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User Profile for the Recently Bereaved

I’m looking for

the way it feels to stand behind doors sliding shut on a train to Ikebukuro and you bow goodbye to me from the platform and I bow to you. I am on my way to that monster cafe we loved, where the slippers they gave us were fuzzy and green with small yellow talons, and you looked like a child come out of a storybook then, balancing on tiptoe, but sitting across from me at the table, you were just a man. The root beer floats had rubber eyeballs popped on the straws. One eye, blue and mean, caught between your teeth.

The way to win me over is

the stationary shop, let’s wait out the rain, you said, our tongues sweet with vanilla-rum. I picked up memo pads with smiling cats on the pages. Happy Birthday, Congratulations. You bought gel pens of varying line thickness, traced my profile on a sheet of newsprint, but only the outside of me and said this is Contour. When I stared at the space like my body was a house I’d just moved into, wondering how you would fill it, you shook your head.   

The highlight of my day is usually

lunchtime, looking out my office window. A woman walks her dalmatian past the maple trees and sometimes she will take her dog’s paws, lift him up. They dance on the sidewalk like that, for one full minute, and when the dog tires of the two-step, it rolls in the grass, belly up. Old style, you used to call it, putting your hands on my waist to teach me.

A random fact I love is

Hachiko’s memorial outside Shibuya Station. Now it’s a place where tourists line up for pictures, touching his bronze paws, or where drunk salarymen congregate half-asleep at dawn. But every day for nine years and nine months, exactly at the train’s moment of arrival, he waited for his person, even in death. 

I know the best spot in town for

weeping. It’s at the bus terminal in Shinjuku, best if I’m crouched between the lockers and payphone, too drunk to care if the palm reader asking for my hand is a fraud. What are heartlines? What is a life? My palms are exposed and creased with dirt. I offer them up, and the palm reader tells me you are alone in this country, as if it’s a revelation.

Favorite holiday tradition

Tiny Gracie, she is called. The cake topper for my sister’s 10th birthday is a smiling wax girl in a blue dress. After I sing Feliz Cumpleaños a ti over Facetime, my sister balances Tiny Gracie on the kitchen island, sets her on a paper plate raft and her small hands are the waves and the waves hold both of us.

Go-to karaoke song

Name anything by The Cure and I will sing it for you. I will sing Pictures of You. I will sing you were bigger and brighter and wider than snow.

I’ll fall for you if

you lead me through the rooms of your house when the power goes out, my hand in yours. If we take wide-slow steps like we are deep sea divers learning how to walk. If I cannot see your face. If you say, baby, say everything is fine.

My most irrational fear

is that it won’t be illness that gets us in the end. It will be a mouth opening deep in the earth with teeth jutting from the base of its throat, and you falling in, quick and brutal.

The one thing I’d love to know about you is

how you get through the worst of it. How do you not keep the TV on through the night, so the brush of static is like a hand in your hair, and it is close enough for you to call it a haunting? And how do you not look for signs in every winged creature? The praying mantis that sticks to your windshield as you drive too fast on the interstate back home. The dragonfly that lands on your chest pocket like a new button, stays there for hours. Tell me. How you love the world so much, even when it breaks your heart.

I’m convinced that

my sister was right when she said to speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend. I was wrong about my contour. My body was not a house. It was a landscape in winter but light existed in me too.

All that I ask is that you

teach me how to draw, not like the Italian masters, but like a child. I am not trying to make a beautiful thing yet. I want the grit of vine charcoal under my nails. I want the formless sweep of many lines on top of each other, the rise and fall of shapes like breath, yours, mine. Here, alive.

Jessica Cavero is a writer living in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Barren Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Wigleaf and elsewhere. You can read more of her work on Her Twitter is @itangeishatrash. She is currently working on a novella.

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