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Cockaigne

Fiction, Greer Ohlsson


I felt I was being punished. I was waitressing, and my friends were going on boats now. They were waitresses too once, but I didn’t have the stomach to listen to old men speak ill of their first wives. I could never convince myself I was scamming men while they consumed my youth like fairytale witches.

A former employee comes into the restaurant, as they sometimes do—with one of these boat-having men—to load up on coffee and appetizers, take two bites of her entrée then box it so she can eat dessert. Namely, the chocolate mousse with orange. She’ll put her leftovers in the fridge next to a half-drank bottle of wine, and complimentary chocolates from whichever hotel the man takes her to. Really, it’s so she has something to eat later in case, for whatever reason, these men aren’t around. They don’t buy you groceries, but they will take you to dinner.

If you saw someone this beautiful, you would never assume they were starving unintentionally, which is partly society’s fault. We tend to associate youth with protection, beauty with wealth, etc. Our job in this whole scheme is to simply believe gorgeous women filling entry-level positions have never-ending money for hair extensions, fifty-dollar lip oil from Sephora, Botox, and whatever else. Don’t inquire. Sometimes these former waitresses bring all their friends to eat on the old man’s dime. After all, it’s a recession.

I’m entitled to my complaints. They tip well, but I prefer the women I don’t know, who were perhaps once waitresses at some other restaurant. The ones who know me always want to talk, which gives their dates permission to stare. They think they can pluck me from here, that working women are just prostitutes in disguise, or until a man makes them so. Even if they don’t want to, they know they can, which fills me with biblical levels of rage. Tiny crescents form in the palm of my hand that are red in the center where my skin almost breaks. Our nails are supposed to be clipped short unless you can afford acrylics. My small rebellion is keeping mine long and painted so they look fake, which the rich men clock at least twice a day, “Your boyfriend doesn’t take you to get your nails done?”

Tom, my manager—an older millennial who has some kind of doctorate in psychological research or something making him grossly over-qualified for his position, calls me away from a particularly grueling round of small talk with the former hostess asking if this is still a shitty place to work. To her date’s discomfort, she recalls a past infestation, asks if Gerry, who is married, still works here, and whispers loudly that she used to have the biggest crush on him even though it was obvious. I hear her whisper to her date as I’m walking away, “What do you think heaven is like?” followed by an eruption of laughter.

Tom yawns into the bend of his arm, red-blonde beard and long forearm hairs meshing together. “Would you mind rounding up those tips with the bar? They’re about to count for the night.”

I grab the broom from where it leans on the wall, letting the bristles drag behind me. My coworkers stand behind the bar in a man huddle. I roll up on my toes to see what they’re hovering over and sigh when I realize it’s a video on one of their phones. The video jumps to another clip and they holler like old-timey soldiers watching a cartoon mouse fall on his face. Nothing makes me feel more alone than seeing what makes others laugh.

***

Outside there is a harsh yellow light casting shadows beneath the staff’s eyes and cheeks. The line cooks put a board together before locking up, which they place on the cigarette table after blowing the ash away like birthday candles. Tom says he’ll take the board home and bring it back tomorrow, not to worry about it. He places the expensive cheese in the center of the wooden slab to a small round of applause then sits on a chair he dragged just outside the light’s reach.

“Good night for tips,” Erin says—the bartender. He looks at me, dark caverns where his eyes usually are. He’s the only other worker in his twenties. All the mophead boys agree, but there is a darkness to the way Erin says it, to the way he looks at me afterward. Those tips are not from him opening and pouring five bottles of wine or fetching me a cup of simple syrup to mix into a woman’s unsweet tea. He is the most critical of our former waitresses, and he looks at me the way their old, rich dates do.

The line cooks descend on the board as Erin breathes through a cigarette, leaning against the wall beneath a vortex of tiny moths swirling into the light. Jacob and Sawyer, a freckled boy north of seventeen, and his cautious, long-haired senior take this as permission to roll up their sleeves.

“I could eat this cheese forever,” Jacob says.

I tuck the length of my hair into the back of my shirt, so it doesn’t touch the food when I lean forward. I see Tom’s phone light up in the corner of my eye. “You’re not going to have any, Tom?”

The corners of his mouth pull down and he shakes his head. “Nah, I’ve had it before. You guys go ‘head.”

