fortune cookie: A Short-Short

What we would do is get drunk at the seedy bar just a block east of my basement apartment, and on the way home we would pick up terrible MSG-infused Chinese food and sit on my living room rug, dissecting the meal with our uncoordinated chopsticks, giggling all the while with drunken fervor.  We saved the fortune cookies for last.  This was a summertime ritual, loaded with meaning while possessing little meaning at all.

One evening, it was sweltering outside; my apartment had no air conditioning, and even the fact that I lived in a dingy basement suite did not deter the heat from clogging up the pores of my living room.  I attempted to open the front and side windows for ventilation without luck.  We ate our drunken Chinese dinner in the pitch-dark, in inebriated hope that the darkness would settle the lingering, settled heat.  I opened my fortune cookie and snorted with laughter into my chow mein.

-Look at this fucking thing, I said. ‘You are both very beautiful, and very stupid.’

-…in bed, he finished.  I looked at him cock-eyed. 

In bed?

-Yeah; that’s what you’re supposed to say, apparently after every fortune.  That, or ‘between the sheets’, or something like that.

-I’ve never heard of that.

-Does your fortune actually say you’re beautiful and stupid?

-YES! Here – look at it!

He leaned in to take my fortune, but his hand clasped my bare knee instead, and we kissed, sprawled out drunkenly on my living room floor, for what little night there was left.  My arms were entangled unexpectedly with his, and my mouth covered his lips and I could feel his tongue, hot and strong inside my lower lip, desperately searching.  It was a rare moment of surprise between us; something we had never done, never thought we would do, and happenstance had written it into our evening. 

Waking up hung over beside your friend, on the floor, your back swept with strawberry-patterned rug burn after a night of insistent kissing, bathed in dusty basement sunbeams, was unpleasant.  We both agreed in our croaking morning voices, as we peeled ourselves off the floor and sat up to examine the mess of tin containers and stuck-on sauce spatters on the table.  So unromantic, I thought. But I didn’t say it, for saying this would make it so.

He adjusted his shirt sleeves and my eyes wandered down his bony arm, half-enrobed in soft, rumpled jersey knit.  I lusted to feel the textures again of both his skin, and of the worn-in cotton between my fingers.  This thought crossed my mind, but there was, afterwards, nothing at all to say.

-You’re wonderful, was the simple closing phrase he chose. 

-You’re wonderful-er, I replied; a typical me-to-him response.

Together, we balled up our garbage and then sauntered towards my apartment door; we lingered momentarily, attempting to let the moment seep into the walls and into the carpet, prior to a faded tinge, a small small voice in the back of my head, drifting steadily and echo-y into the distance.


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