Gina & Brynne

“This is bullshit, this right here. It’s melancholy sad-rad bullshit.”

Brynne kept talking and Gina listened to the sound of a toilet flushing upstairs. A real whoosh. They lived on the third and highest floor of an old building near Stanford and the walls were thin enough. It sounded like jumping into the pipes to freedom.

“And this,” said Brynne, gesturing to Gina, sitting on the ground, “this doesn’t help. You need to do something. We can go for a walk, we can take an Uber to the hills. We live in the best place, surrounded by everything we need. How can you be this way?”

The floorboards were polished and new, perfectly aligned, with no creaks or cracks to offend Brynne. He wouldn’t live in a place unless it was newly remodeled. When Gina rubbed her hand on a spot next to her, it felt cold, smooth, and slightly ribbed, for her pleasure, so she smiled.

“You don’t care about you, but I do,” said Brynne. “You think it’s funny that I care so much.”

She continued to look at the window. Its glass was streaked from weeks of alternating rain and dust deposits. That was how animals and people became preserved in the ground. Layers and layers, one after another, like a cake, or pages in a book. Each layer had something to say. The oldest, if they weren’t washed away, spoke volumes.

“God! I hate this shit. We’re adults and I feel like I’m a dad yelling at his kid.” Brynne walked away and slipped into his Nikes. “I can’t be here right now,” and he left.

The door was a heavy wood, perhaps old like the building, but sanded and polished like everything in the apartment. It thudded when he emphasized his exit. There was only one lock above the door handle and Brynne had the original key for it, given to them by the building manager. Gina had a spare key that they had made at the Home Depot. They were shopping for shelves.

She stood up and walked to the window. Brynne was waiting on the sidewalk, staring down at his phone. She lingered there and watched until a car appeared and took Brynne away.

Gina pulled a tin out of the drawer chest in her closet and rolled a spliff. The window opened to a quiet street where not much happened, except people, bikes, and cars passing, and she sat on the sill for a while. The bikes were her favorite part of the street. Many students passed and they were younger than her, but not by much, really. She would throw on her own Nikes and walk downstairs later in the morning, then walk down the way, past the quiet streets, by the RVs and vans parked on the road. Sometimes she chatted with people who lived in them, but not always, only if they wanted to talk and the air smelled friendly.