Author : Jason Frank
She asked for more.
I asked something like, “More? More? It’s all yours already. Look around. Everything, every single thing is yours. The couch decided to settle into a shape that complements your rear, not mine; the curtains, you painted on them, they must be yours; that shelf, it has to be yours since it’s overflowing with knickknacks from your home world; the refrigerator isn’t full of anything I can eat without wincing; even my dog likes you better; the shirt off my back, looks better on you anyway (you did add a sleeve); the air we’re breathing has more sulfur in it than I require (or desire); the house, the sum total of all this, must then be yours. So I’m sorry if I don’t have anything else I can give you right at this very second, okay?
She said a bit more of the tea we were drinking would suffice.
I said… I didn’t say anything. I felt… how could I feel? Nothing I said was technically untrue but the way it came out was wrong, all wrong. I sent my gaze to the floor while I took her cup and kept it down there all the way into the kitchen. I turned the burner back on under the cooled kettle and leaned against the wall. I had to ask myself if I were seriously cracking up. Could it have been the strain of our interplanetary love, the gravity of all those celestial bodies between our home worlds? Could the various pressures have been greater than I thought? I looked out the window so the pot would boil somewhere on this side of eternity.
This wasn’t about her at all. It was about Kat(e)rina. What was it about that woman? The pretentious parenthesis in her name was an early indication that I should hate her, a notion repeatedly supported by her frequent social missteps. Was there anyone in the Center she hadn’t offended? Her social skills were on par with those of a four month old, eyeless Miltumbriate (an analogy that also went some way towards illuminating her fashion sense).
But… there was something about her, something so… human. I mean, sure, I was usually the only Earthtard in my social circle, but that was an inevitable consequence of being accomplished, right? Kat(e)rina represented basically everything that I, and pretty much everyone else, hated about humans.
The kettle was warming to the touch. Was I having a quarter life crisis ten years later than everyone else? It seemed at least possible if not particularly plausible. I hadn’t, after all, done many foolish things thus far in my life. Could all the bad decisions and incorrect impulses I pushed down over the years be building up pressure, forcing their way back to the surface? I was over thinking this like everything else. So what, some stupid girl got a job at the Center and now I was acting stupid. It was nothing. It would pass. Out the window, it looked like the neighbors were all going into seventh stage Vubialt molt together. That was going to be messy.
The kettle was just getting ready to scream when I took it off and refilled our cups. I had a long and complex apology ahead of me so I figured I needed to start pretty soon. She’d probably understand. She knew I was under a lot of pressure at the center and I’m pretty sure she was aware we were at a decisive point in our relationship. This blowup would be forgiven. Something I’d never expect from Kat(e)rina… that bitch.