A fat black raccoon falls, plunges dives into the compost bin. You let him. Why shouldn’t he have a little pleasure. A little oil and vinegar, a little dry cake. Everyone has been baking, so there are no more poppyseeds. Should you plant a field of opium, so you can make the lemon muffins that you like. Is this insanity. Is it too much. Your friend is called Nada which means nothing or naked or hope. She writes her bad thoughts, you write yours. She shampoos her body. You are taking classes on emotional intelligence. You are hoping to have more emotional control. Think of your sister, he says and your nose rips open. Is it a threat or a reward. It is both. Your sister is a doctor, works in a hospital where the sick people go. You think of her and scrape your fingernail across those rogue bumps on your skin. You release little seeds, little hairs. You uncurl them, crush them straight. Don’t pick that, it’s a heat rash. Do you wish you were a doctor. Or do you just wish what you did was as good and important. You have never liked blood or people. All love is conditional. There are reasons you would turn your back on anybody. The raccoon is stuck. You are sure of it. If an animal is wild, do you trust them to be alone. You like a sunburn. It helps remind you (I am alive and spring is with me). You watch youtube videos of women working out, you emulate them. You do not push myself too hard. Close enough. You judge the curve of their hips, the width of their waists. Are they pretty enough. Do you trust them. You have had a stupid thought. Your birthday will be cloistered in this era of nothing. You will be 26 and it will be lost. Are these the best years of our lives. Not so far. Not so much. If this is the best you will ever be, ever look, ever smell, shouldn’t you be out there showing people. How long will we be here, inside. You have seen your parents in the nude too often and too recently. You share bathwater. You call them the infantile baby names which put people off their food. Dada Daddy Mama Mummy. It disgusts your friends. You don’t know how to stop. You go look at the raccoon. He is covered in orange pulp. He is rotten angry. Are you afraid, you ask him. He screams. You scream back.
KARI TEICHER writes fiction, poetry, and complains. She has her MFA at the University of Victoria and Herba at the University of King’s College. She was a finalist in the Fiddlehead’s Fiction Contest 2020, Room Magazine’s Poetry Contest 2019, longlisted for the CBC Short Story prize 2018, longlisted for CV2’s Young Buck Poetry Prize 2018, winner of Saltern Magazine’s Short Forms Contest 2017. Her work has been published with Prism International, Event Magazine, The Puritan, Room Magazine, Canthius, and others. Kari lives in Toronto with her kitten named Chicken, and works in communications and production. She is at work on her debut novel about Snag, Yukon.