Natalie Lind Writes It All Down For Posterity #12

By Anna Chastain

I’m losing my voice, Toby says, stirring vanilla soft serve into a glass of whole milk.”If you’re sick you don’t want to drink that,” Bernadette says. “Dairy creates mucus.”

“I don’t have mucus,” Toby says. “What I have is a cough.”

“I talked to Jean-Baptiste yesterday, when he got back from his little Thanksgiving with Christa’s family in New York,” Bernadette says to me. “You know he has photographs of her dressed as Gala Dali: I think that’s very weird. He’s put them on his wall.”

“Did you ask him about Toby?” I say. Toby looks across at me so I offer him half of my bagel, which I think is cinnamon raisin, which he declines.

“Well yeah I asked, but he’s like ‘I tell you something, you tell me something’ but I wasn’t going to tell him what kind of shampoo Kesia uses so we sort of hit a wall.” Bernadette lifts her right eyebrow at Toby and tells him he should just tell her if he’s got some kind of secret. Toby opens his mouth like an ineffectual fish and then shuts it again and then starts drinking his milkshake.

When Warren, Jeff and Kesia sit down, Jeff is in the middle of an update on his eyelid twitch problem. He claims he can lull it into inactivity if he blares David Bowie out the stereo system in his room. Warren claims that’s the stupidest thing he’s heard in at least a day and a half and Jeff offers to demonstrate anytime before 10pm.

“I’ve never even seen the twitch,” Warren says. “Is it doing it now?”

“Not right now.” Jeff says. “And it’s my eyelid. Why do people think they can see my eyelid move from way over there.”

“Warren’s vision is better than 20-20,” Toby says.

“No one has vision better than 20-20, do they? Does that mean you wear contacts?” Kesia tries to look Warren in the eye but he’s concentrating on his mashed potatoes. And then Kesia says, “So where were you last night, Bernadette?”

I look at Kesia, because I thought we’d decided to let these things go. Everyone else looks at Bernadette. Except that Warren is still in a stare-down with his food.

Bernadette swallows some soda a little too quickly and says, “I don’t know what you mean: I came home. I slept in my bed.”

Kesia shrugs. “When you come in at 4am Tuesday night and fall over the guest chair I’d think you’d expect a few questions. Did you see her last night, Jeff?”

“No.” Jeff plays it cool; he pulls a roll into three pieces and makes eye contact with Kesia.

Toby starts coughing.

Bernadette says, “Turn around and cough behind yourself: I don’t want you getting us sick.” She asks if any of us need something else to drink, and walks off to get some grape juice to go with her fries.

“Look, I know how things are,” Jeff says. “And it’s my decision, right?”

Kesia looks at me and I shrug. Kesia says, “I don’t think people should have to put up with shit.” And then she looks confused, because obviously people have to put up with shit. And then she says, “I’ve been having some issues with Bernadette, but whatever; as long as it’s OK with you.”

Jeff doesn’t respond.

Warren says, “So, Jeff, does anyone on your floor have scabies yet?”

“No.” He looks at us flatly. He thinks for a minute. He says, “I thought about saying ‘me,’ but you people aren’t very calm.