Olives for Ondreja

Courtney Kim

On my way home from work, I let the olives knock against my leg. Sirens

howl in tandem with the song of an evening bird. Voice lessons, I think. I finally stop

to buy some olives from that shop I always pass and it feels so invigorating, like the

man sold me more time in this little plastic bag. I transfer them to the brown paper

sack (left over from my lunch) so that they drip down my pant leg. Olives aren’t for

me, but these olives are for Ondreja, and I want them to be more special than

something bought from a shop.

You don’t care where I work. How could you? I don’t care for the fact that I

can’t talk to anyone about it, so you shouldn’t have any reason.

My beautiful wife, Ondreja, might be home. I’m quite sure that I have the

most beautiful wife in the world, and haven’t you heard that before? But Ondreja

might not be home. In that case, I carry these olives, this life in a bag, for nothing but

the dollar-and- a-half that I paid for them. This is a cheap life I let drip down my leg.

The drip is so important, though. The brine seeps through my corduroys to coldly

poke my leg.

Perhaps Ondreja is in front of a fire, a fire she’s built for warmth while she reads my

journal on the chaise lounge; the one that she picked out and paid for; the one that I

fall asleep on every night. I’ll march in, greasy khakis or flannels or whatever you

call what I’ve got on. In the morning our chaise lounge will be just enough for us

both to happily greet the day at ease. I know better than to get too carried away with

expectations like these.

Walking was a pastime he had forgotten about. He didn’t enjoy walks or notice

anything spectacular around his trek. When he got home, he would feed the dog, he

thought.

Few windows are lit in the tenements before the highway. I used to live in

something like that. Occasionally, I’ll see a lit one go dark and I appreciate those rare

nights. When my eyes catch another life retiring for the evening, it makes me feel as

if I turned out the lights. I imagine it’s awfully noisy in those apartments, and I trick

myself into believing I’d cherish the noise. My flimsy collar licks my neck, guarded

by my stupid, stupid collar, pulled tight as I slip into the tunnel under the highway.

When the tunnel spits me out between trees, my collar protects me. My

hands are soaked in salty funk from the olive sack. With each stride, I can smell the

brine on Ondreja’s breath as the pickled fumes waft up from my pant leg.

I mess around with the keys at my door, a bit astonished because I think I see

the back of her head there through the slim window. The crackling embers cannot

hide when I enter. Sure enough, the slam of the door behind me triggers Ondreja to

look my way. There she is on the chaise, just as I thought. My journal is tucked below

her thigh, but in a way that she must want me to notice.

She is the pit of my life. She’ll eat the meat of these olives I’ve carried, and I’ll

live the life of the brine. My favorite picture above the chaise has fallen crooked

again. It is a shot of a trail through olive trees in Turkey. The branches are mangled

just so that the trees are the most beautiful trees I’ve ever laid eyes on. As I lean in

and kiss Ondreja, the pit of my life that is so succinctly summed up by a dripping sack of olives, I worry as I must, that I will never get to see the tree my olives come

from.

She walks off to our room. Lending her joints to cabaret a bit, like I should

follow, though I won’t. The chaise is comfortable and the bag on my lap has my hand,

feeling for a soft one.

In my mouth, the flesh slips from the pit, it slips in parts with ease. I want to

swallow the pit, but I can’t. Around me, the coffee table, the carpet, the crevasse of

the chaise, nothing will accept the pit; I can’t spit it out. My tongue’s none too

pleased, but it’ll find a way to get along with pit. I can’t put it down, and there’s no

right place to spit it up.

Walking was a pastime he’d forgotten about, but the snow blew hard enough

to remember how long it had been since he’d enjoyed a walk. When he got home,

he’d listen to his favorite recording of Romeo and Juliet, and feed the dog.