Joanne that looks deciduous I say, lying about her brunch leftovers. Delicious I mean. Thank you it’s from The Oyster House where I went with Marty this weekend. She is using our microwave to warm it up. My pen won’t reach the carbon copy no matter how hard I force it. The stack is so thin because no one puts their kids in dance class during the summer.
I melted the fish she says. It’s ooze now, and I gag when she says this. They get all their herring from the Cape, I swear to god they have the best brunch outside of the city. God damnit I forgot we have to return the Rug Doctor, let’s do that, Joanne says.
This is a dead pen, I say, and I hate that Stop & Shop. It’s so dirty.
You know I heard a guy was begging Katheryn Pelletier for money there and followed her outside to her car? I lock my doors in that part of town. I do it, everyone does. But it was the only place that had an actual steam cleaner can you believe that? She plays with the angle of a fan which creeks at her touch like it is very sick. Most parents right now are showing their children Barcelona or how to kayak in glacial runoff.
Our carpets are cleaned twice a year. She uses an extension cord to plug the machine in. Those eggs are sitting strange with me. Joanne rigs it at the tack strip. Paul Feinstein and his daughter are early for their class. Hi Amelia, I say, did you have fun in Brussels. Yes, she says.
I open the window and reposition the fan. Joanne is throwing the heavy cord of the steamer around. She flips it on and she is making a high pitched sound. What is that, she says. I turn to see a chocolaty ooze crawling out from the canister. It is reflected in each mirror. Paul Feinstein swoops his daughter up, covering her face with his palm.
It’s just gushing out nonstop. Turn it off, I tell her and she does not remember how she turned it on. She yanks the cord out of the wall but it is gaining territory on the hardwood planks, seeping into each gap. The door opens and Lucy Vasserbelt walks in with her mom but her mom is on the phone and she walks right through it. Mrs. Vasserbelt, I say, Mrs. Vasserbelt please stop. She is tracking it onto the carpet with her sandals and has just started to notice something is wrong.
It stops growing, having reached its final form as a slice off the surface of a very deep and awful pond. Mrs. Vasserbelt looking terrified of her own footprints.
Is it blood? I say. Joanne is still yelling and burping. All at once we recognize a place we thought was very far away.
Yes, I think it is, she says. All of it.
Travis Dahlke’s writing has appeared in Structo, Noble/Gas Qtrly, formercactus, Sporklet, and The Tishman Review among other places. He also has a novella with Otherwhere Publishing.