CW: binge eating, cis/het sex, depression, traffic accident / death, and brief mention of suicide.
On the afternoon of her firing Monica Howard found herself alone in her kitchen. It was 2:30 and she had nowhere to be. She could drink. She could masterbate. She could do any number of the countless things that helped her break the ice sheet of numbness and boredom on her chest. None of them felt satisfying today.
She took out her phone in a vague effort to connect with the world outside of her studio apartment. There was a text from her mother reminding her it was her father’s birthday next week. An email from Bed Bath & Beyond. An auto-text from a political campaign promising to make, “the kind of positive legislative change California needs right now”. Whatever that meant.
Monica considered calling up her boyfriend to have him leave work to pity fuck her. Sex with Teddy was usually a missionary style affair where he kneaded at her boobs like a baker on a time crunch. She didn’t mind it so much. She minded afterwards when he tried to hold her, keeping her from her sleep and trapping her in the smell of his sweat. Maybe that was just the price of getting a “good guy”. The kind of man who was polite to your mother, remembered your favorite Indian restaurant, and didn’t try to fuck you when you said you were tired. Fucking him might give her something to do this afternoon, but it wasn’t worth enduring the emotional support and coaching he would try to give her when he learned she’d been fired.
She decided to go for a drive instead. If she stayed on the freeway long enough she might be able to get buzzed off the honks and dramatic merges of LA traffic. Maybe she’d even get to see an accident. The last time she had passed one she had caught a glimpse of a bloody man with a head wound being strapped into a stretcher by an EMT. How many people had that EMT gotten to see die?
Up ahead she spotted a sign for Taco Bell. What had Fergie said? I still go to Taco Bell / Drive-thru, raw as Hell? Could she be raw as hell? All indications of her life thus far pointed to no. She was a 27-year-old unemployed telemarketer with an Art History degree, $20,000 in student debt, and a boyfriend who couldn’t make her cum. Taco Bell wasn’t going to fix that. Still, there was something alluring about eating unhealthy fast food at 3:34 on a Wednesday afternoon.
Pulling in Monica wondered if the occupants of the other cars in the drive-thru had something they wanted to live for. Probably not. Maybe they hadn’t really thought about it. Lucky them.
As she approached the window she started scanning for the most unreasonable item on the menu. One of the oddest things about Taco Bell is that no matter what Monica ordered she always seemed to be eating the exact same meal. She spotted a bright green monstrosity in the upper right corner with the words Baja Blast Freeze bolded below it. Disappointingly it was only 190 calories. If she combined it with two Nacho BellGrade Combos she could break 2000, the recommended calories for an adult to consume in a day. The idea appealed to her. As though consuming the calories of another might somehow make her stretch past the tired boundaries of herself.
After a zit-faced teenager handed her her order with a scripted “have a good day”, she pulled into a corner of the parking lot. She decided this first combo was for her. The reasonable woman with the reasonable job and the reasonable boyfriend who had completed all of the steps that supposedly assured happiness or at least satisfaction. That woman would be the one shitting herself and looking for a new job tomorrow. The second combo was for the girl Monica had gotten to be eight hours a day, five days a week. The peppy one with a headset whose soul purpose was to sell people new data plans. Most of the time she got answering machines and requests to be placed on “do not call lists”, but everyone once in a while she got the thrill of being told to fuck off.
That girl no longer had a cubicle, somewhere to be, or something to work towards. This meal was her wake and Monica was determined to see it through, stuffing her face with Nachos even as she felt the rising in her esophagus.
Today was about mourning and tomorrow would be about survival. She just had to get through the next days and weeks until she could find another girl to occupy her body.
With that decided Monica opened her car door and threw up.
Gen Greer (she/her) is a dog lover and sometimes writer. Her work has appeared in Queerlings, Rejection Letters, Sledgehammer Lit, and elsewhere. Follow her on twitter @roaringgirl2