Sometimes I write fiction. Today, you get to meet Jackie and Olive. And Arno too, but nobody cares about him.
Jackie opened her eyes and Olive was already staring at her from across the pillow, eager. “Let’s go yard sale-ing.”
She closed her eyes against the bright sunlight and enthusiasm. “What time is it? I don’t want to. We never find anything. It’s all junk.”
Olive leaned in and kissed her on the forehead, then slipped out of bed. “I think we should. We’re always talking about spending less money on new stuff, buying into the whole consumer-industrial complex less, right?”
“If less is more, shouldn’t we be de-cluttering our lives? Getting rid of something every day? I read a blog where this couple got rid of something every day for a year.” She peered at the clock. “Jesus, is it before seven?”
Olive was tossing a pile of clothes off of her purple chair, looking for her robe. She finally located it hanging off of the mirror. “And the couple? At the end of the year, what did they have?”
Jackie chuckled. “Not much.”
Olive crossed the room, her robe floating out behind her. She leaned in close to where Jackie still lay. “I’ll make you coff-eeee,” she sang, and danced just out of reach as Jackie rose up to kiss her.
Jackie harrumphed. “Fine, I’m up. Two minutes. But only like one sale. Two max.”
“Sure, boo,” Olive said as she twirled from the room. As she rounded the corner, she turned her face back towards the big bed and smiled. “Don’t worry. My list is, like, super short.” Then she was gone.
“List?” Jackie forced herself to sit up, blinking, pulling her t-shirt up off the floor and tossing it over her head. “Babe? List?“
Jackie begged to be dropped home after the fourth yard sale, so Olive went out to lunch with Arno. Arno wasn’t his legal name. It was something he was just trying out.
“So how was yard-saleing?” He asked. “God, just saying that sounds so…utterly middle class. Like next we’re going to go play house in Ikea and then we’ll work off the Swedish meatballs in a 24-Hour Fitness.”
Olive giggled. “Well, babe, I am middle-class. If you can call it that. I only overdrafted twice last week.”
“But you’re with me. You’re an honorary rich bitch.”
“I’m pretty sure no rich girls call themselves that. And if I was a rich bitch, I never would have gone yard-saleing, and I never would’ve found this hat.” It was a giant floppy straw thing, flowered, wearing thin in the back. Only Olive could wear it unironically. “Speaking of wealthy bastards, someone was selling an entire sailboat. Right out of their front yard. We didn’t buy it, obviously. We’re waiting for the new model. And I’m really trying to cut back on my sailing.”
Olive half-killed her third mimosa in one fluid motion. The jam jars they served them in were really kind of small. “Anyway so know that conference I went to last month? The distributor thing. I was on the plane, next to this adorable woman in her fifties, she was keeping herself up really well. No gray hair. But she had a daughter who was going to school to be a writer, so I told her about Jackie, and she said ‘oh, you’re a lesbian? So where do you live, then? L.A., or New York?'” Olive’s eggs sat nearly untouched on her plate. She never ate much in front of other people. “And I was like, oh, are those the two lesbian cities in our great nation?”
Arno laughed a deep, masculine laugh he had adopted last month to go with his mustache. “What did she say?”
“Oh, I didn’t really say that to her. She just seemed so sweet and, like, middle-western. But I mean she was actually from northern Washington state. And her daughter goes to Brown.”
Arno didn’t actually know where Brown was, although he had a vintage poster for the school hung on the brick wall in the studio he called his loft. He smiled and took a swig of his PBR (they served it in paper bags on Sundays). “You want in on these vegan fries?”
Olive waved in the general direction of his plate. “Oh yeah, amazing, I had some,” she said. She took her first bite of her chopped-up eggs and called to the waitress. “We’re all done here, Kimmy,” she said. At home, Jackie would be writing out back and she would stand in the pantry and eat four bowls’ worth of Special K directly from the box.
Kimmy, the waitress, was barely eighteen and had purple hair because of Demi Lovato. She’d moved out early and rented an old trailer on the outskirts of town from a naturist couple who liked to make love in the communal hot tub. She’d tried sex once — not with the naturists — but didn’t really understand its mass appeal. She was reading Sartre because it seemed like a good idea to have a hobby. She knew the cook added bacon grease to the vegan fries. She smiled at the hipster and the floaty lesbian, whose names she would never remember, and lifted their half-empty plates on her tanned arms. “More drinks, friends?”
Arnold raised his eyebrow at Olive. “One for the road?” He was in love with her, but not in a serious way.
“I couldn’t possibly,” Olive laughingly held out her glass towards their waitress. “Oh, Kimmy, the things I do for you.” She went to grab the pitcher.
Jackie was at home, writing as fast as she could.
It was a scene with a giraffe and an elephant, something about that which connected them essentially, that they were both in the same universe and on the same planet and even in the same zoo and they’d both had the same shitty luck to be born into captivity, something about how they were safe and cared for and yet their lives would never hold much color or joy or uncertainty, and she was just getting every single thing about the scene completely wrong. The worse it got, the faster she wrote, until her fingers were flying over the keys in a blur of muted clattering and summer heat-related frustration.
When cheers drifted over the fence from the neighbors watching the soccer game, Jackie nearly screamed. She left off mid-sentence, closed the laptop, and went inside to refill her water and mutter. “This is the only time I have to write,” she told the kitchen sink. “The only time!” she angrily told the granite-alternative countertops the landlord had so kindly installed last year. When she stopped yelling to take a good long drink of water, she realized there were noises coming from the pantry. Olive was home.
She poked her head into the pantry. Olive looked up from where she sat cross-legged, her hand deep in the cereal box, flashing her bright orange underwear from underneath the shorts in her funny floral jumpsuit. Oh Lena Dunham, Jackie thought, what damage thou hast wrought on an entire generation of women. “Hey babe. Good brunch?”
Olive smiled sheepishly. “Arno grew a mustache. Kimmy’s hair is purple.” She looked down helplessly at the food in her lap. “I didn’t have much to eat there.”
“You want tofurkey roll-ups? We have avocados…”
“I’m full. Totally full.” She set the box aside and looked at Jackie, her hair curling around her temples, her cutoffs rolled up further than normal. “You look pretty. How did it get so damn hot outside?”
“God hates me and doesn’t want me to be published.” Jackie offered her arm, and helped her girlfriend up.
“Aww, babe. You want to go back to that yard sale and get that boat? Would it cheer you up? It was only $125,000.”
“Naah. You know how it goes. If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean…”
“And if you had a pony, you’d ride him on your boat.”
“Bingo. And that just doesn’t seem safe. Logistically, you know?”
“Anyway, if I get you the pony now, that will ruin Christmas,” Olive said. “Gotcha. So. Wanna listen to Lyle Lovett and make up a Tindr profile to catfish Arno with?”
“You read my mind.” Jackie wrapped her arms around her girlfriend. “This is why Saturdays are the best. I’m gonna grab a beer. You want a cider?”