Sprout

Gary wasn’t forthcoming with an explanation. I could hear him shrugging over the phone. “I mean…I guess we just wore out our welcome with each other. Y’know?”

I didn’t know. But I said I did. Gary waited a few seconds, said he hoped I got some sun this summer, and hung up.

I went outside and laid in the pile of potting soil on the front lawn, a seed waiting to sprout into something beautiful. I stared at the sky and I wished I was colorblind or that I heard flavors or anything more interesting than the boring, predictable human bean I was.

Caged tigers had more diverting routines than I did. I knew why Gary had called me instead of breaking up with me in person. He was sick of Rhodes’ Café, tired of the orange chicken at Egg Foo Yum, and probably never wanted to see a Saturn Coffee Company cup ever again.

I turned my head each way to look at my hands. I wasn’t sprouting yet.

Sighing, I rolled my head just in time to see Rufus and Yanna saunter up. As usual, a perfect leash-length separated them. Yanna yipped and scurried over to sniff the bottom of my shoes.

“Hi,” I said, barely raising my head.

Rufus stayed on the sidewalk. “What’s the matter? Your mom die or something?”

“Two years ago. And no. My boyfriend just broke up with me.”

I snuck a peek at Rufus’s long face. It actually fell a little. “Aww. Sorry to hear that. Yanna, get away from there.” Yanna’s snuffly pug nose was coming dangerously close to my mouth.

“It’s OK,” I said. “Gary was only alright. Dating him was like…sucking on an ice popsicle.”

Rufus chuckled. “Kinda thrilling, kinda boring.”

“Exactly.” I sat up on my elbows. “See, you get it! He wouldn’t have laughed at that. He probably would have looked down his tiny nose at me and said something like, ‘Nice one, wise guy.’ ”

“He was the, ah, muscley one, yeah?” Rufus gestured towards the driveway and Gary’s imaginary Mustang.

“Muscley. Yes. Apt description, if generous. Gary was the Crossfit bro who occasionally showed up in my driveway in a bus-yellow metal turd. Let’s not talk about him anymore.”

“OK,” Rufus said. “What do you wanna talk about instead?”

I rolled onto my knees and rubbed Yanna between her stubby ears before getting to my feet and facing Rufus with my hands on my hips.

“Cannibals,” I said. “Specifically, the presence of cannibals in our neighborhood.”