Before the World Came to an End We Shopped for Shower Curtains
Flash fiction by Veronica Klash
Four months ago we were at Ikea. Looking at shower curtains. Arguing about shower curtains. What I wouldn’t give to be back there, in that place where I was galled by your insistence that plaid was an acceptable pattern. In that place where lunch, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, at The Noodle Man was ordinary. A crowd collected around the doorway, some eyed the dwindling dishes on our table. I slurped down the last noodle in haste, feeling too guilty to linger in the savory satisfaction of the thick brown sauce.
When we got home you hung up the symbol of our compromise. I wanted something aquatic, something that would transform the desert of our lives into an oceanic expanse. Behind that curtain I would’ve pretended that the water cascading down my back came from somewhere other than a manmade lake surrounded by arid hills. Somewhere deep and ancient, hidden from the human eye. There would be smiling fish and colorful coral.
But instead we settled on horizontal stripes and I pretended not to care. I pretended not to care when we made love that afternoon. I pretended not to care at breakfast the next day, and the day after that. And the week after that. And the month after that. I pretended not to care that we’ve been here before, in this place where what I want doesn’t matter. In this place where your opinion is fact and mine is frivolous.
Three months ago we were in the living room. You talked about both of us going to the grocery store, together. I didn’t see the point. I talked about both of us wearing masks at the grocery store, together. You didn’t see the point. You used words like resorts and fun while scrolling through jet-ski rentals. I used words like respirators and flatten while scrolling through tutorials that turned fabric shapes into fabric shields. You made breakfast, whistling into the fridge while searching for eggs. I made due, screaming into a pillow while searching for sanity.
Two months ago we had sex. It hasn’t happened since. I stopped making excuses. You stopped asking.
I’m too disgusted with our bodies. Too disgusted with our minds. With humanity. With how we insist on ignoring history, willfully repeating our mistakes and atrocities. Ad nauseam. Ad infinitum. We are a blight on this earth. If we all disappeared tomorrow, our planet would be better for it.
One week ago we fought. And you left. You said I’d changed. I shrieked that you hadn’t. Yelled about how it was incredible, in the worst possible way, that you remained unaffected. Once I was alone, I wished out loud for your indifference. I dreamt of your exposed smile in a crowd of unconcerned people. I wanted so, so badly to care about shower curtains again.