No one questions him. I find this an odd statement, as there’s plenty enough for him to have, but I pile the strange-looking cheese onto a cracker and eat it just the same. I am shaken by how fast it goes, how recklessly it is torn apart. In the center of the board, the yellow light reflects blindingly off the waxen sheen as if this dimming flicker of luxury was never there at all.

Tom stands, twisting until there’s a pop. “Alright, I’m heading out.”

When he reaches for the board, Jacob says, “I can wash the board and lock up.”

Tom raises an eyebrow. “Are you sure? You’d have to arrive thirty minutes before your shift tomorrow to open up.” He says this like a parent who is proud of their child for volunteering to do a chore.

Jacob nods quickly, flipping his palm up to receive the keys. I see him go in with the board under his arm, his deep red ringlets absorbing the yellow light as he passes into the dark. I’m the last to drive away.

I drive past my old apartment that went up six hundred in rent in one year before leaving the city and traveling thirty minutes to my new one. After the skinny iron steps leading up to the desolate hallway, leading up to my door, I plunge the key into the lock and stumble into my dark kitchen. I set my stuff on the counter from memory and feel around for the chain until the cold beads hit my palm.

It’s not quite a lone, hanging bulb. It’s an Edison bulb, with a partial skirt in a mock Tiffany pattern, that is a few shades warmer than bleak white. My kitchen is exactly as I left it, with Grandma’s strawberry mugs all lined up near the white Mr. Coffee machine with a matching strawberry sugar bowl and a little, wooden spoon poking out, an old, pink robe tacked over the window because my only other curtain is lace, and I sometimes catch my creepy neighbor peering inside. I wipe my counters to the point of obsession, zero particles or smears visible even when I sway to see the light hitting them from different angles. I even mop the ceiling though it never looks clean because the previous tenants smoked inside. I fix everything within my control and walk hugging the walls like a rat, so I never muddy the parts of the floor that reflect the light.

I collapse in the spindle-backed chair under the light, letting my upper body sprawl onto the table. I take in air as if coming up from a dive, open my eyes to the matching empty chair my boyfriend sits in when he’s over, where he’ll sit tomorrow night, and where I sometimes imagine a baby even though I don’t want kids. For now, there’s something of a ghost baby there, eating mush carrots and looking at me like he needs something.

I pull my phone out and open Instagram because I’m too tired to scroll in bed. It’s fourteen steps from the kitchen, not counting the little circles I spin getting undressed, habitually tossing my clothes then compulsively retrieving them because they scream from the floor if I don’t.

A family friend posts her baby eating a small, round cake with a yellow, number one candle poking out from the center. I scroll through eight nearly identical pictures of the taupe birthday party until a short video plays at the end, of the baby mistakenly eating some of the candle, their little teeth etching tiny canals into its wax before the grownups all shout and the baby cries. Scroll. An old friend posts her Venmo, her car needs a new starter. I feel righteous and helpless. Scroll. The twins I used to babysit are starting their second year of high school. Like. Scroll. The girl that used to make her Ken doll rape my Barbies is starting a private monthly-fee account, and she dyed her hair black.

Just as I’m having my fig tree moment, I see the thing no woman wants to see—my boyfriend’s username, amongst the sea of boyfriend usernames, like the clipboard at the pound, or the lake of Acheron. His name and a small circular photo of him in sunglasses directly beneath her pale breasts as if he’s taking a strap-on from her. I click his profile, go through his following, find his friend, and like three pictures of that friend’s car in a row, then send a text, “Weird, some men’s hairlines are receding yet their following keeps going up?”

Anthony texts me back immediately. “I don’t know why you’re being abusive.” A moment later, “What did I do now?”

“I’m turning my phone off,” I say, but I don’t. I send a nefarious text to an old contact, then set ten alarms only minutes apart. I grab the remote and the second half of the Vivien Leigh movie from last night starts playing as I sink into my pillow.

When Anthony and I first started dating, we bonded over old films, specifically Vivien’s. I used to wish for pale skin and blue eyes. I wanted to look just like her growing up, with raven black hair and dainty features that all seemed to blend together like they were resting on a cloud.

