Merle Kinney

I’m in the middle of a job interview when my titties say, “But do we actuallyknow how to manage a shoe store? Like…you’re sure we’re not too nice to be a leader?”

“Oh, interesting point.” The interviewer tilts her head, smiles a little. “Speak on that.”

I make a fist under the table to keep from yelling. “My current job is managing a book store, so I think that’s pretty relevant to-”

My tits cut me off. “Anyone who walks into a bookstore these days is a sweet little nerd and so are all the employees. Good eggs. Easy. Can you imagine any of them making the kind of fuss an upper-middle class mom or a grandpa who refuses to learn anything about technology are capable of?”

The interviewer fires off a tightly-controlled customer service laugh.

I will not be called back regarding that particular opportunity.

When I get home, I slam the door. “You didn’t have to do that,” I say through clamped teeth.

“Sure I did,” they respond, “That’s who I am. What do you want me to do? Repress my true self? Live a lie? That just ain’t healthy.”

I fall face first into my bed.

Shortly after I’ve emerged from a sweaty 4pm nap, my neighbor knocks on the door. What’s his name? Todd? Jake? Alcibiades? “Sorry to bother you,” he says, “but is your internet down too?” He’s wearing a shirt with an N64 logo on the front and Japanese text down the long sleeves.

I check my phone. “Looks like it.”

“Damn.” He shakes his head, ruffling the pile of curls on top. A furious envy sprouts in my gut. “I was only downloading a game when it cut out, but I could lie and say I was doing something smart like researching stuff for my PhD in…uh…”

“In Gamer?”

“My PhD in Gamer, yeah.” He grins. I feel cool.

The tits say, “I was watching The Bachelor.”

“That’s untrue,” I say, “I like that shirt.”

“I would look awful in it,” Double Ds says, “Lumpy.”

He raises an eyebrow. “I don’t think…”

“You, though? It makes you look like you produce music and have a sick IG. I’d look like a mom from Ohio.”

“Thanks, I guess?” He smiles, mildly confused. “See you around.”

“I hate you,” I tell them when the door’s closed.

“I’ll be here all week,” they say, “And the next. And the next.”

I slump into my desk chair and stick my phone in front of my face.

I’m 20 feet deep in the comments of a Reddit post, when Double Ds pipes up again. “Hey, scroll back up. What did that guy say about Cardi B?”

I indulge them, for some goddamn reason.“It says ‘There was a pic of them going around and those are some of the most worn out looking pancake tits I’ve ever seen.’”

“Expand the thread. I want to see more,” Double Ds says.

“The next comment is ‘if she doesn’t already have 5 kids, those areolas are going to consume her chest when she does.’ And then ’Yah they’re pretty salami looking.’”

I huck my phone across the room, and it thumps into the tangle of blankets on the bed. “Neckbeards,” I mutter, “What do they know?”

“Apparently not that their opinion of someone who’s gonna live like a god for the rest of her life is entirely unnecessary.”


A loaded silence.

“But, I mean…” says Double Ds.

“Oh fuck off.”

They do not. “I’m just saying, we do kinda have some deli meat and breakfast food types of situations going on, don’t we?”

I explode. “What is your problem? I can’t get a moment of peace? I can’t look how I want? Be comfortable?”

“Why don’t I get to be included in any of that?”

“You don’t belong here.”

“That right there” they shout, “How do you think that makes me feel?”

I spring to my feet and they retaliate, tugging downward. “I don’t care about your feelings. You were not invited.”

“Oh you’ve done it now,” they say, “You thought you couldn’t get a moment of peace before? Try walking down some stairs – I dare you.”

A throat-shredding groan crawls up from the root of my being. I lean forward and press my forehead onto my desk, taking slow breaths. They dangle, hatefully.

Merle Kinney lives in Denver and writes about writes about gender, work,
and virtual spaces. Their work can be found in Dime Show Review, Catapult,
and great weather for media’s Escape Wheel.

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