Me and You
You were always very sweet. I was waiting for my dad on the top of the stairs of the third floor, scratching at the peeling wallpaper, and you came up to me and said, “Don’t do that. You’ll get icky.” You tried to put the wallpaper back and got mad when you couldn’t. You beat on the wall with your hands. You turned to me and your eyes were wet and you said, “I’m sorry. I couldn’t put it back. Are you mad at me?” I said no, I said, “I don’t want to be mad. You’re nice.” You beamed and sat down beside me on the stairs. You said, “Hi.” I said hi. You said, “My name is Brittany, do you have a name?” I told you my dad called me George, and you laughed and said, “George! George George George!” Your mom came around and you said “Mommy I have a friend, look! His dad calls him George! What does my dad call me?” She smiled at me but it didn’t look real. She said to you, “That’s very nice, we have to go okay? We’re in a hurry.” You moved to her coat. You didn’t look happy. “You can play with George later.” You disappeared down the stairs, waving back to me before she pulled you all the way gone. When my dad finally came I said, “Dad! I met a friend here, her name’s Brittany! Does she live here? Do you know any Brittanys?” He said he didn’t, but we would have to look out for her later sometime. I asked if he thought we would find her, and he said yes, we will, but later. We went down the stairs, out of the building, around the pile of dirty snow, to the bus stop, on the bus, and over to daycare, and the whole time I looked for you because I thought maybe if I looked hard enough you would be standing on the sidewalk or around a corner.
*You were by the mailboxes with your mom when I saw you next week. You were wearing a green hat. I squealed when I saw you and said, “Brittany Brittany!” You ran up to me and said you were happy I was there because you’d forgotten what my face looked like. I pointed to my head and said, “It looks like this. Will you remember next time?” You said yes. This time your mom watched us. Then she bent down and said things into your ear. Your eyes got so big. You said to me, “Where do you live? Because I live in three oh five. Can I know where you live please?” I told you three oh two and you said okay.
*My dad made me knock on your door the next day. Your mom opened the door little and smiled when she saw me. I liked it this time. She said hello and took off the chain and opened the door big. My dad pushed my shoulder and I asked if Brittany was home. She said yes. She told us to come in and my dad started talking with her.
You were in the living room playing and you looked happy when you saw me. You were showing me your Legos when I heard a big banging from the couch. I got scared and yelled. You said “No! It’s just the radiator. Mom says ours is broken but it can’t hurt us.” Oh, I said. Okay. The banging kept coming and I thought I’d cry some because the noise was so loud and everywhere but then you said, “Here, look. Watch, I’ll be safe.” You lay down next to the couch and pushed yourself under it. I thought you were gone for sure but then you said, “See! I’m all safe, and guess what, I’m going to show you something nifty but you have to be here to see it.”
I was scared but I knew if you were in trouble then I had to help and so I had to come no matter what. I lay down and pushed myself under the couch. It was dark next to you, really really dark, because the couch had flaps that covered it to the floor. The radiator banged and I almost made a yell but you said sshhh guess what. And I said what and you said, “Look up it’s like we’re in space.” I looked and didn’t yell and even though all I could see was really dark, it was like the dark was twisting. I thought I saw colors, like dots of them. There was purple, and green, and blue.
*A few hours later back in our apartment, I wanted to show my dad what you showed me. He was in his room. Or maybe he wasn’t? Sometimes he went out and didn’t tell me where he went. But I went up to his door and there was music coming out. Loud music. I knocked on the door and said “Dad?” but I just heard music. I thought maybe he’d gone and forgotten about it but then I heard him say, “Go to sleep,” and then the music got louder. “Daaad!” I said again. The music stopped. “Go to sleep!” he said, and the music started again and I ran into the living room and I tried lying under the couch but I couldn’t fit, ours was lower, instead I got stuck. I wiggled a lot but my sides were hooked in under the couch. It hurt. I said, “Dad? Daaad?!” and he didn’t come and then after a while I started screaming. “HELLLP! I’M STUCKK! DADDDD!” I screamed and I started crying too and I waved my arms and wiggled my sides and kept screaming and screaming but nothing happened. I did that for a long time. Then I let my legs go still and I felt the cool of the floor on my skin. I did that and I remembered your face. I remembered your face. I lay there quiet until after a while my dad came out of his room, naked and muttering and with his eyes going crazy.
*You knocked on my door to tell me you were going away. My dad let you in even though your mom wasn’t there. You said your mom didn’t tell you why, but that she’d yelled at you when she didn’t ever and she was renting a van tomorrow and she looked really sad. I said that means we won’t see each other ever again and you curled your fingers in the top of your hands and your eyes scrunched and you said, “We won’t! It’s stupid! It’s really really really stupid!”
My dad was listening. He felt bad. He got out a camera and told us to smile and took dozens of pictures of me and you. He gave you the film when he was done and told you to develop it someday. I cried because you had something to remember me by and I didn’t, so you took off your shoes, and then your socks. They were black. You smiled and said, “Here! These are for you!” We moved soon too a little later. I thought about us, and your socks again, and if your mom asked where'd they go.
Casey Plett has been a columnist for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and was a contributor to the Topside Press anthology The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard. Her work has also appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Line Zero, Cavalier Literary Couture, and the Manitoban. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada and loves Miriam Toews with a vengeance.