Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BROKEN GLASS SMILES

I was laying upside down on the saran wrap bedspread with my feet flat on the ceiling. They were in floppy-soled tennis shoes. Someone had cut the laces while I was asleep on the subway. I was experimenting with my eyes—reversing when they were open and closed—keeping them closed and opening them only briefly, like when a person is normally blinking. Behind me I heard ice cubes clinking in a glass and the wood of the doorframe creaked as though somebody was leaning against it.

“It’s too late, anyway.” Said someone tall behind me. “I don’t think I’m going to bother.” It was a man’s voice. The ice cubes clinked some more and he took a slurpy sip.

I pressed my feet up against the ceiling; the saran wrap crinkled under me. “Do what you want.”

Somewhere far below, a dog barked. They no longer allowed pets in the neighborhood, unless you had had a pet for twenty years and had a special permit. After they had passed some bill that allowed all sorts of genetic engineering and whatnot, pets started living much longer. Mr. Hong, who lived on the 35th floor, had had his little dog for more years than he could count. The old thing was as good as new, though he barked at nothing at all most of the time and had one robotic leg joint. Maybe it was Mr. Hong’s dog barking now. I couldn’t quite tell, but one of my ears was pressed up against my pillow. He kept his pet permit in a greasy laminated card right outside his door, next to a sign that his wife had made that said “Welcome” in a mosaic of human teeth. Mr. Hong was a dentist. I didn’t have a pet, although I guess I could have gone through the trouble of getting one. I had a battered cage in one corner that was programmed to rattle uncontrollably once every hour or so, and each day, it dispensed a couple of ounces of the chemical equivalent of guinea pig urine onto the newspaper lining every day. Sure enough, if I didn’t change it, it would start to stink. I was crumpling up the newspaper one day when I read about the party. The paper was in a language I didn’t know all the way, though I could read a little.

“It should be a really good party.” I told him, without turning around.

“Sure should be.” He said. “But it’s cold out there.”

I agreed and said if he was going to stay home, would he mind pouring me a glass of water too.

1 comment:

katiett said...

Human teeth mosaic!

I want one.