by Chloe Alberta
Chloe Alberta has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. Her stories and essays are published in Joyland, The Masters Review, Wigleaf, X-R-A-Y, HAD, and elsewhere, and her writing has been recognized with the Henfield Prize and a Hopwood Award. Find her on Twitter: @chloe_alberta.
YOU CAN BUY AND SELL STARS
Her name was Chestnut and she was so fucking stupid. Nevertheless. I wanted to hold her brain in my hands like a hamster. I said Chestnut let me show you something and she kept her eyes closed until I was ready. A whole constellation, just for you! Chestnut said that’s Orion’s belt and I said no, but it looks like that. Turns out there are lots of stars you can make a line out of. I went to a website. $7.99 a pop. Chestnut took my face in her hands and squeezed and said WHAT IF THEY FALL and I said what do you mean and she said WHAT IF YOU BOUGHT ME SHOOTING STARS? My father said never let a girl ask questions and my mother said cherish the curiosity in those you love, this is the primordial quality. So I don’t know what to do here. My mother would just put any words in any order. But my dad was a no-good bitch-ass loser. There’s no way to know how old these stars are, the dull ones I picked. They won’t let me unsubscribe from their email list but they also can’t answer my questions. How old, how dull. IT’S A CRAPSHOOT I say to Chestnut, and then we get drUnk. The Tuesday crosswords are ready to play! It’s too early for us to be drunk, she says, so we tried to sober up by burying our noses in half-peeled clementines. 14-Across, 7-letter phrase for why you need to post a sign when things are risky. And what is the monkey that most resembles humans? The bonobo’s most typical sexual pattern is lateral genital rubbing between females. Monkey sex scientists think the noises emitted during the rubbing indicate orgasm. With Chestnut, it isn’t so easy. Her clit is tucked away. There is scooping involved, and high pressure. CHESTNUT I say ARE YOU CLOSE and she reminds me she is on ANTIDEPRESSANTS. When Chestnut tried to die I sweet-talked the nurse into letting me visit after hours. Chestnut said everything sucks and threw her pillow at me. I said some things are nice. These flowers are nice, I lied. She scoffed and grabbed the glass vase and put a dyed-blue daisy in her mouth. The stem hung out like a mouse tail. I wondered if glass vases should be allowed in here and she saw the thought on my face and knew I’d betrayed her. But for a long time I could only see her face blue like a daisy, rope or pills, even though she swore it was a one time deal. My mother said that about the time she drove to Kansas. And my father said that about the fist on my ear. And what’s a 10-letter word for how few bonobos are left in the world? Chestnut I am waiting for you to come home! I refresh and refresh but still nothing but LIMITED TIME OFFER and STAR STAR STAR BUY STAR NOW so after that I don’t trust stars anymore, too, because how do I know that website didn’t sell Chestnut’s same stars to some other sucker and how do I know if they were so dull we were actually seeing the newer stars behind them? And what if they fall? And what if they’ve already fallen? The pill bottle said no but she kept drinking anyway and I hate to admit I bought her the whiskey because I wanted her to be happy even though my father always said don’t save for tomorrow what you can drink today and my mother said JE VOIS LA VIE EN ROSÉ and I was trying, always trying, to be something different.