Kristen M. Ploetz

Bitter Pills

By the time Minah and Pet arrived at Eradication Partners, LLP, they’d already completed the easy part of splitting their marital assets. To each: six silver-plated demitasse spoons (though they were both tea drinkers, the only thing left in common by the end), four juice glasses (enough for impromptu brunches in temporary apartments during the rebound phase), two sets of queen sheets (Pet ran cold and took the flannel; Minah, the Percale—her core temp, like her baseline impatience, was fueled by nuclear fission), one Dachshund, one hunter green Adirondack chair (their monogram on the front seat slats to be sanded smooth at a later date), and five albums by The Clash.

      When things were indivisible, they haggled like weary buyers and sellers on a hot day at the flea. Tears were shed. Feelings were hurt. Minah got the camera (it helped that the photographic record of their twelve-year marriage lacked evidence of her existence except for two honeymoon photos and that time at Jason’s BBQ last August). Pet got the vintage Weber (he liked grilled peaches but she couldn’t stomach anything charred, including the indelible marks left by “The Vulture” on the carrion of their marriage). Five forks and four knives for her, four forks and five knives for him (they only let their guards down to laugh when they remembered what happened to the tenth setting). They donated the yellow canoe to the boys’ camp across the pond but each kept an oar as some kind of metaphoric reminder of their breakdown.

      But since they couldn’t agree on how to cleave the memories of their sex life—what to keep, what to share, what to burn down—the judge ordered them to consult with Eradication Partners. How else to divide the exhilaration of firsts (like the time on their new kitchen table or in the neighbors’ pool or when they got too drunk with Rae and Brandon while camping)? How else to tear along the perforated line of learned preferences (harder in the middle of the month) and erogenous zones (the inside of her thigh, the top curve of his right ear) and ways to make each other scream (blindfolds and dirty words nobody thought they’d know)? And so it was that they were forced to yield to the compound pharmacy of Eradication Partners where the laws of passion could be distilled down into an easy to swallow pill that would erase all they knew. It was better this way, they agreed.

      Minah arrived first, Pet ten minutes later. She held the door for him, and he pulled out her chair. On the table, two blue pills, two glasses of water, and two paper napkins.

      Toast.

      Swallow.

      Wipe.

      Hug.

      Minah left first, Pet two minutes later. As he passed through the door, he tongued the pill still inside his cheek and saw Minah’s napkin at the bottom of the wastebasket, a tiny arc of blue peeking out from the fold.

 


 

Kristen M. Ploetz is a writer and former attorney living in Massachusetts. Her recent short fiction has been published (or is forthcoming) with FIVE:2:ONEjmww, Gravel, Hypertext Magazine, Lost Balloon, The Hopper, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a YA novel and a collection of short stories. You can find her on the web at www.kristenploetz.com and Twitter (@KristenPloetz).

 


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