I have a peasant’s tan, plus my eyes are far apart and hazel, wide nose with a bump, blunt cheekbones, long jaw, dark lips, and my hair’s just a few shades cooler than my skin. I’m also a little taller and thinner than most men prefer women, which I don’t have the class privilege to ignore, but my marketable flaws have gotten me modeling gigs here and there. People either find me beautiful or hideous, which is always more attention than I’m comfortable with. Sometimes I think about what I’d do, what spells I’d cast, or which people I’d be comfortable sacrificing to which god if it would transform me into the regular, objective kind of pretty, with the sort of conventional features that could fit in any era—like Vivien, or my childhood friend, the Instagram woman. There is privacy in that kind of pretty. Then people would quickly glance and move on instead of staring until they’ve made their decision, instead of bullying as a coping mechanism for their attraction.

All of the women whose photos Anthony likes resemble Vivien in some way or other. I turn the TV off and push back the grief. I’ll miss falling asleep to her voice, and I wonder who he’ll take next.

I open my eyes to midday and find myself calm despite the same set of facts looming in the air, along with remnants of my dream, where Anthony and the Instagram woman slept together. I go to text Anthony not to come over tonight, knowing I won’t be ready to talk, but a message from Tom comes through at that instant. “Sybal, there’s an emergency! Can you come in early please?”

Tom never asks me to come in early or emotes via text. I splash rose water on my face, scoop a bathroom counter’s worth of makeup into my bag that now won’t shut properly, and rush to the restaurant, leaving the invisible baby to fend for himself.

My car pulls to a stop at the red light before the turn, where emergency vehicles scattered in front of the building demand my attention. Two cop cars, an ambulance, and a firetruck, parked longways. I drive to the entryway and park without thinking. Tom is inside hunched over the bar, his face pressed into his hand.

“Tom, what’s happened!?”

He opens his mouth to speak but all he can do is draw enough breath to fuel his sobbing. I carry myself quick and leveled like I’m holding an overfilled glass, dodging cops and first responders before they can ask me what I’m doing or tell me to leave. I follow my body to the freezer where a galvanized pipe is propping the door open. There’s an indentation the length of the inner panel where something scraped the same spot a thousand times. The next few steps feel like sinking. The lining between the walls and ceiling is partially ripped off and hanging, all the shelves have been emptied onto the floor, food removed from its cardboard, which is resting in a pile atop Jacob’s unmoving trunk. I don’t look at his face, but I feel him looking at me, pressed against the floor, his eyes flattened and grey, but somehow still pleading. I can’t tell what’s frost or what’s peeled and blistered skin. No blood but his violently red hair curling out from his scalp like nothing is wrong, some of which is twisted around his fingers that he must’ve pulled out. Piles of expensive cheeses lay around his outstretched arms.

***

I drive with a slate gray blanket a cop gave me wrapped around my shoulders and when I park I don’t know how I got home. My jaw hurt from speaking clearly to Jacob’s parents when Tom couldn’t when my body wanted to scream. It’s been telling me to save him, that I’m almost too late despite him being DOA. It feels like I could jump backward, and Jacob would still be alive. The last fifty minutes have felt like those dreams where you have to finish a million small tasks before you can address the big one that was right there all along, and now you’re in too thick to go back and your mind tells you it isn’t important, that you’ll wake up soon, but your body knows what you’ve left and carries it into the day.

I surprise myself by how hard I slam the car door shut. If my shoulder aches from carrying my bag with all the makeup, I won’t realize ‘till later. I quickly get in and run to my bathroom to get ready, realizing I forgot to text Anthony. I look at the digital clock my dad got me in seventh grade—5:15. Right when we’d be seating our guests on a normal day. It’s too late to tell Anthony not to come, he’s likely on his way.

“God, please stop showing it to me.”

I pat the triangles of pink concealer beneath my eyes as my brow gel sets, before I wipe off the wine-colored lip stain. I put on setting powder and visualize every employee’s face in order as they’re told what’s happened. I imagine Jacob’s parents sitting at home, thinking, “what do we do now?” and it makes me sick. I apply mascara, exaggerating my tear-shaped eyes, but every stroke makes me think of the scratches on the freezer door. He was smart to try and break out. Most walk-ins are nothing more than a sheet metal closet. If he had only thought outside the box, focused on the walls instead. He thought that door was the only way out. He died looking at that frosted glass, the sole window.

The low buzz of my doorbell hums as I’m patting blush over my cheeks. The bun I rolled my hair into without thinking has actually created a nice wave when I remove the tie. Any satisfaction is immediately drowned with disgust.

