UB by I. Fontana


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UB by I. Fontana


She doesnít want to have any problems. She doesnít want any trouble. She doesnít want anyone following her around. She thinks you have to be ready for trouble all the time. Walking across some bridge, she looks at the cars, the faces and hands visible through tinted glass. The sky is low, reflecting the water, which is green and gray, dark green with nodal lines bone and ash in shards of breaking light.
     Her hair is red. Itís not a natural shade. Her boyfriend likes it. She looks good. Sheís in his bathroom for a few moments. Itís a dangerous bathroom. Her face lingers in his mirror, as a quintuplet after-image. She puts on some blush. She likes to look different to herself, or to those other people -- itís better than being so indifferent all the time.
     And Billy just plays the same beat over and over on the piano: heís thinking about it real hard, making it more and then less staccato, varying an emphasis here and there. Frowning, he has pale, translucent skinÖ to such a point that sometimes he seems to be fading away. He hasnít combed his hair.
     She is listening to him play. The music makes her hungry. The only thing sheís had to eat today was one of those plastic things of yogurt. She doesnít know what flavor. Jukeberry or tigerberry, martian berry, david or da vinci berry, smite thine enemy berry or berry in your head. Fig berry, vagina berry, love me tenderberry love me not. It was red.
     Sometimes she wishes she was an animal, though she understands that animals have their problems too. Sheís gotten sort of addicted to having sex with Billy lately. It isnít just fucking. Thatís the problem. Itís almost everything he does. If he finds out she likes some of his music heíll stop playing it so much. He sticks his penis in her yogurt then gets distracted by some drumbeat in traffic or the flush of a toilet somewhere.
     Billy takes no responsibility for other peopleís actions. Heís got enough to worry about as it is. This piano has some broken keys. In the middle octave he canít play D-natural or A-flat. Heís learning to live with this. But heís not perfect. His fingers forget.
     She likes to sleep alone. She wants to be in her own bed, in her own room. She doesnít want to be disturbed by foreign bodies in the dark. She dreams about being captured and enslaved by barbarians, tied naked in front of a crowd. There are ziggurats and pyramids and earth-mounds here. She gasps when she is touched out of the sky.
     Another time it must be afternoon already and she needs to take a bath and wash her hair. She looks at the color as it hangs there, stringy, wet, dripping on the nape of her pale neck. Sheís itchy. She takes a long time shaving her armpits. The remainder of her pale skin is smooth and sleek.
     She puts on makeup while listening to a record. The sound is all blurred. She canít tell if someoneís singing or not. Itís good to have makeup on. It makes her feel different. Sheís got kind of a headache. Thereís a white tablet for that. She puts on more eyeliner in slow motion listening to the same song five times in a row.
     She calls up her friend Joolie, and they talk for an hour and a half. Then, tired of all of Joolieís problems, she says Iíve got to go and puts on violet tights under a miniskirt. The violet matches her eyes or something. She goes outside. The day is slowly flashing and brown. She canít stay inside all day. It makes her feel like sheís in jail. Sheís never been in jail.
     She doesnít mind getting wet. The rain is white and silvery and clear. It doesnít last. Sheís indifferent to the stares she gets. She notices some of them. She wants to get some stares. The light changes and she crosses the street. She looks at her reflection in the skin of a dark green carís hood. She doesnít know herself there.
     The sky is low and filled with silent, slowly crawling shapes. There are supposed to be planets on the other side of this sky. She puts a throat lozenge in her mouth and feels it start to melt and numb her tongue. Taste buds are stupid, she thinks. She doesnít want to worry about what flavorís coming next.
     Billy doesnít want to do all these dishes in the sink, but he will because somebody has to. He canít remember eating off any of these plates. Did they eat something red? Now itís turning brown in an evil glaze. Heís always hated this spoon. The piano is on his mind.
     Billy has had some big arguments about it with his friends. They donít properly appreciate the piano as an instrument. They think he should play something else, something he could fold into a briefcase and carry around with him in cars. Billy wants a piano made entirely of glass, with glass shards vibrating on the strings. He imagines a shimmering rainbow of sound. He wants a piano made of bronze, with the sonority of an ancient bell. He wants to slacken the tension on the strings and use glass rods to find his notes like playing a bottleneck guitar. He wants a piano with water in it, so that each note struck will cause a different tone-color splash. He wants a big piano with a circular keyboard: heíd sit in the center like a pilot -- if needed he could grow more arms.
     The sky is raining like an actress weeping big white tears from a big face full of emotion. Yes, itís all so sad. Big white tears flash in the wet brown day. The face just gets bigger and bigger, closer all the time. The tears sizzle on the sidewalk and turn to steam.
     She sees a creature down on all fours crawling around. She avoids it but it looks at her. Itís all backwards somehow. Its face has been switched with its ass. Is that pain in its eyes? Exultation? The asshole gapes and shows the strangest shades of red and pink and wet magenta when you gaze inside.
     She shows up at Billyís. The buzzer doesnít work. The elevator does, though it takes her to a different number floor at first. The geometric pattern of the rug doesnít look the same. She knocks on his door. But he doesnít answer. The dark brown door opens, mysteriously, and she goes inside. Thereís the piano, in shadows. Thereís the phony owl. Where is Billy? Hey, man, where are you? She looks in the refrigerator.
     In the bathroom, heís turning to jelly. The piano starts to vibrate. She looks over at it and wonders how you turn it off. She goes into the bathroom, with a knife. The shower curtain scares her.
     She sees something and doesnít know what it is. Itís breathing, red, alive. Itís like a baby with the juice still on but it isnít a baby. It isnít pretty. It opens one of its mouths Ė if those are mouths Ė and extends some kind of half-formed tentacle or arm.
     She sits down on the closed toilet seat and tries to understand. She doesnít understand. A knife flies around like some little bird.

I. Fontana has lived in Avignon, Guadalajara, NYC and now Portland, Oregon. Other work has appeared in BOMB, Bikini Girl, Pindeldyboz, PANK, Gigantic Magazine and previously on Spork Press.