By Katie Burgess
This online quiz says I’m a pair of Keds. I’m also a Carrie, a Hufflepuff, a S’mores Pop-Tart, the former planet Pluto, the letter “q.” I remember Miss Peeler, my eleventh grade English teacher, always telling us that the unexamined life was not worth living, and I like to think she’d be proud of me now, just how examined my life is.
I know which K-pop song I am, which board game, which pizza topping. I answer each question based on my immediate gut feeling, to make sure my results are accurate. For example, if I let myself stop and think, I might be tempted to say “B) A night at the theater,” for the question “What’s your ideal first date?” Because I do like going to plays, and I feel slutty giving my real answer, which is “C) Netflix and chill.” Which I don’t even prefer for slutty reasons, but because I like having things be comfortable, without all the dressing up and small talk. And all right, the slutty part isn’t so bad, either.
I hadn’t had any of that, theater or Netflix, in a long while, which I guess is how it happened. Not that I blame my circumstances for my actions. When Rick, my boss at the deli, made those flirty jokes, I knew what he was doing. And when I texted to say, “Drinks tonight?” I knew what I was doing, too.
I’d met Shelly, his wife. I liked her. That’s the part that gets to me the most.
Or second most.
She came in sometimes to get a black coffee, and we’d chat about whatever she was reading—mostly punk rock memoirs. If we’d been in high school together, she would have been the girl I admired but who was a little too edgy to hang out with me. She’d be a Wild! Watermelon Pop-Tart. She’d be the planet Venus. The letter “x.”
She had the kids in the back seat when she ran Rick over. That’s all I can think about, no matter how much I try to not think at all. Those babies were buckled into their car seats as they felt the bump-bump of tires rolling over their dad.
Sometimes I dream that she shows up at my door, hair wild, eyes glowing. “What kind of person does that?” she wants to know, and in the dream I’m never sure if she means him or her or me. I try to ask, but I can’t. I wake myself up making these creepy hissing sounds, trying to say words.
What kind of a person am I? I can tell you exactly. A daisy. Princess Ariel. Breakfast for dinner. A day at the beach. Bubble gum.
Katie Burgess’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Smokelong Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her flash collection, Wind on the Moon, is available from Sundress Publications.