I keep microwaving water while she, my roommate, stands in her periwinkle terrycloth bathrobe, telling me about how the world is going to end.
“Don’t you get it? Haven’t you noticed? The heat keeps rising and the sirens are more frequent now. Especially in the mornings.”
I take teabags from the orange cardboard box. Our neighbor, who has the same name as me, comes in the front door. She’s holding a violin case. We say our name, greeting each other.
I assume there’s a violin in the violin case, but I’m more excited about her other gift a plenty: a Styrofoam carton of twelve eggs. “Great!” We’d planned this: omelets for the morning. They’re brown eggs, organic, because my neighbor loves farmers markets.
My roommate slinks off as my namesake and I begin cracking the brown eggs on the edges of bowls.
I bought mushrooms the day before, non-organic because I’m cheap, and take those out, to clean with a paper towel and chop up. A few plump tomatoes, too. “I love a good omelet,” my namesake neighbor says.
I have another roommate. She thinks our roommate is crazy and that we should turn her in . . . to someone. She isn’t really thinking of doing it. I think what she really wants to do is just kick our roommate out and put up an ad on Craig’s List for a new one, who doesn’t drift to the windows every time a siren passes by, afraid it’s someone we know down there.
I always handle our roommate. She can’t be babied, or else she’ll never learn that despite everything, the world is an okay place. I’ll bring her an omelet later, curl under the down comforter with her and tell her about a dream I once had. “I was on a New York subway car with my parents and my aunt and uncle.
It was a dining car though, which they don’t have in New York. One of us notices that it’s taking an awful long time to get to Grand Central, that hey, the last stop was 33rd and more time than usual has passed and we’re not there yet. A lot of other people are noticing this. And then we see out of the front window — I guess we’re in the first car — the first shadings of a light. It’s another subway car coming to meet us head on. And it’s just quiet and my head and heart are throbbing, thinkingwhat! but I calm myself. Because this is what is going to happen. And I’ve decided it’s okay, because there’s nothing I can do. Then I woke up.”
“Of course, you can’t die in a dream,” she’ll say.
“But think. Dying is just like going to sleep, I bet. And you know how you never are aware of those few seconds before you go to sleep? That’s what dying is like, I bet. You won’t even know it. You’ll never know it when you die, that you’re dying.”
“Oh,” she’ll say. Or maybe she’ll argue another point. I’ve never talked to anyone who died, so I’ll just have to go back and forth with her, they’re only my theories.
“Well, I think I’d like to die in my sleep, anyways. Extra unaware then. Wouldn’t you.”
We’ll have the comforter wrapped around us so that only our neckless heads are there. “No,” I’ll say, “I’d rather like to die in a ballgown.”
“Oh!” She’ll like that. “What color?”
“The color of crushed raspberries.” We’ll stay in bed talking about ballgowns and then skinny-dipping and then names — good names for children, characters in epic novels, or dogs — and suddenly it will be dark out. My namesake neighbor is long gone with her violin, we’ll peel ourselves out of bed and go outside to walk on the pavement — pavement so indifferent to us — in short sleeves or short dresses, because it’s getting warm out.