Pictures in a Pig N' Pancake

The table suddenly slips, warping into a muddy bend. Flecks in the linoleum melt, a grey river swallowing my coffee mug like quicksand. I reach for a knife and the metal seems wet but I can’t imagine how that happened. Suddenly everything feels wet and rain falling against the window starts to seep through the glass, puddles dripping onto our plastic booth.

I blink hard and look up at Sarah. Her blond hair begins swinging windmills and her chin curls in towards her eyebrows. The kaleidoscope geometrics are back and I look down at the salad in front of me, trying to hold onto the waxy knife.

We’re in a Pig ’N Pancake. This is not one of my finer moments.

The waitress brings out our chicken tenders. The plates look like clocks from a Dali painting. They fold and sway over our waitress’s arm, but, miraculously, nothing slips off.

“Smile,” Sarah says, holding up her phone to take a picture of the both of us.

y intestines twist, Medusa, snagging against my ribs, shoelace knots around my stomach. I can’t eat.

“I can’t eat,” I say out loud.

“She just put the food down.”

“I can’t eat,” I repeat.

“Ma’am,” I flag down the waitress. “Can I get a box?”

“I just put your food down,” the waitress says, looking confused.

Maybe it’s the Pig ’N Pancake but I don’t feel great. More than my stomach; I loop. I guess I came here to find something, probably not God but maybe some talking trees. Instead I’m just watching faces melt.

The photo of us is still open on Sarah’s phone. In the picture the whites of Sarah’s eyes look like they’re bleeding. Red-pink pools swelling and sinking in her yellow cheeks. I’m posed next to her. My hair hangs heavy, breathing tangles on my temples. I can’t look at the picture anymore.

Sarah’s hands shake as she tries to lift her cup. Coffee spills onto her plate, swimming with her chicken and fries. She swallows fries in three—little boats tipping down her tunnel-throat. I move food one at a time from my plate into the cardboard to-go box, worried that if I try to grab more than thing at a time I might knock something over.

We pay and I drop bills that float in green waves to the table.

The way to the beach house is a grey streak down a busy highway. I focus on the edges of Sarah which are sharper than the swatches of colors sliding next to us against the road. I can’t feel my legs. Stop for the glowing red hand. Go for the man. I can’t remember if we took a photo.

In the house I want to take a bath. I sit cross-legged in front of the silver mouth and let water spit out against my forehead and shoulders, jiggling the nozzles so the drops scorch and freeze. This tub is huge and I let my skin sluff and settle into the cool porcelain.

I’m numb in the tub, body sunk in blue. I have to keep my heel pressed on the drain or the water might slip out under the house. My phone buzzes and the photo of me and Sarah opens my screen. Hour five; the pixels have stopped moving. I’m not smiling. Sarah has her arm on the table, her sleeve in the ketchup at the edge of her plate. We just look high in a Pig ’N Pancake. And the trees didn’t talk this time.