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SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Title of Our Memoir

Story by Mara Aguilar-Erdman (Read author interview) December 18, 2023

Art by Benjamin Wedemeyer

My sister and I got drunk last night and played like we were girls. Under the small-town stars in my backyard, we took off our clothes, giggling and shushing each other as if we were trying not to wake our parents though it is my husband who is asleep inside the house.

My sister’s husband is asleep across town, unaware that she is cheating on him.

The night she told me, she’d asked to have a sleepover. We were smoking a bowl and eating Captain Crunch on my couch, watching Twilight even though we’re in our thirties and have  been described as ambitious, though only by people who don’t know us very well.

When she says, “I’m sleeping with Ethan,” I know better than to act shocked.

I nod and say, “Okay.” I ask, “How do you feel?”

She answers, “Horny. And a little heartbroken.”

I say, “That can be the title of our memoir.”

I say, “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

I say, “Fuck dude” and pass her the bowl.

Ten seconds later, Robert Pattinson covers his mouth when he scents Kristen Stewart and we laugh so hard. We laugh so, so hard.

We start spending every moment we can together. We run together, grocery shop together, we grab impromptu lunches in diners to eat prosciutto and talk about old crushes together.

Ryan Holloway. Jesus Christ, Ryan Holloway? Whatever happened to him?

Married

Overdosed

Designed the hovercraft the Green Goblin rides and runs his own Youtube channel

I tell her I’m not sure if I’m made for it either, marriage. She’s the only person I’ve ever been able to share my life with.

My sister is three years older and has always done things first: drugs, sex, derma-planing.

This just seems like one of those things–something that feels surreal but only because I’m the younger sister. Like how I once thought I’d never do LSD or give a blow job or like cilantro.

We’ve kept so many secrets between us, my sister and I.

I’ve taken off my clothes because I have to pee and I’ve worn a jumpsuit which you should only wear if you have the bladder of a camel or it has a butt flap. Someone should really be designing jumpsuits with butt flaps.

“I’m so jealous you don’t have to wear bras,” my sister says, staring at my small breasts as I crouch in the freshly mown grass. She doesn’t ask me why I’m peeing in the yard rather than the bathroom just inside. That’s my adult life in there, and I want to stay a child tonight. Just a minute longer.

She is doing jumping jacks because we get the zoomies when we’re drunk.

“She definitely has a crush on you,” she says, the undersides of her pale arms catching the moonlight as her body expands and contracts– naked, moonbrushed, and animal. She’s talking about Sammi, a girl I work with who rocks a blazer and a buzz cut and who came out for martinis with us tonight, ordering hers so dirty it’s filthy.

“Right?” I say, shaking off my pee drips. “I don’t want to do that thing where I assume everyone’s a little in love with me, but like, she touches my leg a lot?”

“And laughs at all your jokes.”

She’s still jumping so I begin to do lunges in front of her. I can’t be still while she moves. “That’s because I’m hilarious.”

“And magnetic. And so beautiful. A lot of people are a little in love with you.”

I always go to sleep smiling when she says stuff like that to me. Like hers is the only approval I’ve ever needed. “I think more people fall in love with you,” I say pointedly. “I try too hard. You’re like a down pillow. In a moonbeam. By the sea.”

“God, speaking of down, you know what I’ve been seriously craving lately?”

She stops jumping, and I pause my lunge to drape my arms on her shoulders. “What, my love? Whatever it is, you shall have it.”

She is older but shorter than me and the perfect height for me to rest my arms on. I told her this once and she said, that’s why I decided to stop growing. I believed that. Once, I remember being very young and shocked to see the moon out during the day. Your sister must have forgotten to turn it off last night, my mother said. I believed that. The first time I used a tampon, I yelled for her to please come do it for me. She wouldn’t, but she put one in herself crouched over the sink beside me so I could watch how. She wasn’t on her period and had to pull it out dry. That was real pain, we thought then, pulling out a dry tamp.

“A McChicken,” she says. “But I went to get one last week and it was like…” She makes a barfing noise. “But I’m still craving it.”

I move my hands to her super-soft cheeks to hold her face. “You know what you’re craving?” We both giggle a bit as I sway and slur my words. “The McChicken of your memory. The Mcstalgic McChicken.”

“That,” she says, leaning into a lunge, “can be the title of our memoir.” I gasp, thrilled, and leap into her. She gives almost no resistance before falling backward into the wet grass, my whole weight crashing on top of her. We land with a thud I know has knocked the wind out of her.

It is a bizarre thing, having the wind knocked out of you. You never knew it was even there until it’s something you’ve lost.

“I’m so sorry!” I whisper-shout.

But she is laughing beneath me. Laughing so hard I can feel her abs shaking, Laughing so hard, it is entirely possible she is crying.

“I’m so sorry,” I say again. “I thought you were steady.”

About the Author

Mara Aguilar-Erdman is an Asheville, NC native where she works as a crisis counselor for LGBTQ youth at risk of suicide and edits for Shenandoah Magazine. She received her MFA from Queens University in January 2023. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Rising Phoenix Review, Vestal Review, Unleash Press, and others and has been nominated for a Best of Net. She is the recipient of the Sullivan Writer’s Grant for excellence in Fiction and her short story placed 2nd in The Writer’s 2022 short story contest. She has attended Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference and Disquiet Literary Conference as a scholar and will be attending Tin House Workshop in November while entering the trenches of querying her debut novel, an excerpt of which is upcoming in EXCERPT Magazine.

About the Artist

Benjamin Wedemeyer is a filmmaker and photographer traveling the world.

This story appeared in Issue Eighty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighty-Two
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