How the Day Goes I-IV
by Zachary Doss
How the Day Goes
Your boyfriend listens to a lot of Fiona Apple, feels sad for no reason, lacks confidence in his writing. Your boyfriend won’t get off fucking Twitter. To cheer him up you bring your boyfriend flowers and cupcakes and a small wooden doll. The small wooden doll is the kind where you can bend its limbs into different poses, the kind artists sometimes use for models, but a smaller version, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Your boyfriend twists the small wooden doll’s limbs into a strange shape, a kind of dance. He sets the small wooden doll on one of the cupcakes, mooshes it down into the icing. Then he leaves the room and you spend some time looking at the doll dancing on top of the cupcake, trying to decide what it all means.
How the Day Goes II
Your boyfriend is having a hard time at his job. There are numerous difficulties, his boss, the grind of his daily tasks, the generally poor quality of the office equipment. It’s depressing, he spends his whole day on social media. I come home every day tired from doing nothing, he says, and it’s true, he has been especially tired lately. You tell him to quit, but he shrugs and asks what you would do for money if he quit. You are honest, tell him you don’t know, which is maybe the wrong answer, but neither of you makes a lot of money. He talks about getting a better job, both of you getting better jobs, but neither of you can imagine being qualified to do anything better than what you’re doing now. Together you go out to the lake where you spent much of your teen years, together you drink a case of beer and watch the sun rise over the water. You suggest wandering out into the hills, getting lost and never coming back. He shrugs. As a compromise, you leave empty cans in the muddy lakebed, set end-to-end, spelling out HELP.
How the Day Goes III
You and your boyfriend go to a lot of funerals. Friends, friends of friends, relatives, people you both only barely knew from the office. Your favorite bartender dies. The bagger at the grocery store dies. The waitress who gives bad service at your favorite restaurant dies. You and your boyfriend go to all the funerals. It seems like you dry clean your suit every week. The weather refuses to turn gloomy; it’s unusually sunny and warm for spring, you sweat through your shirt every time you walk from the small stone church to the overfull graveyard. When the mailman dies, you stop getting invitations to the funerals because there’s no one to deliver them. Instead people rely on social media. Social media will outlive all of us, your boyfriend says at one funeral. But soon after that, social media dies too. You and your boyfriend agree to skip all future funerals, but later you catch him hanging out at the small stone church, wearing a freshly cleaned suit, waiting for the next funeral to start. You stay for that funeral, and the next one, but you’ll be damned if you spend any more money dry cleaning that suit.
How the Day Goes IV
Your boyfriend gets sick. It’s not the kind of sickness where he will eventually get better. It’s the kind of sickness in which you must make the most of the time you have left together, which is what everyone tells you. You are both unsure of how to make the most of the time you have left together. You take up team sports, go to cooking classes, learn to scrapbook, join a church, take a road trip. You expect the road trip to be emotionally fraught, but you’re both pretty agreeable the whole time. In Arizona, you try a burger made out of emu, which you both agree is gross. He kisses you on the cheek and you take a picture with a cactus. You ask him how sick he feels and he shrugs and says, not very. You don’t feel very sick either. When you get back from your road trip, you’re both out of things you wanted to do together, and so you go back to your jobs. You made the most of the time you had left, but you didn’t plan for any extra time. Thank God we don’t have to scrapbook anymore, your boyfriend says. So dumb, you agree.
Zachary Doss is a fiction editor for Banango Street, a volunteer screener for Ploughshares, and the most recent former editor of Black Warrior Review. His work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Sonora Review, Fairy Tale Review, Caketrain, DIAGRAM, Paper Darts, and others. His short story “Bespoke” was the winner of Puerto del Sol‘s 2016 contest in fiction. He can be found online at zacharydoss.com.
Image: “Lake Iset in Ekaterinburg with floating beer bottles”, by Peretz Partensky