You will ignore the monstering at first. At least you’ll try, until you can ignore the growling, and the teeth, and the decay no more.
But before that you will change the sheets on which your best friend sleeps–sheets, you think, although it’s only a folded piece of tarp, the better to hose it down, dear, when you have access to running water. You will hose the tarp down. The sludge of decomposition, the black juice swirling down clogged drains.
Alphabet soup for breakfast? you’ll ask your best friend, who will rumble a reply you pretend is human speech. I scavenged it for you. Look, the can’s not even expired, not even dented.
Your best friend will rip the can open with pointy teeth. She will drink straight from its rim, not caring how the jagged metal cuts into her loosening skin. She will devour.
She was so hungry before the world ended. Too thin, counting carbs and calories, saying no when you offered to buy her vanilla soft serve after school, no, look at me, I really shouldn’t.
You will look at her. Tomato soup running red rivers down her unhinged jaw. The alphabet noodles sticking to her lips. Like placebo brains, you will think, unable to tear your eyes away from that still-soft, crimsoned mouth.
I’m so proud of you for eating, you will tell your best friend growing restless, growling ravenous in the recess of her throat. Hungry, she was always hungry. But weren’t you too?
You will open your own can of soup, fish the alphabet out carefully, letter by crumbling letter. Will remember playing Scrabble with your best friend on sun-hazed summer afternoons, pre-apocalypse. Making friendship bracelets of rainbow beads spelling out peace, love. Dedicating to each other fridge magnet poetry–those secret little messages you could always shrug off, deny, rearrange.
You will write her a poem now, on the scorched earth, the shrapnel-littered ground; on the folded tarp you use as sheets, stained with the monstering you can no longer ignore.
Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, Baltimore Review, matchbook, Wigleaf, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Longleaf Review, and other venues. Avra won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction, and placed third in Reflex Fiction’ Spring 2020 Competition. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.