Julie doesn’t wear deodorant. She’s afraid of cancer. Her mother died of cancer and so did her father and she fears that cancer is already brewing inside of her. If she could afford to visit a doctor she would go and get screened to find out if she has cancer, but she can’t– instead she stays up some nights biting her cuticles off and worrying that everything she feels is acute cellular mutation. Julie Febreze’s® her armpits.

Julie is growing tired of me. It’s happening gradually though the signs are obvious. She’s stopped looking at me while I’m talking. She assures me she’s listening, unclenching her jaw and glancing in my direction for a second before returning her focus to an advertisement for a new razor with more blades. At night we climb into bed and I kiss her forehead. She rolls over to face the doorway. I think about asking her why she doesn’t kiss me back anymore. I tell her I love her and she makes a sound like a comfortable old chair. Her hair smells like cold cats and Moonlit Lavender™.

In the morning I will make us toast and jam. I will have forgotten Julie told me she wants to start drinking tea, and I will make coffee and she will sigh and roll her eyes at the refrigerator when I go to shower. We don’t make time to eat together anymore. When we first started dating we would cook together in the mornings and Julie would call out clues to the crossword. Now she does the crossword at work when she’s sneaking cigarettes. Lately she’s been picking up extra shifts. I feel like I never see her anymore. She comes home smelling like Alaskan Springtime™.

Julie will leave me. She’s doesn’t like it when I call her Darling, or my accent and the way I blush when I say delicious wrong. Delishish. DE-lish-us I speak into the mirror, contouring my mouth as if teaching a child about longitude and latitude. We’ll never teach our children anything. I used to think about a future with Julie, and I’d picture our family. Our babies have Julie’s eyes. In my dream there are no smelly diapers; our babies smell like Holiday Bloom & Cheer™.

Designer by day. Aspiring writer and animator by night. Mercy main when I can find the time.

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