By: Bluford Birdsong
Jill shuts down the treadmill after running three eight minute miles, proud of herself and thankful for a couple of hours alone. Still panting, she opens the stainless steel door of the new fridge and grabs a blue shaker bottle of branch-chain amino acids. The Tahitian Punch flavored drink cools her off. She winces a bit at the acrid taste, looks back at the bottle and thinks it must taste better in Tahiti.
Coldplay’s “Yellow” blasts in her earbuds, a Pavlov response is triggered. Instead of slobbering like a dog, she just becomes annoyed, again. She grabs her phone and skips past the song. She wasn’t a Coldplay fan 15 years ago when the band was relevant, certainly not now, but Jon loves them, and she loves Jon, probably.
This living together thing is new to both of them. Not walking on eggshells exactly, more like working together to move a large dresser through a room full of sleeping babies, something like that. The point is she and Jon are feeling their way to the safe and proven path of peaceful cohabitation.
As the cool from the open fridge chills Jill’s forearm, she sees a small square see-through container glowing in the bluish light. It’s the kind of container that snaps shut with little plastic buttons, but never really snaps shut all the way. The kind of container that leaks sushi, kimchi or some other cute Asian food into the reusable shopping bag you were so proud of at the checkout stand because it screamed environmentally conscious. It was that kind of container.
The container held small, crisp chunks of pineapple, uniformly cut. An ordered collection of puzzle pieces, the symbolic fruit of a welcoming home and hearth. The container was adorned by a pink sticky note, neat block print, “Jon’s Thanks,” a smiley face for punctuation.
“Jon’s, thanks?” Jill pulls the pineapple out and looks at it, opens the container and takes a piece.
“Jon’s thanks?” She says aloud, again.
She notices a wave of panic coming on. Jill’s had a dozen or so of these episodes since signing the lease with Jon three weeks ago. Are they moving too fast? Is he the one? She wonders for a moment whether the cardboard boxes are still in the hall, just in case.
“Jon’s, thanks? Am I your lover or your roommate, Bro?” She says in her best imitation of a frat boy.
She wonders what’s next? Are they going halfsies on some pizza and beer?
She looks around the kitchen and next to the coffee maker sees the plastic i.d. badge with Jon’s smiling face on it. Checker at the hardware store. He’s not even handy, but picked up the part time job for the Summer to earn some extra cash.
He wants to take her to Italy. “It’s amazing” he tells her, and “I want to see your face when you try a Margherita Pizza in the place it was invented.”
Jill regrets eating the pineapple. She presses the lid back on listening for the reassuring snap, snap. She grabs a thick black Sharpie and doodles a small heart next to Jon’s smiley-face and sticks the note back on the container, and smiles.
She shuffles the music on her phone and finds Coldplay’s “Yellow” and gives it another listen.