Kendall comes home from work at five, takes off her winter coat, takes off her shoes, smiles at me, washes her hands, eats a banana and half a chocolate bar, pours herself a glass of water, sits down next to me on the couch, and puts her glass of water on a coaster. She kisses me.
“You know I drink eight gallons of water every day,” she says with such certainty.
Sometimes she can believe even the most impossible things.
“You definitely don’t.” Surely, that would be impossible.
“Yes I do! Don’t say that.”
She unfolds an old thin, blanket she keeps next to the couch, and drapes it over her legs. She has no tan line, but her legs seem to get gradually whiter from her ankles to her hips. The blanket is black and has rows of white paw prints on it. It is too small for either one of us. I bought her a quality throw at Macy’s when she first moved into her apartment, but she keeps it in the closet. “It’s too nice to have out,” she says. After all, one of us could spill on it, and I sometimes spill.
“I think maybe you mean eight bottles of water a day.”
“No,” she says, taking a long drink from her glass, as if to prove something, then pressing it back into the coaster, and looking seriously at me, “I usually drink around eight gallons of water a day.”
There are fifteen coasters in her apartment. I know there are fifteen because every time I don’t use one I am reminded that there are fifteen. You’d think considering the rarity with which I use coasters in my own apartment, my furniture would be covered in water rings (I don’t think I have ever seen stained wood.)
She makes me take my shoes off at the door, and won’t let me unload the dishwasher out of fear that I won’t put the dishes in their correct spot. (Dishes do not have an inherently correct spot.) And she always washes the dishes right after we eat.
But, once a week she eats a pomegranate for breakfast. I never know what day she’ll choose, but it is always my favorite day. She accepts, for at least fifteen minutes every week, chaos. I read once that Eve actually ate a pomegranate and not an apple. Even if it isn’t true, I’d like to believe that.
“When I told Baron that I drink eight gallons of water a day, he made fun of me,” she says. She tries to pull the paw-print blanket up to her neck, without exposing her feet to the cold air, but she can’t. The blanket is small.
“I don’t like Baron,” I say.
“Exactly! Neither do I.”
“Why is he even talking about how much water you drink?”
“Because I was drinking from my large Smart Water bottle. You know the type?”
“I think I do.” She drinks from it every day.
“Well, he said something about how big it was, and how I must be constantly running to the bathroom.”
“That’s a weird thing to say.”
“I do go to the bathroom a lot at work, though.”
“He still shouldn’t be commenting on how much you urinate.”
“It isn’t like that.”
“Well it is.”
“Anyway, that’s when I told him I drink eight gallons of water a day. And he pretty much told the whole office. And everyone was laughing at me. Even Shelly.” Kendall’s nose is still red from the cold, and the freckles that cover each side of her nose in the summer have all but faded.
“Baron is very annoying.”
I try to focus on what we agree on. I can’t exactly concede that she drinks eight gallons a day (I just can’t), but I’d prefer not to be grouped with Baron. Any time I have visited Kendall at her office he has called me Danny, instead of Bennett.
“Do you still want to go to the movies tonight?” she asks shyly.
“I’d like to. If you would,” I say. I am relieved the subject has been changed.
“It’s cold outside.” She sits up, and folds one leg under the other, then drapes the blanket over herself. She finally fits entirely under it, but it is taut, and she doesn’t look comfortable.
“We don’t have to go.”
“No I want to,” she says. She smiles a small smile, and I know we aren’t going to the movies tonight. She puts on the TV for ambient noise as we talk about her day, and her sister, and her mother, and my day, and my family. And we talk about getting a puppy, a husky puppy. The conversation eventually quiets, and then ends, so we watch the TV, and slowly Kendall falls asleep. I wake her up three times, before she finally, sleepily, agrees to go to bed. We lie side by side underneath her enormous beige blanket, and sleep. Do you remember that beige blanket? It was the only blanket we could ever find big enough to fit us both.
Header photograph: By Ananyaalien (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons