ONE NIGHT WITHOUT YOU
“How do I know if I’m pregnant?” Mike said. Jasper didn’t know how they were going to get through this. “And all for one night with the king. You know, without you there’s no reason for my story in the first place.”
“Well,” Jasper said, “if I had to live my life again I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner. But without you here I don’t know what I’d do.”
“What kind of life has Granny Weatherall made for herself?” Mike said, meaning himself.
“Would that be something you might be interested in?” Jasper said, meaning making a life for himself, themselves.
“Oh, it’s magic you know, just a bunch of awful magic,” Mike said. “Like all those ‘I need you’ quotes.”
“You mean like the ones in my life movie?” Jasper said. They both had an arms-reach-co-sleeper sort of disorder, even when they were awake. It felt like sincerely thinking I might need you to hold me tonight every second of the day.
“You’re my world,” Mike said. “The shelter from the rain.”
“My heart keeps beating like a hammer,” Jasper said.
“And my soul says yes!” Mike said.
“If you ever leave me I’m going with you,” Jasper said.
“Baby, you wouldn’t last a minute on the creek,” Mike said.
It had started to feel like a would you rather game. Or like a math problem: then take away the whole and some still remains. What is it?
“Everything good needs replacing,” Mike said.
“Yeah,” Jasper said, “like in my life movie.”
“And tell me it’s raining or I’ll die,” Mike said.
It felt like their apartment had a giant “now hiring” sign on the outside.
“Really though,” he said, “how do you get pregnant when you’re a guy?”
“I live here,” Jasper said, “not on Venus.”
“You know,” Mike said, “without you Mariah Carey lyrics just aren’t the same.”
“Like, I want you to want me?” Jasper said. “Like, to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”
The conversation felt like saying “how do I breathe without air?” to a school of quiet, blinking fish on the bottom of the ocean. Or like projecting Young and the Restless spoilers at Comic-Con.
“This is like if you give a mouse a cookie or something,” Mike said. “I swear even everyday math can make me cry.”
“Go ‘how to’ and everyone just falls flat on their face,” Jasper said. He felt like a do-it-yourself pest control someone had forgotten in the basement.
“And all that happily ever ever after,” Mike said. “More like SURVIVE THIS, BITCHES! Really though, how do I look?” He patted his hair and thought about “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, then told Jasper he had been reading it all week to build sympathy.
“Oh how charming,” Jasper said, “let me count the ways you sparkle.”
There was a framed print on the wall that said Do I live in a Flood Zone or Is it just that Time of Month?
“Without a paddle,” Mike said, looking at his computer. “Up youtube movies creek.”
“Some guys once told me that if youtube had been around in the sixties and seventies there’d be a lot more than 50,000 names on the Vietnam wall,” Jasper said. “They also said there was no sun in Alaska.”
Mike pushed his laptop around on the table and said, “My Skype isn’t working.”
“They said if Americans were more patriotic there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
Then Mike’s Skype started working and he said there was no love in marriage except email. A face appeared on the computer and said, “With you here finally my life is average.”
“I was told there’d be no math,” Mike said back to it.
“It’s not like I asked for the percentage of the world left handed,” it said back. “Or your goddam soul for me to poop on.”
Jasper squiggled around next to Mike on the couch, ignoring his conversation with the computer, and continued on about the men: “They asked what had I ever done and I told them I invented Times New Roman.”
“Baby,” Mike said to the screen, “I don’t cry over you.”
“Well,” the face said, “at least you know what you don’t know.”
“Like I would understand anyway,” Mike said.
Jasper felt like a phone number on the do not call list.
“I’d be surprisingly good for you in person,” Mike said to the screen. “Like finding all your lost tapes from the eighties.”
“What if I lost my social security card?” it said. “Would you be my youtube music?”
“If you ever leave this world alive I would,” Mike said.
It was like baby shower games for cosmonauts, Jasper thought.
“You wouldn’t download a car,” the face said, “but you’ll download me.”
“It’s cuzza I takeda pharmaceuticals,” Mike said. They felt like a couple giving away everything. Even their special two-person, couples-only “real invisibility” cloak.
“My life and hard times on drugs,” the face said, who was Mike’s boyfriend irl.
“This feels like some miserable tell-me-about-yourself interview question,” Jasper said.
“Now how shall we live!” Mike said to him with his hand over his face.
There was another framed print that said Do I live on a Fault Line or are You just Happy to See Me?
“Without you I’m just me,” Mike said to the screen. “And I don’t even want to know how I got these scars!”
“Do I break up with him?” Mike said behind his hand to Jasper. Jasper felt like a commercial on The Weather Channel. Or like the billboard for Without Walls International Church he had once seen in a photograph in an art gallery in Florida.
“You belong with me,” Jasper said, his face now also hiding behind Mike’s hand, both of them invisible there together, close enough to start a family of their own.
Note: Each sentence of this piece contains one partial lyric from the pop country song "How Do I Live" in turn completed by a Google search suggestion.