by Megan Grumbling



We’d all had sightings, the odd ghost of her gold or green in otherwise cold. But we were
always alone; we chalked it up to our own vision or intoxication. Our desire. Our
paranoia. Now, we were seeing her together, crowding close to watch her suck an ice
cube small or lose a stocking in the surf. That was when things began to change. The
mood. Something about our mouths. The way we spoke her name, swallowed all we
could see to swill.


Schlitz all morning, sangria all afternoon. It was too hot to work, or else too cold, so we
drank with her. The most homage we could muster anymore. Too hot for lust, let alone
love. Or else too cold. And what a weird mood she set, wetting us down with halved
lemons, rubbing our faces with her ten fingers each sunk into an olive. There were more
lemons, more olives than anyone knew what to do with. Then, just as suddenly, none, and
not even warm water to drink. Not even ice. We were eating so much tapenade, drinking
so many shandies – then thirsting so hard – that we began to feel queasily cured from


Her mother, of course, had long since been put in the home. Numb to her daughter’s
sprees. Or else enraged. She was heavily medicated, of course. But it was for her own
health. For the greater good. Her clinicians may have fumbled a dosage or played a little
loosely with the samples, with the pinker pills, but we were sure they knew what they
were doing. A putty-colored room, a watercolor print of cornucopias.


She started telling some of us, sober and in all sincerity, that she had found a way to
revirginize herself. We doubted it, we knew better. So although we found ourselves
following her recipes anyway, rinsing our own sheets in rosewater or charcoal slurry,
we couldn’t be sure whether we rinsed out of sympathy, dread, or just some kind of crude
magical thinking.