“Coming!”

I swing the door open, ready to fight with Anthony but am taken aback by the freshly dyed black hair and the stark contour this unexpected female body has used to manipulate her features. In real life, all the jealousy goes away, and I feel a terrible, satiated anguish as I’m looking at someone most people wouldn’t look twice at, except in the made-up world, where people spend half their lives. What now? I have gained nothing. Jacob is still dead, and I am still poor.

I step aside so she can come in, I don’t even say hello. She looks confused and frightened and wanting, like a kid when they’re discerning if someone is being mean to them or not.

“Um,” her blue eyes look translucent as she slips into the chair where my invisible child sits. Her voice like a little fly. “It’s been so long, Sybol. What have you been up to?”

I feel my bottom lip push into the top. I’m fixating the way I do when assembling a nightstand. It’s scaring her but I can’t stop. I feel that I’m not looking through my eyes but some farther place in the back of my mind that sits dormant until it hurts from use. I may as well be looking at Jacob, all I see is a body. A mannequins. A vehicle. I start to understand that bible passage, the one about no sins in heaven, only fruit. Fruit mugs, fruit sugar bowl. When I die, I don’t want God to look at me. If I get into heaven, it’ll be through a back door.

“Sybal… is there some reason you’ve invited me here?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. Something’s happened.” and before I know it, details are pouring from my mouth. I’ve snapped out of Body Land and into whatever this is. I tell her about the text from Tom, the sirens, the scraped-up door, and the body. Worst of all the eyes. The eyes I couldn’t look at, and it lands so softly with her. She holds my sadness in her pinned-up brows and assuaged shoulders.

“Oh babe, of course you texted me. You needed someone to talk to. I understand, okay? I don’t have a lot of girlfriends either.”

I honestly have no room to protest the accusation, but I realize I can’t tell her why I texted her because I don’t know, so I lie. “Yes. It happened yesterday. That’s why I texted you last night. I’ve just been trying to process.”

The lie is small but brings with it nausea. The fake child’s head rests perfectly in the tilt of her upper abdomen. His face is that of Jacob’s now. Same flattened, beseeching eyes beaming from her stomach like dead stars.

She brings her elbow up to the table, forming a soft fist to rest her cheek against. I’ve already hopped up and started coffee, begin plating fruit as the croissants from the container above my fridge spin in the microwave, transforming under the heat. I bring it all to the table, scooting the sugar and cream toward her, and notice as she tears hers into small shreds, the gut feeling her photos give me dissolves—and we’re girls again. She eats pieces at a time as if taking a real bite is too lofty a commitment. I can tell she doesn’t like pineapple as much as the other fruit because she eats two pieces quickly for every strawberry she savors to get them over with. I want to tell her she doesn’t have to eat the sour fruit. She puts too much sugar in her coffee; myself, too much cream.

I ask her, “What do you think heaven is like?”

“Heaven?” She responds. Her gaze floats up as if the suspended tile ceiling will part and from there she’ll see gold-skirted clouds. A small line forms between her dyed brows as she stares where heaven is not, where it only burns to imagine, like the moths with their singed wings.

“I’ve never thought about it.” She tears into her croissant faster, and with less precision, shoving the pieces in, hitting her knuckles against her teeth. Her eyes have fallen, and she has forsaken the idea until a stern knock on the door awakens her senses, and she appears to be searching again.

I was not mentally prepared for whatever my anger-fueled mania would’ve had me do last night when I sent that text inviting her over. Now I feel it again, coming up like a sickness. I pity her. I pity all women for that place we go when we are reminded that it exists.

I twist the scratched-up brass knob until it releases the door inward. Anthony stands there, a look of uncertainty cloaking his narrow features.

“You’re late. This is my friend Maddie.” I step aside and watch his eyes wax.

Maddie goes from slumping to arching her back, a sudden poise gracing her face like she’s posing for a photo, and she moves her hand in tight, little waves, transforming like my 8th-grade science teacher said matter would once it’s observed. The quickness in which she becomes a mannequin makes me shudder. The performance taking place so instantly and without friction feels like sexual harassment to witness.

“Hi,” Anthony says in a friendly voice as he tries not to look. I ask him if he wants coffee as he sets his duffle bag on the counter.

