The day of my birthday I was wearing my new rain boots when my real estate agent called.
“We have a closing date!” she screamed. She was forever screaming. This is such a beautiful house, so much potential! Oh my god, look at that backsplash!
“You’re kidding,” I said. “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
“Well, your luck is changin’, sweetheart,” she screamed again.
I was breathless at first then I tried to cry because it seemed like the right thing to do. All I could manage were a few throaty noises and a sniff.
“Do you have a cold?” she yelled. “You should drink hot tea with honey! It’ll clear up your phlegm!”
I thanked her and hung up. What a narcissist. Still, I sent her a fruit basket to thank her for all of her hard work. I cared about people even if they were annoying.
“Are you so happy?” my mom asked when I called to tell her.
“Yes. Unless everything goes to shit before then—story of my life. Will you come help me move?”
“I have to check with Richard, but I think so.”
Richard was her new boyfriend. I liked to call him Dick because that’s what he was.
“Richard can come too,” I sang. “I could use the extra muscle.” I was packing my medicine cabinet, putting all the little bottles into a shoebox. I pulled one out from the time I pretended to have cancer and shook it in front of my face. I’d always liked the idea of being doomed. Plus, dying gave you perspective, purpose. People told you you’re brave and believed it, like it was my fucking choice to have this cancer that I didn’t really have.
There was a long pause by my mother. “Oh, he’s not into that sort of thing.”
The sort of thing where his girlfriend had children?
“Oh fine. I really just want to have you to myself for a few days anyway,” I lied.
“I’ll do all the cleaning,” she said, cheerfully. “You know how I am about that.”
Yes, yes I did.
“I have to go, Mom. Tina is calling.”
“Oh good, tell her hi-”
I hung up before she could finish. Tina was my friend. My imaginary friend. I invented her to get out of phone calls and family obligations. She was a missionary to Haiti so she was hardly ever in the country. Thus, when she called or came for a surprise visit, I had to drop everything to see her. I loved Tina. I wasn’t super into the religion thing, but her heart was in the right place. Besides, she was the type of friend who always showed up when you needed her.
“Hey, Tina,” I said, dropping my phone on the counter. “So nice of you to call.”
I carried my box of pills to the living room and looked around at the empty beige walls. Good riddance to this place, and this life. Somewhere up in the vacuum the stars were agreeing: Taurus, your life is about to take an unexpected turn for the better.
I decided to have a look at the garden. My real estate agent had screamed something about it having great potential, which usually meant it was a piece of shit that was going to cost thousands of dollars to fix. Someone once told me I had great potential, and look—I’d need at least thirty thousand dollars of surgery to get my tits and ass to where they needed to be. When I stepped outside I couldn’t even see any flowerbeds, everything was so overgrown. The grass was filled with clover and was patchy like a dog had peed his way through the lawn. A gnarled apple tree was in need of a good pruning. The only thing redeeming about the yard was the gazebo that stood at the far end of the lawn. Its paint was chipped, and the remains of a rose trellis now crisp and dead, clung to its latticework, but it was once pretty and could be again. Like me.
George would be good at this. He liked to do things in the yard. Maybe I’d hire someone, that way it could get done quickly instead of me having to wait around. Someone I could rely on to come on the regular to maintain it. I decided I’d ask the neighbors if they knew of anyone. Asking people for advice was a good way to form camaraderie, even if you didn’t necessarily need their advice. I was about to go back inside to look up some phone numbers when I heard a child’s voice from the garden next door. My heart was beating fast as I walked over to the fence that divided Bad Mommy’s house from mine and peeked over. There she was—the reason for all of this, my reason. She suddenly looked up like she sensed I was watching her. Our eyes locked and her little face was neither alarmed nor afraid. And why should she be? We knew each other. I cleared my throat.
“Hello, I’m Fig. What’s your name?”
She was wearing a little pink tutu and a T-shirt that said Daddy’s Princess in silver letters. When I spoke, she immediately stopped what she was doing to give me her undivided attention.
“Fig,” she said, in a sweet voice, and then she giggled. I couldn’t help but smile.
“Yes, Fig,” I said. “That’s my name.” I pointed to myself. “What’s yours?” I jabbed a finger in her direction. I was leaning over the fence to see her, almost too far. An inch more and I’d have toppled forward.
She looked over her shoulder for Bad Mommy, presumably. Yes, where was she, anyway? Leaving the tiny thing out in the yard by herself. Why, she could just wander off … or be taken.
“Where’s your ba-mommy?” I asked her.
She pointed to the back door. I could hear the clank and clatter of dishes coming through the kitchen window. Some sort of folk music played and a woman’s voice sang along.
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