by Marie Hoy-Kenny
Last week, Ally stole $50 out of my wallet. She bought me a birthday card with some of that money, not sure what she did with the rest of it. The birthday card had a donkey with a party hat on it, and the message read ‘Happy Birthday, you old ass.’ She signed her name in a doctor’s scrawl and drew a smiley face with buck teeth, which I assume was supposed to be me. Ally used to say she wanted to be a lawyer when she was done school, or a philosopher, and I thought about what those jobs had in common for far too long. Once I went to bed with her and woke to find a picture of me, cheek smushed against the pillow, drooling, thick unibrow drawn in eyeliner, posted on Facebook. That’s when I learned that 152 of her friends share her sense of humor. Ally had a lover once who compared her to a toadstool and Ally laughed about it. That lover was me and I meant she’s nice to look at, but pretty toxic, but Ally doesn’t feel offended about things like that. When Ally goes to funerals, she swears she feels the ghost of the person there, every time. Hanging around to make sure everyone came who they always hoped would. Ally said she’d do the same and if anyone ditched, she’d haunt them ‘til they shit themselves. This one time, we got in an argument about something silly, like Ally not having her share of the rent, and she shut me up by letting out an ear-splitting scream and speeding through a red light. There were no other cars on the road, but if there were, I can’t say if it would have stopped her. A girl from work text me once to ask if I’d take her shift, and I wrote back “sure,” with a smiley face emoji. Later I saw that Ally had got into my phone and typed, “Changed my mind. Never contact me again.” That night we were having a few beers, and Ally asked if I was seeing “that bitch from work,” and when I said no, she cleared my desk with one swoop of her arm, sending glasses flying to smash on the rug. She ordered me to sleep on the couch. When I woke the next day, the room was spotless, like nothing had happened. She’d even placed glasses in the exact spot they were in before she smashed them. I asked if she wanted to talk about it and she said maybe I should try drinking less beer, because my story was all wrong.
Sometimes I discover little scraps of paper, in my pockets, in my shoes, in my wallet, in my car, and they’ve got these random words in her handwriting on them, like berry, slide, rattle, she, yearn, low, my. When I ask Ally about them, she says one day I’ll figure it out. I’m saving them under the mattress, where I doubt she’ll find them if she ever wants to take them back.
Sometimes just looking at a picture of a dog Ally’s never met in her life will make her sob.
This one morning when it was still dark out, Ally pushed my head off her breast and whispered for me to get up. She climbed up on the roof and called out to me that the sunrise wasn’t gonna wait for losers. So of course, I lumbered up there even though I could’ve cracked my spine in half. The sun started off as fire orange but I watched it soften, soften until it was pink like new flesh.
Marie Hoy-Kenny is enjoying a slower pace in her new home in a small town in Ontario, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a Bichon poodle who seems to think she’s human. Her work has been published in Cease, Cows, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Ilanot Review, as well as other publications. She has a story that is forthcoming in Trampset. She tweets @mariehoykenny