“Always.”

We sit at the table, and we talk, and Maddie decides heaven is a place with a balcony, where she can walk out, always looking her best, and wave to the peasants relishing in her presence. Her heaven is a place to be witnessed. We laugh, and fake laugh. Anthony goes to the store and comes back with the beer she said she likes in passing even though moments before he arrived she and I had been joking about our mutual hatred for beer. Any beer. I wonder which is the truth, and who the lie is for, who is she like, and who is she just trying to be like right now. Either way, any treat Anthony has ever brought home to me is rendered worthless under this moment’s teeth.

I’m not bitter, just gloriously detached. Dead enough to be honest. I understand her charm. She is one of the women willing to lie with her whole body, to help men hide their shame and pretend, for a moment, they aren’t monsters. I know how this goes. They feel they can open up to her, all the while confirming her worst fears.

She leaves north of ten-thirty, in her blue Honda, waving enthusiastically from her rolled-down window, having no idea what she’s done. Her taillights illuminate the corn stalks as she pulls onto the main road. I watch until they go dark again.

“I have a funeral Sunday,” I say, shutting the door with my foot. The counters are already covered in smears and splattered sugar.

Anthony grabs the handle of his duffle bag, pulling it to a guided fall. Sugar goes with it. I let out an audible hiss as it sprinkles the floor. I grab the broom from the wall by the fridge and the handle knocks the magnet holding the electric bill off. $185 past due.

After I clean the kitchen, I join Anthony on the couch. What feels like a cold snake slithers down my sweatshirt. I pull the chunky, knit blanket off the loveseat over to us, making sure there’s enough to cover his legs after pulling it up to my chin.

“Did you touch the air?”

He immediately shakes his head no without even considering the possibility, flicks off the show we were supposed to watch together, and asks me to choose the movie. The whole weekend is like this, the thermostat magically going down on its own, sugar on my counters and floors. On Saturday night, I wake up to eat an ice cream sandwich over the sink in the dark and find that the freezer door had been left open and my electric bill had fallen and lodged itself in the slit between the counter and wall. I still ate the too-soft ice cream sandwich in the dark with the ghost baby watching.

The morning of the funeral I’m facing my headboard, doing my stretches when I see female silhouettes in the gloss of Anthony’s eyes.

“Interesting article?”

He flips his thumb until the app gets sucked into a rotation, from which he selects the next rectangle. “No, just something about metaphysics.” His commitment to avoid a blatant lie is the most disciplined thing about him.

Anthony leaves for a haircut and says he’ll be back as I’m dotting lipstick on for Jacob’s service. When I close the door and lock up, I do not leave a key in the hollow place where the mortar has worn from between two bricks. The cigarette smell, the baby, and the bill are still there. I have fixed everything within my control and worry Anthony will be waiting angrily when I’m back.

I drive to Reed's Funeral Home and get hit with a wave of nausea accompanied by flashes of his frost-bitten face stuck to the floor.

Sawyer is waiting behind the clear doors next to a wall of gardenias the restaurant donated, his legs like black pencils in his suit. I swirl my eyes around the sea of dark, faded blouses and charcoal grey pants but his is the only face I recognize. Up close his skin is visibly clammy. He looks at me like a wall until the realization strikes and we catch eyes. Nobody talks about that part of funerals, how the departed dies anew for each pair of eyes you catch. We trudge through the crowd, picking up familiar faces as we make our way to the pews. Sawyer looks around like death is a rabid dog going around biting ankles.

They direct us to the row up front, opposite his family, and uncomfortably close to the cherry-glossed casket. Tom and Erin are to my left, Sawyer, and the rest of the line cooks, plus a handful of Jacob’s friends are to my right. Erin’s presence feels like an open door to a black room. He extends his neck and watches every guest take their seat. As the music begins I hear him say, “He probably took all that cheese in the freezer so he wouldn’t be caught eating it on camera,” so loudly I wonder if Jacob’s mother heard.

I step outside where Sawyer, Erin, and the new guy, Lee are standing around while we wait to put Jacob in the ground. I ask them what heaven is like. Erin chimes in immediately, describing a pilgrimage of breasts and steak—Shish kabobbed together.

Lee takes his black cap off, and shakes his sandy blonde hair. “You mean, like, clouds and stuff?”

I nod. “Doesn’t have to be.”

