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Here in East Greenwich

Here in East Greenwich

Here in East Greenwich

by Carolynn Mireault

Every so often, from the second floor of the neighboring house, two hands come out pale, shoving an AC unit by the ass, and send it crashing onto the others in the yard. One day, I think they’re going to forget to let go, come out with it, and break their neck in the pile at the bottom. Not far from the grill and propane tank, a guy with a mullet comes out from the metal awning, kicking steel garbage to the shed to save it from the downpour. This never happens there.

There, they eat tomatoes in the sunbeat, talk about little poems and procrastinate, touch each other’s fingers and legs. F, (the man), makes death noises about little animals and people he hates, is the king of the world; simultaneously: A groove in the sand.

There, in Rethimno, they eat dolmas and drink Vidiano, (plus the feta, filling all those triangles of pie). They kick balls with Athens boykids who are hyper and cruel. Then, full-bladdered, they do the sights, eat goat with the YiaYias, scrape lamb from a wheel, hobble over limestone. F is not thinking of home now, of women now, all with their white-wet chowder pots, open on the bed.

There, in the ruins, they turn brown in the sun. They wear tight dresses on the hotel patio by the shrubbery while donkeys go by, carting white linens. Mornings, at the Americanized café, they eat large-curd eggs on halved croissants—bacon hanging down the side—then back to the room to squat over the bidet, hold hands by the open curtains to watch in disbelief: The sun over the water.

He used to hold my hand on Commonwealth. I wonder sometimes if he ever still thinks about my mouth. Or recalls me on the floor, foaming with spit, knees red from the carpet.

The old habits are not working. Everyone I loved has since moved on. People with moles, people who want to live with them, listen to them, (like I could not). The sun comes in lines through the venetians and runs diagonal on my leg, on the pages of Miller. It gleams gold on the hair and pink on the temple. Last night, over coupes of fermented corn, I got my story straight, then kissed a stranger into the morning when it got humid, and the light came in in strips, and we made eggs with pink salt, white pepper, and pet the galumphing kitten. It used to be me and F, doing this, but with pork and taters, white wine at Jonnie’s.

Here, the back of the barstools come up like the key lid of a piano. The waitress, (a raging cunt), says we came in the wrong way, and next time, to check at the counter before we sit down, which puts us on edge immediately, before she even takes our order, (chicken and coffee), before she brings over rolls and flash-made pickles, or the silverware wrapped in the single napkin. Our fingers are sticky from touching the menus.

But there, in Preveza, (deep in the leather), glitter flashes in their mimosas, and they watch the sun glint off the boats, off the windows of bakeries, where the bread comes out golden and fat.

Out my window, pink and red roses shoot from a bush, which the neighbor goes by on his way to the idling Elantra. His wife is waiting in the passenger, huffing, window down to the weatherstrips. He picks one of the pink ones. As her hands it to her, a jay passing over splatters guano on the sunroof.

“How would you kill me?” I’d asked F once in jest.

“A very flawed way of working,” he’d gone on, “borderline redundant. Blah, blah, blah. Let’s not even bother. With a fucking pillow, there’s nothing you could do about it. If I wanted to kill you, you would die. I’d also break your jaw beforehand, so you could choke on your own blood, and also your teeth, like, I like the idea of fragments of teeth in your throat, because people love their teeth so much.”

Down Festival Pier, a seagull floats backward in the current toward the water tower. The wind picks up, so it goes faster. Can’t even make it out now. Some guy over there fishing for trout swept up in the flow. Attached to the streetlamp: A birdhouseoid thing for cigarette butts. Across the water: A wall of foot-long rocks and excavators bent into piles of shredded rubber. A network of powerlines run through metal structures behind a giant brick building, where eighteen-wheelers go slowly, hauling toward I-95 to Boston. White geezers sit in their sedans facing the boat launch.

There, in a shirt and tie, F is eating bream off the spine over the kawaakari.

Carolynn Mireault is a recipient of the 2022 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature and the 2022 Florence Engel Randall Fiction Award. She holds an MFA from Boston University, where she served as a Leslie Epstein Fellow and the Senior Teaching Fellow. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Cutleaf, Glassworks, Louisiana Literature, BULL, The Westchester Review, Pithead Chapel, and FEED among other venues. Find her most recent publications here.