Jinny was sick. She had let Tom share her drink. Jinny allowed it so she could put her lips where his had been because she couldn’t kiss him. He was allowed to kiss her. He had done it repeatedly once when they were lying on the sofa with his hands groping her breasts. Tom’s kisses were sloppy and unfulfilling. Jinny needed that again.
Her phone lit up. It would be her Sophomore year biology teacher. His sister had cancer, leukemia maybe. He had sent Jinny another article about some famous author. Jinny was sitting on top of the kitchen table, elbow deep in a box of Raisin Bran. She had thrown the chairs away. God, she hated those chairs. Tom had told her once how nice he thought they were, but she put them in the driveway with a “PLEASE TAKE” sign. Jinny had gotten rid of the bowls too. She couldn’t stand the way they clinked when she stacked them in the cupboard.
A timer went off. Jinny scooted off the table and checked on the pies in the oven. She didn’t know whom she was making them for. Maybe they were for the old man and his sister with leukemia. Maybe she would devour them both herself, sprawled out on the carpet with tissues jammed up her nose. Jinny was sick. Her shoulders were tight and tense. She went to a masseuse sometimes, but only after Christmas when she had a gift card from her mother. Jinny liked the erotic buzz of lying naked under a towel on the massage table. She thought of it now and wanted to vomit.
Jinny would go out later. She would go get sushi. She liked the sour taste of rice vinegar. Tom would be there if she left the house before five. He always looked so serious, pouring sake behind the bar. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Jinny was pretty, but only in a way noticed by guys on street corners. The ones who always said “God bless you.” Jinny didn’t like to think about it. She went and shut the window. Outside somewhere people were screaming. The people must have thought they were funny. Jinny didn’t.
Her phone rang. She ignored it. Jinny had set her phone to chime when Tom called. She had chosen a ringer at the bottom of the list that sounded like an old church bell. The phone buzzed three more times before she answered it.
“I thought you had a special ring for me?” Tom’s voice was flirtatious. Jinny knew it wasn’t for her.
“I thought I did too.”
“What are you doing right now?”
“When will they be done?”
“I took them out three hours ago. Do you only ask questions?” He didn’t find her joke funny. Tom preferred when Jinny was sad.
“Alright. I’ll be over after work.”
“I didn’t invite you.”
Tom hung up the phone before Jinny could ask him to pick up some milk. She had used an entire gallon that week for pies and afternoon coffee.
Tom had a key to the apartment. Jinny knew she had given it to him, though she couldn’t remember when. They had considered rooming together at one point, but decided against it. Tom was a tall man, with a tall man’s hands. His shoulders and torso and legs were long and large as well. The parts of him fit together nicely. Jinny liked that.
“Are we good people, Tom?” Jinny poured the coffee grounds into the top of the machine.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know.” Tom brought the heels of his palms to his face and pressed them into his forehead. “I’m too tired to talk.”
“Don’t sound so cliché. You were the one who wanted to come over.”
“I didn’t want to, Jinny. You know why I did.”
She nodded. Jinny walked over to the fridge and then back again. “I can handle myself.”
“Of course you can.” Tom picked the box of Raisin Bran off the floor and folded in the cardboard flaps. “Why don’t we have some pie.”