Lee thinks for a minute. “I guess it would be a baseball game with my dad, twenty-four-seven Xbox, all the snacks I wanted, maybe a cute girl serving them to me,” he laughs abruptly like he isn’t supposed to. “In all seriousness, it would just look like a clean house, paid bills, maybe some kids, but the miraculous kind that don’t cry so much, ya know? And I’d want a wife that’s pretty but not too pretty, or like, pretty, but only when she’s in the house and she transforms into just cute when she goes somewhere.”

I wonder if the wife and the snack girl are the same, like some mage that came with the dream house, then I think of myself sweeping up the sugar Anthony spilled. I gesture to Sawyer, who tightens his lips and looks down.

“I think heaven is where everyone has millions and you can just buy anything you want without it contributing to the capitalist system, and no one ever dies, and you don’t have to do anything besides what you want. You can stay up late, sleep in, your clothes are waiting for you, folded somehow, without anyone having to do labor.”

The next day, we’re expected at the restaurant like nothing’s happened, like Jacob’s death isn’t fresh in the kitchen of our minds, sprawled out on the table like an unpaid bill.

There’s a man at the bar, but no one’s really working.

“I’m sorry, Sir. Our bartender is still working on his two-hour break.” I whisk my hair into a tie and open up the cabinet beneath the register to see what bottles are already open. “What can I get you? We make the best negronis.”

The man laughs and runs his hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. “I don’t argue with the guy holding the gun.”

As I pour the sweet vermouth, I think of Anthony. How he refused to try the new coffee I bought from the farmer’s market, or how he asked me to make chicken soup the old way once I improved the recipe. He was a fan of punishing himself for no reason, and I was being punished right alongside him. Condemned to enjoy small comforts in solitaire so they could be held over my head later.

I like how the old man dresses—warm grey turtleneck with a dark green jacket, unzipped, and latte-colored pants with oxblood loafers peeking beneath his tailored hems. I know most men can’t afford to dress this nicely, but most of them wouldn’t if they could. I remember my ex who habitually wore the kind of shorts/shirt combo a four-year-old would wear being disappointed when he picked me up for a concert, and I didn’t own a dress like the one he imagined I’d be in. Yet they want us to be ashamed, afraid even, of older men’s attraction to us when men our age treat us like keys that don’t work.

“So they got you behind the bar, but do they let you drink,” he says, wrinkles extending from the corners of his eyes.

“No.”

He nearly spits out his first sip battling a sharp burst of lighter. “That’s terrible, kid. You want to?”

I quickly shake my head no and he pulls out his wallet, takes a month’s salary plus tips in cash, sets it somewhere in the center of the oak slab. The money unfolds slowly, outer bills quivering beneath the air vent making the wad look like an injured sparrow from my peripheral view. I’m deliberately avoiding eye contact at this point. “I don’t date for money.”

“What do you date for,” he asks. “Kindness? Respect? Perhaps you date for love. Well, are you getting those things? Don’t pretend you don’t want wine, cheese, nice clothes. There’s no reward for it in this life or the next, trust me. I’ve been on this earth, amongst these people a long time.”

I feel strange and embarrassed of my suspicion. Perhaps it’s the Anthony’s who have made me feel my looks are all I have to offer, that they aren’t enough simultaneously. It is their behavior I reference when I can’t imagine someone actually wanting to talk or spend time with me. This old man noticed my shoes, took my drink suggestion without some compensatory display of masculinity, he even asked me a question about myself. No wonder all my friends are running off with them.

He gets up after only one drink, leaving a clean, burgundy card with a gold line through the center and some words on the bottom—a name with a ‘Y’, I think. He shoves it closer to the cash register with two fingers.

“For when you want to go to heaven.” When he leaves, the sun pours into the room, blinding me.

I suppose the former waitresses see my brand of poor as Anthony saw my chicken soup, unable to bring the improved recipe to his lips. They tell me I could at least be miserable, and filled with caviar, reaching for cheese I will never afford, peering through a sole window while the only kind men suck the life from my eyes until they look like Jacob’s. I took the money and never called him.


 

Greer Ohlsson is a fiction writer and essayist from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her stories can be found in Mulberry Literary, The Bangalore Review, and, soon, in On The Run. You can keep up with her literary follies on TikTok and Substack @theendisgreer

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