I don’t know what happened. Y walked into the apartment one day after work and said, “Thimbleduckery flig bup.”
“What?” I asked.
She frowned at me and said, “Trefflewiggle.”
It might have been a question, so I shrugged. We went to bed.
The next day it continued. Over breakfast she said, “Lintrufflegup.”
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” I told her.
“LINTRUFFLEGUP!” she cried. “LINTRUFFLEGUP! LINTRUFFLEGUP!”
She stormed out.
I chased after her.“What are you talking about?”
She pointed to herself, to her mouth, to me. She said, “Yiddlewinterfum.”
I said, “Please, I don’t understand!”
She stormed off. We didn’t speak for six days.
She woke me up on the seventh day and brought me to an office building. There was a woman there, a therapist. She was no bigger than a toad but loud, so loud. When Y would speak to her, she’d turn to me and say:
“Nothing! That means nothing to me,” I said.
Her throat bulged and Y cried and ripped at her fingernails like she does when she is stressed.
“Humfliggerbumbletimbs means nothing to me!”
The therapist made a note on her paper.
I buried my face in my hands.
“Himplefudgernickelbin,” she said.
So, I called her a bitch.
Back in the apartment, Y took out her phone and held it between us. She started recording a voice memo and then pointed at me.
“What? What do you want?”
She stopped the recording and hit play.
I heard my own voice and it said, “Irtulliwimbletummy.” I frowned.
Y began to cry. Tears poured down her face and she sobbed and kept talking. “Flibberwumbletimber, jim-jum, stopplgint—”
“Stop!” I cried. “Stop!” And I realized I was crying too.
Y was looking around the room as though she’d lost something important. She ran to the desk and found a pen and paper, but when she put the pen to the page, she just drew squiggly lines all up and down. It looked like a children’s drawing of a headless snake. She held it up and pointed at it. “Linkertinderfuggle!” she sobbed.
I grabbed the paper and jabbed at the headless snake and told her, “This doesn’t mean anything! Why are you doing this?”
She tore the paper from my hand and threw it down. She didn’t pack her things right then and there, but she took Frank. She went and bent down and buried her face in his back and she cried and cried and cried. Then, with a newfound strength, she lifted him. Then she told me, “Gumble gerffdiggle.” And she took him. And she left.
She texted me many times after and when I opened my phone, I saw things like “Flitteryumble,”
I’d message back over and over, but god only knows what she saw.
It felt like someone had taken a year of my life out into a field and shot it in the back of the head. I didn’t drink anymore, so I became addicted to popcorn. And then I became addicted to oranges. And then I discovered that if you put orange seeds in the microwave, they pop into little popcorn-sized oranges. And so, I became addicted to those.
I called my mother. She answered, “Vistlgerbinskididdle?”
I hung up.
I threw my phone out of the window. I decided to move on, to leave my apartment. I packed my suitcase and locked the door.
Out on the street, a young girl with long black hair stopped and watched me. I waved. She gave me a thumbs up. I walked off into the fray.
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