With my extra-small hand cramping up again, and a really patient smile on my softer than soft face, I close my spiral-bound notebook and slowly, slowly stand up. Then I slowly twirl away from my desk, my window, and slowly tippy-toe over to my twin-sized cot. Gentle as can be I plop myself down and lean back against the peeling strips of yellow wallpaper. My eyes closed— totally closed. My twitching button nose like the only thing hinting at how antsy I’m feeling right about now. How ridiculously excited. Because my really Polish, really successful parents are supposed to be stopping by soon. And I’ve just been itching and itching to show them my blossoming ego. I wanna show them all the mediating flowers. All the rational fruit . . .
I straighten my back against the wall and just breathe. I just breathe. I just breathe and let it all go, go . . .
A burst of restlessness pricks my eyelids open. I blink. I blink twice and swivel my darling head round and round my smaller than small room. Trying my very best to keep this really patient smile on my face I pick up one of the self-help books that They want me to read. To study and incorporate into my daily routine. I lick the tip of my index finger and start flipping through the anemic faces, through the peer-reviewed articles which pinky swear that a size 8 waist, and a disciplined approach to the task at hand—whether it be eating, walking, or working on your tan—will invariably lead to professional success, to metaphysical contentment, and will of course, without a doubt, lead to a very comfortable bank account. I nod. I nod twice and recite my recommended mantra. A confident flush to my cheeks I tell myself that all I have do is stay the course, keep to the middle path—avoid unsustainable extremes at all costs. But as soon as my lips whisper the words, the sensible words, I nudge my mind back over to the desk, to the window, and drop it twentysomething stories down below to where the really fun wild things wallow. Because all I wanna do is jump back on that vacillating mudslide. On the one that meanders between lifestyles. The one that swerves on a dime between slums and Rockefeller mansions. Because all I wanna do is get wet . . .
With a yearning sigh I lift my doll eyes and look across at my flatscreen friend’s totally black face. I bite my lower lip and wish we could play with each other some more. Even though I know They definitely won’t let us. Not today. The bastards . . . Huffing, puffing, huffing I lie down on my cantaloupe core, cross my superlong legs, rest my chinny chin chin on my extra-small fist, then flip and flip and flip through the obnoxiously optimistic pages. Totally wishing I had a computer right about now. Or a smartphone. Or a vibrator. Totally wishing I could just go online right about now . . .
Way too pensive, way too horny to read I frown and hiss and toss the patronizing manual down on the glossy floor. Because what the hell is taking my parents so long! Like what could possibly be holding them up—traffic? I mean is there some sort of highway-clogging exodus going on down there, a statewide panic attack brought on by an outbreak of Ebola in the suburbs, the death toll already in the thousands and climbing, the Pentagon staging a televised press conference and declaring this an obvious case of bioterrorism on American soil, initial investigations suggesting the virus may even be of Chinese origin and might only be the first wave of an anti-Western epidemic, tactical countermeasures already being taken, martial law declared in all fifty states, gas masks distributed, dusk till dawn curfew enforced, patriotic families hugging, crying, praying, a 24/7 Internet blackout put into effect as ballistic missiles are armed, countdowns initiated, false flags ordered and raised . . . Is that what’s going on out there? Is that why my parents are taking so long to get here? . . . Well either way I just hope they don’t bail on me again. I’ve been like seriously planning this reunion out for weeks. Right down to the seating arrangement. I know exactly how it’ll all play out. Because the second my parents get here I’ll leap off my twin-sized cot and smooth out all the wrinkles in my whiter than white gown. Then I’ll smile my very best good girl smile and offer them each a plastic cup of water. Because I know Daddy will definitely want some, but Mommy will probably say No—No thanks, Zoe . . . The cup level with his heart Jozef will then go stand stoically in the corner with his head turned to the side in sharp sullen profile, not looking at us, definitely not wanting to be here, just staring out the window and taking long nervous gulps. He’ll probably mumble about the weather or the Dow Jones while the always elegant Mrs. Miriam Dreamstein sits down beside me on the bed, one trembling hand on my knee, one trembling hand sponging up her lavender tears . . . Then, once we’re all settled, once we’re all ready to share, I’ll start off with a really lame joke on how not having any high-speed Internet access has like seriously disconnected my libido. HA! But I obviously won’t get any laughs, and Mommy will bite her lips and put her arm round and round my shoulder, Daddy cringing in the corner, not too thrilled to be here, rather be out doing something, anything, anything but this . . . Oh boy, oh jeez, it’ll definitely be nothing but awkward sighs and sentimental shudders in this American pastoral. In this room with an oh-so-beautiful city view . . .
Squeezing my softer than soft face back into a really patient smile, I uncross my superlong legs and roll off my cot. Then I tippy-toe over to my plastic desk and plop myself down. I pick up my #2 pencil, slowly open my spiral-bound notebook. Because I guess I might as well try my very best to make some progress while I wait for my parents to get here. I guess I might as well sit at my desk and slather on another big fat layer of cream-cheesy impressions all over this doughy and centerless, crispychewy and sweet-and-sour, mimetic bagel which like always seems to leave a tangy, what-does-it-all-actually-mean aftertaste at the back of my teeny-weeny tongue. Oh yes, oh my, I guess I might as well just do a little bit of that till my parents get here . . .