Gina hasn’t reconciled her checkbook in months but she knows she has plenty of money. She didn’t even worry about writing a check to the dentist for $3,175 last week, a check to cover two crowns, a filling and a prescription for Percocet. No matter that the dentist told her she could no longer eat sugar. No matter that he also gave her a prescription for special toothpaste to combat her aggressive tooth decay. Gina crossed her fingers behind her back when she agreed that candy was a thing of the past. Soda was okay, Gina only drank diet soda, but no way was she going to give up atomic fireballs, it just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe if the dentist said she was going to die, but he didn’t say that.
Gina knew her money was in good shape because whenever she went to the bank they tried to send her over to the new accounts desk to buy a money market, or do something with all the money in her checking account. Gina never did this. She liked knowing she could buy almost anything she wanted at the drop of a hat, including putting a deposit down on a small condo by the water. She worried because her ex-husband could still access her account but she didn’t think he was smart enough to remember that and didn’t think he was foolish enough to do anything anyway. She also had access to his account.
Her ex-husband had been a mean man. He had been a petty man. He had never brought Gina candy after their third date, which was 13 years ago and part of the reason he was now her ex-husband. One time for Christmas he bought her a vacuum. He never brought Gina flowers, not even for her birthday. Gina used to agonize over getting him the perfect gifts but after he moved out she found some of them in the garage, still in the original boxes. If she had the energy to have a garage sale she would have given everything away for 25 cents and then sent him the proceeds. But she didn’t have the energy, so the boxes stayed in the garage along with two carseats from years ago, a bassinet, some unopened wedding gifts and many cans of paint.
Gina had lovers according to the days of the week. They were all wonderful men with different qualities, and they were all only available on those specific days. They all knew that she loved candy, and each one brought her something different. Gina didn’t always eat it, not right then, so she had a hidden drawer where she could store the sweets. When she was feeling a little down she would look in the drawer and know there were men who thought she was wonderful, at least they thought of her when they stopped to buy beer and they got something for her as well.
That worked very well for her quite honestly. She liked having control of her life. She liked that there were man-shoes in her house but they did not stay there. It drove her family crazy. They wanted Gina to have someone to take care of her and they wanted someone she could celebrate holidays with and bring to her office Christmas party, but she was perfectly fine sending her men off with a kiss before going to sleep and starting a new day. Although she was a morning person she was perfectly happy saying good morning to herself in the mirror as she brushed her teeth, perfectly happy drinking coffee on her own while watching the Today Show and perfectly happy not having anyone around in the daylight to judge her and comment on her imperfections.
(Forge Journal, December 2008)
Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee. Her Slices of Alice, 21 one-page slices, were published beginning to end in Bellowing Ark. All of her other slices are only one page. Tobi’s latest chapbook is Surface Effects in Winter Wind, published by Kindred Spirit Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review, www.sprreview.com. Even though she is not Gina, she also likes candy.