound of bottles inside. Laurie seems oblivious, her legs off the floor and wrapped around me—or rather the crashing has only spurred her on. But the clinking glass sounds have reminded me of something. An image knocked loose that I don’t want to see. And I’m wondering how it’ll affect my performance. * Later on, Laurie decides to go out for more wine, and as I sit at the kitchen table, drinking quietly, Matt comes back with still more people, all in costumes. I figure, what the hell, may as well be sociable, and get up to join them. But with Laurie absent I feel out of place almost at once. Chris is wearing a black gorilla suit that he rented for the party. He has it all on except for the head, and Annie is having a fit of barking--alternated with vibrating growling, as if she has a little motor inside her--at this large hairy animal that’s suddenly appeared in the living room. It’s a pretty good gorilla suit, and Chris stands there laughing, holding the head, while Annie’s barks echo under the high ceiling. The kids mill around Chris, and the discussion turns to various girls who aren’t present—a litany of unfamiliar names—as the dog barks, and I try to keep my eyes from rolling back into my head. Bored out of my skull, I think, what would Laurie do if she were here? I leave the group and head for the refrigerator, where I open the door and extract a beer.

Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

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