“Icing” by Melissa Bobe

She’d had a cupcake for breakfast every day for the last month. Thick on the icing, more often than not with sprinkles, occasionally filled with sweet cream or more icing. She was starting to have headaches, and thought she should probably switch to eggs or cereal, or even fish like she’d heard they eat in Japan for breakfast. But she’d decided not to blame the cupcakes for the headaches because she’d rather blame him. And she hated fish.

Cupcakes are incorrigibly cheerful. Why shouldn’t she have cheerfulness for breakfast, at least for as long as it took? She wasn’t watching her figure. Since she could barely bring herself to eat anything else throughout the day, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

She’d started wearing pink, too, and not soft tones like peony or lilac. Magenta. Fuchsia. Hollywood cerise. Barbie-shoe pink. Electric bubblegum pink. Pink like fury. Pink like she meant it. Pink like I’m ready to hurt somebody. Pink like my heart’s not bleeding, it’s broken. Pink: I’ll never be the same.

This change in style had startled her friends. She didn’t generally wear pink, never mind in shades of neon and shine. She’d had to assure them it wasn’t a quarter-life crisis, which was likely a lie, told in words unpredictable as the clothes she wore.

She’d had a dream about him again. They bumped into each other. He looked well. He was with another woman: plain and uninteresting, but she made him happy because next to her, he knew he could shine. Then, her dream-mind left her dream-body and she saw the whole thing floating from above. He was starting to lose his hair, but in places the rest of the world would notice before he did, just as he’d be the last to realize the problem wasn’t with her or her cupcakes.

But you can’t solve other people; you can only dream of them and their thinning hair. As she looked at him, so content, she saw herself getting somehow smaller and closer all at once; it was like that trick they use in horror films to make the walls seem like they’re closing in, even though nothing is really moving. And something was about to happen. But she woke up before it could.

She licked the last bit of icing off the wrapper and threw it onto the pile. Her trash was almost exclusively cupcake wrappers and grounds-caked coffee filters. It smelled disgustingly sweet, and every time she opened the lid to throw away another wrapper, she felt the cupcake she’d just eaten rise in her stomach. Sometimes icing-infused bile burned the base of her throat, and she’d remember gagging silently while going down on him, not wanting to ruin his experience; he’d never looked down to notice. She wasn’t sure whether to finally take the trash bag to the curb, though it was less than half-full, or to drop it off at an art museum: Sculpture No. 3, “Backwash – organics and paper wrappers on plastic.”

On the walk to work it threatened to rain, but like everyone, the weather had no follow-through. She was amazed, still, that she could walk a mile and a half on coffee and cupcake alone. What did that say about that food pyramid they teach you in school? I see your proteins on produce on grains…and raise you cupcakes. Eat it and weep.

She passed a beauty parlor and noticed a poster on the door: “Vajazzle!” Something made her stop in her tracks, disrupting other passersby as they had to move around her. Maybe it was the giant image of a woman’s waxed, blinged-out pubis. Or maybe the bright pink shine of the rhinestones.

Suddenly, she was in the dream again. She descended from the position above her own head. As she entered her body once more, she saw that, plain as the girl who’d replaced her was, he still had no shine, no bright light with which to dim this new woman at his side. Settled back in herself now, she opened her mouth to announce this revelation of his dullness, and bright pink icing came pouring out of her, neon bile splashing all over him. He was starkly bland by contrast.

She blinked, almost smiled, and pulled out her cell to call in sick to work as she walked forward into the beauty parlor.

 


Melissa Bobe is a fiction writer living in Queens, New York. She received her MFA in creative writing from CUNY Queens College, and is finishing a PhD in literature at Rutgers University. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Microfiction Monday Magazine, and Steel Toe Review. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress @abookbumble.

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