Fred

by Didi Wood

I want to be Fred tonight, but Delia’s having none of that.

“Oh, please, not again,” she groans, snapping her book shut. She’s wearing her ex’s old Proclaimers t-shirt that she loves because it’s big and so so soft and not because it was his, not at all, but beneath it I glimpse – is it? yes – the frilled border of black lace panties.

I might have a chance tonight, if I don’t fuck it up. Coconut oil glistens on her collarbone, the smooth scent undercut by the sting of her Listerine breath. She takes dental health seriously, this girl, and sometimes it hurts to kiss her but still I do.

Oh, God, don’t fuck it up.

I used to be a twin, I told her on our second date, he died in an accident. She tilted her head and considered me, saying, But aren’t you still a twin, though? Like an alcoholic’s always an alcoholic? I don’t think that’s how it works. But maybe it is. Maybe I’m a recovering twin.

“I’m dating you,” she says now, snicking off the lamp, “not Fred.”

“Are you certain?” I nuzzle her ear. “How do you know? How do you really, really know?”

She rolls her eyes, rolls away, yanking the blanket around herself and off of me. People assume my parents were crazy about Harry Potter but that’s not true, my parents had no clue about Harry Potter, or books, or anything at all, really. We were named for the grandfathers, Fred for the one who built a thriving chain of specialty meat shops and me for the one who spent two years and five months in prison for fraud. Mistakes were made, was all he’d say when Fred and I begged for the story. He had a tattoo on his left bicep, a crude representation of a six-sided die, with seven dots on the facing side.

“What does it matter, anyway,” I whisper to the scratchy plaid armoring Delia’s back, “as long as it’s me, whatever I’m called, and I’m here with you?” I have no idea what I mean but it feels important to say it, lying there in the dark, blanketless, exposed. “I’m here,” I breathe.

No answer. I fucked it up.

Nice job, Fred.

George. I mean George. I’m George.

Didi Wood’s stories appear in Smokelong QuarterlyCotton XenomorphJellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, and elsewhere. She’s fond of the serial comma, board games, and creepy dolls. Often she is festooned with cats. Find her on Twitter @DidiWood.

Artwork by: J.E. Crum

J.E. Crum creates intensely vivid works using the method of automatism. The artist creates variations of the self-portrait with experiments in painting and drawing. Crum defines art to be a journey of self-discovery through personal narratives related to the philosophies and theories about fate, destiny and the meaning of dreams.

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