Endless Sympathy
Megan Martin

Right now a party is occurring in a cream-colored living room where the birthday girl has a hole in the toe of her stocking and she is fucking pissed that the guest of honor is a wild mushroom tart.

I am not at this party; I have been to them.

At the last one there was like a psychopath's shrine of cheeses. They had been given name tags and stood with impeccable posture on a hierarchical silver platter as they were photographed professionally.

I said to the hostess: My, what a gentrified composition of cheeses!

There was a nervous collective titter like dying animals. I had not wanted to spend money on a wine outfit, and now I understood the itchy payback of cheap fabrics. Guests went back to making opinionated comments they had plagiarized from the newspaper or public radio about how the presence of public school teachers in their neighborhoods was lowering their property values.

I wanted to cry: I am too young to have anything to say about real estate! I hope never to have anything to say about it!

But I stood alone and silent and childlike alongside the detestable cheeses, stabbing each several times with my toothpick before jabbing it into my mouth. They squished pleasantly between my teeth, even the super blue ones I despised; I felt them smile inside me like a pregnancy. My reflection in the gorgeous empty platter was gruesome; it fortified and repaired the world.

It is very important but also very undesirable to have endless sympathy for oneself, I thought.

I had known these people all my adult life and would never see them again.

Megan Martin is the author of a collection of hybrid prose from Gold Wake Press, SPARROW & OTHER EULOGIES. She has stuff in or coming from Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Hobart, The Collagist and others.

Detail of collage on main page courtesy of daradaradesign.

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