He was drinking a Jarritos when they met. From then on: tamarind, mango, pineapple, strawberry. She was converted. He made bottle openers out of countertops and fences. She saw a bloody hand framed by glittery glass every time he raised an arm to smash bottle against ledge. But by some miracle the metal cap popped off, harmlessly clinking on the cement. She eyed his jugular while he drank.
They’d go to punk shows in basements. She felt her heart going off in its holster. During rides home with nothing to say, she read city signs aloud. Sometimes she’d put on accents out of desperation. Taco Burrito Palace Two, Ryan’s Pub, L Store. The storefronts went on and on with nothing new to offer.
At her house they watched TV. On beer commercials the taps were always pouring gold. Glasses constantly toasted to Friday night in America. He instructed her to watch closely. Nobody ever drinks because network guidelines don’t approve. She watched and decided that might be true, but an ad sells beer by teasing out the desire for beer. Watching actor’s throats expand is not as effective as a cold glass sliding across a mahogany bar toward you. The moment before is deliriously delicious. Reality always being a let down. She told him her theory but he wasn’t interested in marketing. It wasn’t about that. She was interested in craving but saying that sounded as appalling as wearing suits and holding a business degree.
The last time he came over, he had his Jarritos. She left the bottle on her dresser. For weeks she dusted around that green glass. Then, overnight, two mushrooms appeared inside the bottle. Twin stinkhorns feeding on sugar and spit. Her hilarious heartbreak is a miniature forest of fruiting bodies, an ecosystem she could carry around on exhibit.
Laurel Shimasaki lives in New Orleans. Her work appears in Salon, Catapult, Hellogiggles, and elsewhere. Image: Bottle Cap Collection, Carlos José, Flickr