Return Margaret came back home as Faye with tufts of copper hair and a cherried thrift shop dress.
She gives me back my shirt. While I work, she retraces her DC steps with only Guatemalan change rattling her purse.
I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night or came home without the smell of coffee grounds and bleach twisted into my hair.
I press my thumb into her arm, cream blending newer bronze. Faye tells me it was summer everywhere she went.
It’s 10 PM when a deaf girl orders a double espresso. We hesitate, our hands waving – hers with motions she knows I can’t understand, mine full of apologies.
I smile, scrambling for paper and a marker to write the price and worrying, What the hell is five dollar card minimum in sign language? I stupidly call her drink out, words slowing into my palm.
Later, when we’re scrubbing grounds off the espresso machine, Salem asks me, “Do you ever look in the mirror when you’re on the phone and remember you’re a real person?”
I can’t answer; my mind is stuck on two women I just saw kissing on the patio. Tongues rattling with foreign consonants, fingers tracing unfamiliar ink – strangers touching in a way that says I love you, don’t leave me. I can’t
understand your last name.
Tonight Salem blends overripe bananas and vodka
telling me stories about Babel. All I remember from church is banging my nice red shoes against the back of the pew. My sister and I had to sit still
while everyone else received their wafers. Salem thinks we all have multiple soulmates, and when we meet one there’s a sparking connection and you feel like you’ve lived
all your lives together, but Salem speaks Amharic. She travels. Her dad matters in Ethiopia. Her name means peace and slips from Solemn to Salem to Shalom.
Eve Kenneally is a Bostonian (ish) and first-year MFA student excited to be out West. Interests include writing, walking, and whiskey.