Password by Dena Rash Guzman

“Everybody wants perspective from a hill,
but everybody’s wants can’t make it
past the windowsill.”
—Silver Jews, Pretty Eyes
Bags mostly packed. Panties still not dry. I reach for the blowdryer to finish them off; there's more on my mind than impending travel, or the lyrics of that song I liked enough to try to remember, or damp lingerie. There's an unexpected thought, a wholly unfamiliar vision. An invading army crosses the meridian of my medial temporal lobe, the nursery where infant memories incubate, where the mortality rate is high; where things are left to die, exposed to the elements of everything else.

Doesn’t it seem like everything has been written about. What else can I say that no one has said? Done? I hate writers. I miss my cat. The cat is nice. The girl with red hair and yellow thong.

I stop, look in the mirror, ask myself, “What?”

There’s no room, now, for the lyrics. I ask you about the girl with the yellow thong. You're behind the glowing Apple of your laptop. You look at me, quiet like a dead man.

I throw the panties in the wastebasket. I don’t need them that badly. I have a hundred more like them at home. None of them are thongs. I didn’t know you liked thongs. You said they look sad on the floor and to never wear them.

I say, “Porn?” I know, though. I feel dizzy and black, afraid. I see the business of your brain, exposed. I have to leave for the airport in one hour. You're relieved that I'm going. Too much money, too much trouble. Glad she's leaving. Will miss her in a few but now, no. Grateful for the oxygen she doesn't use; she uses so much.

“I breathe too much? Sorry for breathing, Brian.”

That’s not what I meant.

I can’t breathe now, at all. I dress: pants, bra, socks, boots. No panties, I threw them all away. T-shirt, sweater. My brain shuffles. No, your brain. Yours.

What the fuck.

A girl we both know. You're trying to hide her away, put her up safe like a refugee, harbor her in a safer port. I feel terrible. There’s no room now. My hippocampus is drowning. I need an ark.

Shit, shit.

I find myself looking through your spank bank, like I'm at a clothing store, flipping through the racks, trying to find something in my size. I see every woman ever, but I don’t see myself. I see the yellow thong-redhead. You're grabbing her, pulling her head to your face.

I wish Emily were younger, at least she could lie about her age to my mates.

“You wish I was younger? I wish you’d quit wearing jewelry. I can’t do anything about my age, but you can stop being so fay. And 'mates?' What are you, a sailor? I hate how you say cheers. It’s the worst of affectations. You’re from a desert.”

What's her problem with jewelry? Bill Clinton wore a friendship bracelet, too. She likes him well enough. The way she thinks America belongs to her more than anyone else. I hate America. She’s been in my email. I need to change my password. Maybe to 1786catwoman.

“What? Why catwoman? I haven’t been in your email. Stop thinking. I can see everything. Stop it.”

I don’t know how to stop thinking. How do you stop thinking? I always think.

Your head is huge on your shoulders, suddenly. I look at your nose, unable to look in your eyes. Your nostrils flare, your huge head looks like a racehorse’s.

I consider the options.

1) subdue you, tie you up, read your mind like a book
2) vomit, collapse in a heap of despair, depressive episode following
3) get as far away from you as I can to see if it will stop

I consider possible causes.

1) I am a witch with late onset psychic magickal powers
2) last night I hit my head on the bathroom counter
3) Mayans

I rush, faster. Faster. I have to get out of this room. I grab at everything I haven’t packed and shove it into the front pocket of my suitcase; I’ll sort it out at the airport.

Get out, you say. Then you think, flowers flowers blue yellow purple purple.

Those are pretty flowers. I like flowers. Keep thinking about flowers. I try to say it calmly, I try to be clean and straight, but then you tell me you want you want me to leave. Abandonment.

Get out of my head.

“What did this?” I am more frantic, I can’t find my other earring. I want to get out. It’s a diamond, I should really find it. I look to ask you if you've seen it, then decide not to bother with talk.

By the alarm clock, right behind the water glass. I saw it and thought, she'll need this in the morning. She never puts things in their proper places.

God! Why so negative?

Leonard Cohen is in a white suit, next to an AC, a red popsicle in his hand. He’s old. Write a poem. Get away. Get her away.

“Why don’t you get away?” I’m pissed. “Why is it my fault? Why is this my fault? What is the malfunction in your neurology? Go downstairs and see if the doorman can read your mind. Go think he’s a worthless piece of knob polishing shit and see what happens. See if he knows. Go.”

You go. The door shuts and there is a thing, a thing like silence. The thing is bigger than silence.

I know this, ferociously. I do not love you. I only want you to love me. My nose begins to bleed. I shove tissue up inside my nostril; I’m ready to leave. Suitcase in hand, purse over shoulder. I wheel out the door and down the hall. You are standing near the elevator, crying.

I'm so sorry.

You look up. Your face is destroyed. I push the button to go down. I look at you.

He could hear me think. He heard me. Now the doorman hates me. Marie. Emily. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.

“I’m leaving. I doubt Marie will like this any more than you, or I, or the doorman.”

I step into the elevator. I burst into tears, unknowing what happened. I know. I am never going to see you again.

I walk past the doorman, whose thoughts I can’t see. I get in the taxi and direct the driver.

Dena Rash Guzman is a Las Vegas born author living and working on a farm outside Portland, Oregon. A collection of her short stories is due in 2012 from Shanghai's independent English language press, Haliterature ( She edits the literary journal Unshod Quills (