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©2019 by Prometheus Dreaming

We All Scream

by J Miller

My words could not have been clearer. 

"I know they heard me," I say. "Large, I said. Every time it was the same. Every damn time. Every time I got what I wanted, but not all I wanted, and isn't that like not getting it in the first place?"

Susan is staring out the window, obviously not paying attention to me. "Susan. Susan!" I snap my fingers at her, and she looks at me like she hasn't hear a word I've said, like she just doesn't understand, like the dye is seeping into her roots and rotting out her brain. How can she not understand? I'm her best friend. 

In a way, this is all we have. Each other. Of course, we have our husbands, she has a son and I have two daughters, but it's so hard, so at least twice a week we block everything out and just talk about the terrible things that have happened to us. 

Susan has just finished telling me about how when the new couch she bought at Macy's arrived, suddenly the gorgeous iridescent green was a putrid jade green and now absolutely nothing looks right, from floor to ceiling, and it isn't enough just to get rid of the couch, now she has to gut the entire room; the hardwood, the molding, the fireplace, even the windows. Somehow that putrid green couch made the windows too big to slide open and closed.

“I fight with them every day," she says, ignoring what I was saying. "Slammed my elbow on the what-do-you-call-it? The trim?" 

"I think you call it the trim." 

"No, there's a word for it." 

"I don't know," I shrug and open another bottle of wine. As I struggle to get the cork out, tiny bits break off and crumble into the bottle. It's enough to make you want to scream.

"I don't think you heard what I was saying," I tell her, my voice a little sharper than I mean, still annoyed by the cheap cork. She's staring at the window again like it's the TV.

"Susan!"

She turns to me. I move to sit and catch a glimpse of my blouse in the mirror behind us and turn to look. I look thin, too thin, and it proves my point and I wonder if Susan has noticed. The blouse hangs on me. But my hair is perfect, pulled back to show off the three carat studs I bought myself for Christmas. My makeup, too, is perfect, as always.

"Large." I repeat as I return to my Eames chair.

"Oh, Jesus, Jen, I know." She takes a long sip of her wine and winces. I wonder if she’s aware she’s wearing last year's shoes.

“My words could not have been clearer." 

“And despite what you deserved you only got what you wanted." She makes it sound like an accusation. 

"Well, I wouldn't put it like that. But fair is fair. We all got ice cream. My brothers got more. How is that fair?" 

"Casement." 

"What?" 

"That's what’s..." Susan makes a rectangle in the air with her finger. "That's what's around the window. Casement." 

She's so proud of herself I could choke her. I am her best friend and all she can think about is her own petty problems. 

"Susan, I am talking about something important." 

"It was twenty years ago." 

"Exactly. Exactly. It's been twenty years, and no-one talks about it. They haven't apologized. They won't even admit it. How am I supposed to move on?" 

"You realize you're talking about ice cream," she says, and I want to scream. 

How can she not understand? I look into her blank eyes, ignoring the shiny spot on her forehead. "That's not the point. It's about equality. And ice cream. But, more, equality. Why did I get less?”

"Because you were smaller?" She thinks, running her finger around the rim of her glass. It seems to be an effort for her, thinking.  "Did you finish it?" 

"Not the point." 

"So, you wanted more ice cream than you were going to eat?" 

"Absolutely. Still do." 

"I can understand that." 

Finally, for fuck's sake. "I went for years getting just a little more than I was going to eat. What if I was really hungry?" 

"That's true," Susan agrees. She thinks about it for a moment. "Hunger is a real problem."

I nod. As much as I hate to admit it, Susan is right. Bitch.

About the Author

J Miller is an author, poet, and playwright who currently works in marketing and is pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Wilkes University ('21). He believes in the Oxford comma.