Mary cries as she flushes my redcap bump and kisses her rosary.
I lay, dusty bones in a flesh sack, whispering curses.
The room tilts; my pillow and my head drift down and down.
Through the frosted apartment window I watch Mary scraping rubber soles over asphalt where the food cart steams and bald blackbeard forks wet meat from a square of blackness. Mary is smiling, straining, speaking. Her black hair is lifted by the wind and briefly hides her face. It becomes a smear of black and gray, a sail free from its mizzenmast.
I look at Baby Biscuit licking his wet food and he purrs. I stroke his spine. He puts his paws forward and his tail spirals and he looks at me, narrows his eyes. He cries. His white chin is wet with gravy. His eyes are black orbs reflecting me, my skeletal, prematurely aged face frowning.
Baby Biscuit has scratched a bald spot on his head. It has cherried as a scab that I pick with my nail.
Mary unfolds the grease-stained bag. She lays out the grilled pita, unclasps the foam yogurt cup and snaps a can of vegetable juice. She scratches her red-raw nose and sniffs.
The grease smell comes.
Baby Biscuit flits to her on pink pads, jumps, curls himself tightly into the hole of Mary's folded legs.
Mary rips pita with flashing teeth, dips it in yogurt, chews, her throat muscles tensing.
Mary stands over me, the spinning blades of the ceiling fan haloing her with rhythmic light. She is cradling Baby Biscuit to her breasts. "Get up and eat," she says.
I grind teeth and chew the cankered flesh of my jaw and the springs in the mattress shriek.
The room sways beneath me like a subway car issuing down the line. I elbow myself from carpet to linoleum, my red hair falling forward like autumn leaves falling. When I reach Mary, I kiss her feet.
Jason Ray Carney teaches literature and creative writing at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.