She wrote this and held her face up to the ceiling and its spinning fan blades and its glow-in-the-dark star stickers. Thinking about the tweet made her laugh and her laugh was a cackle and each “ha” was enunciated as a separate article. She held her face up to the ceiling and said “ha-ha-ha-ha.” She had made a joke and it was a funny joke and her friends and admirers would enjoy it because she had said it was a joke and anyone who did not laugh at the joke was, to her, a humorless ogre. She wrote three longer tweets explaining the joke, explaining that the idea of a sexual text message merely containing the word “poop” was strange and baffling and metacontextual after the string of internet sext jokes devolved into saying words that sounded silly. She had dissected a frog and each pin that held the frog’s chest cavity open was liked by over ten thousand subscribers.
When Mark, her ex-boyfriend and first cousin twice removed, asked her to join him at a Thai restaurant on 8th street, she agreed. They hugged when they met but she made sure to slap his back during the hug so that he wouldn’t feel too comfortable. Mark ordered the thing with chicken in it. She practiced saying “tom yam kung nam khon” before ordering and when she ordered she said all the words too fast and they merged together into “tomymkunamon.” The waitress understood the order and always understood the order.
The two friends both took pictures of their food before eating, but she put her spoon in the tom yam kung nam khon first to make it appear as if she hadn’t snapped a picture of a pre-eaten meal (to do so would be passé). They updated each other on the contents of their lives, about how Mark had recently left his job at Walgreens to work at CVS because CVS was more interested in the plight of the working class, about how she had sworn to never talk to her sister Diamond ever again after she had betrayed the family by moving out. The two started to talk about books but realized they hadn’t read any new books since the four months they had last seen each other, so they talked about internet essays. They agreed in everything. They agreed in nearly everything. Mark said Tegan & Sara weren’t very good anymore and was chastised into saying that they had simply changed as artists.
She was having such a good time with Mark that she decided they should go back to her place, her parent’s place, her childhood bedroom, for drinks and a movie. She put her fingers in her mouth to whistle for a cab but no noise would come out and she spit all over her fingers. After that she started whistling normally. After that she grabbed Mark by the arm and walked the three miles back to her place, her parent’s place. The pair started looking at everything they saw along the way, saying the name for the thing aloud (Stop sign! Crosswalk! Billboard advertisement for Nike!) and laughing at its sound. Mark would look at people walking by them and swivel his head to keep looking as they passed.
She was taken aback when, upon entering the den, Diamond was seen in her usual chair, laying in the recliner as if it were a couch, looking at her phone and sending pictures of her bare feet. It was enough for her to tell Diamond hello and keep walking. It was stupid, she supposed, but it was a normal human response to brainwashing that would be overcome with time and effort. Up in her room, she and Mark sat on the edge of the bed drinking cheap tall cans of urine-flavored beer and watched a big-budget Hollywood movie on her scalding hot laptop. The film was one she had wanted to see in theaters but didn’t watch during its theatrical run because her friends made fun of the director when she brought the movie up. They went to her room instead and filed through physical and digital shelves of purchased films, talking about each one and its worthiness or worthlessness but ended up talking so long that it became too late to watch a movie. She and Mark watched thirty minutes of explosions destroy Vancouver, but during the sequence they believed the movie was set in New York City. The main character lived in and went to school in Vancouver but she and Mark had never been outside of New York City and hadn’t realized that the rest of the world was not all like New York City. Mark swore he saw the Thai restaurant they had just been to on 8th street in the film.
She stood up to open the window, she opened the window, she unsealed the fake can of Sprite that contained Ziploc bags of marijuana, and then Mark reached into his backpack and threw out a one-pound bag of pot mustard pretzels. Mark said he had yet to try them and would rather try something unconventional for the evening. It took a half-pound each for her and Mark to feel any change. She showed him her writing, her webpage where “Sext: Poop” was the hit of the day with the numbers of favorites and retweets updating in real-time, the numbers so fast they appeared to only increase in three digits. Mark was impressed with her work and as she scrolled down the page to show him all the other sexting jokes, he began to kiss the back of her neck in a lightly-felt but controlled rotation.
After Mark left, after he gave up his efforts and allowed himself to brood on the edge of the bed for a minute and a half, she turned back to her computer to write. She wanted to say things of merit and of substance, to write an inspirational blog post telling younger women to not settle with abusive men or to take a bold stance on an ongoing war. She came off her high staring at the computer, only slowly moving her hands from her empty lap to the keyboard to write about her trouble. Her writing about her trouble was not about her trouble but about her trouble with trouble. She wrote of guilt and of shame and of suicide and of her continued existence at the foot of the bed. She wrote that to be herself she must always be in a perpetual state of dull stillness and that this dull stillness was funny because her fans could relate.
She was taken by surprise when she received an email from a prominent ebook publisher who specialized in young writers from New York City. Elaine Griggs, the woman in charge of small-time publishing house Quackle McButterson, wrote to her that she was “a better poet than she realized,” that “your value system and moral code, though appearing to be purely esoteric, are indubitably universal”, and that she expressed “unbridled, passionate, beautiful, irregular and yet utterly charming sincerity.” She read the email five times over, attempting to wrap her mind around the possibility of worldwide success and of being a staple of sincerity, because in the little shred of understanding left she knew that the last sincere thing she had said was two months ago and was about enjoying French fries.