NEVER REALLY OVER by Kate Shapiro

1.

My resort in Thailand is a beautiful picture ringed with spider eggs. I angle the phone so the fat cockroaches with long wandering antennae are not within the frame of my selfie, but the beach is. I know I look beautiful because beaches make you beautiful. They make you shimmer. I am shimmering now, like an iridescent fish.

Two weeks before Thailand, Charles put my face between his two palms and told me he met someone named Suzanne at a live sitar show and he could not deny their attraction any longer. He said that he loved me and believed we would get married someday but he had to see how it worked out with Suzanne first.

What if I love her? he said, as dumbass-tears leaked out of his right eye and a lizard crawled over his hand and joined the other lizards congregated by the door watching us break up. Charles threw a rock at the lizards.

2.

An Israeli soldier named Noy stays in the cabana next door and does mushrooms every morning at the mushroom-shaped club blooming out of the cliff over a guava-shaped resort. I find him one day inhaling nitrous out of a rainbow-shaped balloon. Give me some, I say, and sit next to him. 

Noy needs a haircut. His army uniform is rolled up over his shoulders, the green of it lightened from the sun, stains dotting the collar and sleeves; badges peeling off.

How does it feel to kill a Palestinian, I ask.

I build radar equipment, he says.

But how does it feel to kill a Palestinian, I ask.

They send us to Thailand to make us forget we do it, he says.

Noy and I watch a girl with a fiery baton do backflips on the sand. I put my arm around Noy and tell him to smile. We have a glow around us. It is like the world is a bright, shining thing and we are the deformed creatures that inhabit it. The contrast is stunning. I post it on social media.

3.

A text arrives from Charles. Hey, how you holding up? I hold my phone close to me and scream. I tell him, Great! Just Great!

I gleefully swat at bugs. I slice millipedes in half with my index finger. 

I slap a spider so hard its guts are splayed in a perfect circle on the inside of my elbow. Sugar ants swarm the dregs of a pink, plastic champagne flute. 

Noy watches the centipedes and drinks a Chang. A rocket once landed in an abandoned lot choked with weeds and beer cans next to my kindergarten, he tells me. It never exploded. My teacher told me to go underground and I remember my classmates hugging each other and crying. I thought, what for? Nothing will happen. This is how they want us. Scared and also bored. There is a word for it in Hebrew.

4.

The next day I sob while a Scandinavian family does yoga. 

What’s wrong, Noy says. 

I show him my phone. He shields it with his hand. It’s an Instagram post of Charles and Sitar Suzanne with their arms around each other on top of a dusty mountain. She is very thin; you can see every one of her bones, and her hair is straight and shiny.

Noy asks her: is this what is attractive to Americans?

The sitar girls are the most attractive, I tell him. They are a clean white sheet to throw over a dusty piece of furniture.

She is not prettier than you, Noy says.

You only think that because you are on mushrooms. I am actually fat, I say and point at my fat belly lined with bug bites and moles.

But fat is good, Noy replies, perplexed. 

Thank you, I say, but I know better. Charles is better. He is the bare-faced Birkenstocks-wearer and I am the cretaceous organism desperate to split in two.

5.

Noy and I drink one milkshake full of mushrooms each and watch a group of monkeys on a nearby cove. One monkey picks a leech off another monkey’s butthole and eats it. Kindness, I believe, is not a thing humans value. I have a theory that we are not the product of our parents, or their parents, or our stupid fucking genetics, but instead a product of the country we are born in and its stupid fucking ideas of how to live and die. I tell Noy this as the ocean fractures into a million black centipedes.

Can you please stop mentioning the Palestinians? he asks. 

He removes his uniform, then his pants, until he is naked, stretching his limbs out like he is an Israeli starfish. I also remove my clothes and spread myself out so I can touch his toes and fingers with my toes and fingers. 

6.

I tell Noy that we must ride a jet ski in order to kill our past. I tell him, in America, jet skis represent the apex of happiness. 

It is the first time I want to kill my past and not resurrect it into a slug that I fuck.

I let Noy drive it into the open ocean and clutch his waist as he hits the waves head-on. I let him scream for a long time when nobody can hear us. I scream too. A wave kicks us off and we tumble into the open ocean. I can hear the sting rays, giant squids, and whales swimming underneath us while Noy squeezes me.

We park the jet ski at a cay populated with feral cats. They fight with each other over crushed guavas swarming with fruit flies and maggots. The victor feasts on the spoils as the loser watches from behind a rubber tree. Noy tells me he killed someone once with a 160 mm gun from two miles away. I felt nothing, he says, then I felt I should feel something, which was much much worse.

The cats do not bother me and Noy because they detect us as comrades. I like the horizon because it does not contain Charles or Sitar Suzanne. I like it because it is just that: a horizon. It’s not even that good. Boring, really. No pretty islands. The water is ugly. The cats begin to wail. Noy produces a peach. I ask where he got it and he shrugs. We split the peach and watch the horizon. Maybe we hold hands. Who cares.


Kate Shapiro was born and raised in Dallas, TX. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She won first place in the Summer Literary Seminars 2018 Fiction Contest. Her work can be seen in Fence, Litro, and Interim.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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