While my husband sleeps, I will disassemble the walls of our apartment, remove the light switch covers, misplace the screws, let them roll underneath the baseboard heaters, never to be found again. I will flirt with the idea of quitting my job via text while sanding the alabaster paint with eighty grit. The tedious rubbing and twinges of carpal tunnel will remind me of sex, and I will try and fail to think about anything else. I will elect to forgo the priming step because, honestly, I don’t expect him to stick around much longer after this, and I won’t be able to afford rent after I send the quitting text. On unswept laminate, I will lay out nine-foot strips of tropical soiree wallpaper and smother them with paste. This will not be contained to an accent wall. I will spend the rest of my days here in a fucking jungle paradise, so help me, God. When the paper is softened, I will hang it and cry when the monstera illustration on the overlapping seams doesn’t line up. I will smooth every inch, a compulsion that will take me hours, caressing the surface with the bony edge of my palm until the sun rises. I will stop when I run out of paper or paste or the will to live, and I will drape my fruiting body across the couch and clutch my uterus as it reminds me, cramping, that it is indeed vacant. This nesting will end soon. We will not get our security deposit back.
TWO SCORPIOS IN A BOTTLE
Petra waits for her date at a bar in a town she can’t remember the name of. Tonight, she’s not a flight attendant on an overnight—she’s a bi-curious grad student whose Tinder profile will disappear after a night of tipsy kissing and pillow talk. She’ll rejoin the rest of the crew at the airport just before their eight o’clock departure to Miami, and nobody will know about her compulsive rendezvous or just how much she prefers the company of strangers. She alternates sips of a sweating negroni with the taste of iron eclipsing from her bitten cuticles and compulsively rereads the last line of her daily horoscope:
Your destiny awaits, dear Scorpio.
Across the bar, Syd arrives in the outfit she described in her pre-dinner sext: black boots, ripped jeans, and a lace blouse with faux boning that is, in essence, lingerie. Petra looks up, recognizes her ensemble, and recoils. A few hours ago, the two were sparring over beverage service. Syd, hoarding all the diet cokes on her cart, and Petra, forced to ask her every time a passenger requested one. At work, Petra routinely daydreams about their plane someday falling out of the sky, colliding with the Atlantic, Syd drowning in an iridescent slick of flaming jet fuel when the life vests fail. They stare at one another, both successfully catfished and outed, their destruction mutually assured. Syd takes the seat next to Petra and buys two shots. To never telling a soul, Syd says. Petra raises her glass. The collective burn of eighty proof in their throats absolves them of whatever’s fated to happen when Venus enters Scorpio in the eighth house.
Chelsea Bouchard (she/her) is a writer and evening shift nurse from New Hampshire, where she lives with her husband and two tuxedo cats. Her work has appeared in Beaver Magazine and is forthcoming in Many Nice Donkeys. You can find her on socials @chelfmarie.