by Nick Bertelson

Early morning, and a girl in pink shorts with pink hair washes a pink car. There’s not a lick of wind in the air. She details the thing in and out. Does ninety down the interstate to dry it off, smoking a cigarette with the windows up.

She has 25,000 unread emails in her inbox.

She owns two lizards, Fred and Bone Crusher.

She’s a big believer in mood-boards and chemical peels.

She has accidentally saved two lives. The first was a crank call she made as a teenager. A man in New Jersey had a shotgun in his mouth and was waiting on a sign when the phone rang, a giggling girl on the other end. The second life was her own. She married a man in Chicago for his health insurance. It was the only way to afford rehab. She can’t recall his name now. Nice guy, though. He’d worn a pearl-snap Wrangler to the courthouse tucked into blue jeans, no belt.

With the car now properly dry, she finds her off-ramp. Wends through some unfamiliar neighborhood, looking for the house: those perfectly squared hedges, a hissing sprinkler, that spotless bay window. All the homes look the same. The same but different. Different in similar ways. Ordinary. Like the families they shelter.

She reckons there are two types of people in this world: those who think there are two types of people in this world, and those who don’t. She’s neither. She is a fistful of wildcards, a bouquet of blue fireworks, a masterpiece fading behind a thrift-store find.

Finally. Up ahead. The house. She pulls into the drive. Sits a moment feeling accomplished. She loved washing strangers’ cars, especially when they were none the wiser. When she kills the engine, a dollop of bird shit splatters silently against the windshield. All that work. She merely laughs. But not for too long. A lady in sweatpants and an ill-fitting shirt storms out the front door, screaming. A phone to her ear. Cops, no doubt. The pink-haired girl sprints from the car. Chucks the keys onto the roof of the house for no reason. They glisten in the morning sun against the black shingles. She howls with laughter, hauling ass down the block as the lady takes chase. People didn’t appreciate anything anymore.


Photo by Xinyi W. on Unsplash