by Chelsey Richardson
“I still dream about it you know? The way the air clung to my hair on those …”
Champ, paused to inhale, soaking his chest with the hot steam from the stove.
“Those, what?” Tereasa said, raising her brows.
“Do you want one of these burgers?”
Grease splattered on the stove top like a tiny little rainstorm. Champ flipped his burger concentrating on the pink gummy pool of fat creeping through the flesh of the patty.
“I’m good. Now, what? Elaborate … please.” Tereasa grinned at Champ and pressed her lips together until they turned white.
Champ pushed his right fist into his thigh, opened it, and then held onto the oven door handle.
“I just miss those days when we didn’t watch, and we couldn’t see.”
“You don’t wanna know? That sounds stupid.”
Champ sneered at Teresa and pressed down on the fat clump of meat with a heavy steel spatula.
The afternoon curled up around the two of them. The curtains in the living room waved with a quiet lull. Goosebumps raised on Champ’s fine arm hairs, and they stood at attention. A family of gnats met on the countertop; their wings relaxed after feeding on a raw trail of beef crumbles. Blue light from the television bounced off the living room walls.
Champ squinted at the screen, shook his head, threw it back into the soft couch cushion and balled his fists.
“I’m so done.”
“Yes, we already know what the jury will decide. We’ve seen this story before, and I’m done.”
“Champ, you don’t know, ok?”
He cracked open a can of seltzer water and sucked the fizzy liquid out. He squeezed the can until he crushed it in his palm, cutting his finger on the unforgiving edge of the aluminum. Blood dripped down to his wrist. He licked it off and whimpered.
“Shit!” he cursed under his breath.
“Oh my god. Why are you so clumsy Champ?”
“Why are you so damn rude, and insensitive?”
“Ok,” Tereasa said, nodding with the intensity of a bobble head like people do when they’re ready to slap somebody.
“So, you really don’t wanna know huh? You really don’t wanna watch this. You have the nerve to be completely closed off and oblivious?”
He closed his eyes flirting with the idea of throwing the can at Tereasa’s face.
“Look at this TV Tereasa! Are we ever gonna turn it off? Ever wanna leave this house? Do you think that when they find the asshole guilty, that the sky is going to open up and tiny cherubs with fat butts will appear with trumpets and play the Black National Anthem?”
Tereasa stared at the screen and then back at Champ. She felt her blood boiling first in her feet and then her chest. She palmed her thick curly hair with her right hand looping a hair tie around to make a ponytail.
“My God. Just finish your fucking burger. And then do what you want,” Tereasa said, laughing one of those I can’t win laughs.
“I can’t complain. I can’t refuse, I can’t say anything without you freaking making me feel horrible.” Champ said, smashing the can under his foot.
“Why do you feel horrible?”
He stared at the TV. Felt his stomach tighten and grow tired.
“I don’t feel horrible. I feel tired of watching.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to watch anymore. Don’t you ever just want to watch something grow, or live, or change?”
“I want things to change.”
“Well then go get a burger, put some ketchup on it, and come and sit next me.”
Tereasa exhaled a long soft sigh, glanced over at the stove, walked into the kitchen, and said,
“But didn’t we eat this meat yesterday?”
Chelsey Richardson is a mother, teacher, and acclaimed award-winning poet. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and Master’s in Teaching English Education. She currently works as an educator at Nova Alternative High School in Seattle, WA. Her debut poetry book is titled, All Water Has Perfect Memory.
📸 Featured image: Blogtrepeneur under a Creative Commons license.
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