“Enrique’s Funeral”

In a wood-shaving filled glass box, a pet rat gives birth. We all hope that she will not devour her young. We’ve buried Enrique and suspect that Justin has just smoked crack in the bathroom: he talks too quickly, eyelashes-aflutter, and sweats profusely. He tells us all about that pile of towels still on the bathroom floor, that Enrique would have hated it, so fastidious, that he would have hated that his stubble is still on the sink, little black bits like the scraps of magnetized metal in the old draw-a-beard games. Once he made the Labyrinth, Minotaur in its angular heart, on an Etch-a-Sketch: he was that talented. I open the cake that Lily bought on impulse. She got it, cheap, because it was for Robby’s birthday –nine years old — but apparently Robby didn’t show. The pissed-off baker gave it to her half-price. A plastic surfer in red and yellow hibiscus-patterned trunks rides a Windex-colored sugar wave. People have brought pictures of Enrique, we could make a shrine of Polaroids and computer print-outs and bar-booth quarter-operated black-and-white photo strips. There’s one formal portrait where he vaguely resembles both Tito Puente and Habermas. I wonder if the plastic surfer could be a token on an inadvertant ofrenda. Justin’s sweat threatens to drip onto the frosting.

In the morning, a cousin leaps off a bridge. Some will speculate that she fell looking for somewhere to jump. The place on the surface of the water that embraced her will dissolve her outline instantly, the reverse of the once-developing Polaroid bringing Enrique’s smile into focus, a shining magenta shirt, black slicked-back hair. The rosewater pomade is in the medicine cabinet, still.

 

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Erika Mikkalo

About Erika Mikkalo

Erika Mikkalo received the Tobias Wolff Award for short fiction, and has appeared in Nimrod, Exquisite Corpse, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Columbia Review, The Notre Dame Review, fence, Another Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Review, and other publications.