I come back home out of breath and unbearably sad. I look for Skippy. “Skippy, where are you?” I say. “Skippy?” I search the common room, the kitchenette, my bedroom, under the couch, the windowsill, my desk, and for reasons I cannot fully justify, the freezer. Skippy is nowhere to be found. “Skippy?” I say, pressing my ear against the refrigerator door to make sure I haven’t lost my mind. “It’s me!” Skippy sounds both hoarse and nasal. I open the fridge to find Skippy pressed up against the Pyrex. The Pyrex has been casing a sweet potato casserole since Christmas. It’s March. Gooey marshmallow topping along the edges has crusted, spoiled and sulphurous. I yank Skippy out and dab her with lavender-scented cleansing wipes. “I’m so sorry.” Skippy looks sad. Condensed moisture drips from her body like tears. I’ve been leaving Skippy all over the place since As-If Boyfriend broke up with me.
Skippy and I don’t discuss my misdemeanor any further. We settle on the couch and watch the Dawson’s Creek episode where a major hurricane moves inland and everybody hides out in the Leery beach house. A moment. Dawson learns about his mother’s affair and I almost twist Skippy’s lid open to scoop a bite. But a waft of the spoiled, sulphurous casserole—and my reflexes pull me back with violence. I don’t tell Skippy about the smell. I catch her looking at me between scenes, disappointed. Everybody’s tormented. Dawson, Skippy. As-If Boyfriend. Even me. Before I know it, I’m in tears myself. Skippy clears her throat. “You know what would help right now?” I know, Skippy. I know. I try not to think about the last thing As-If Boyfriend said to me—what was it? I feel a wave of treacherous impulse come over me—no, no, oh, fuck it, I twist Skippy’s lid, and swirl my finger around her creamy liquid gold filling and bring it up to my mouth. I do this again, swirl, lift, suck, repeat. “Go easy!” Skippy says. I ignore Skippy. Skippy can be as judgmental as she is charitable.
I get up to bring a spoon from the kitchen drawer. “Control yourself, woman!” Skippy screams into the void. I twist the spoon inside of her, scooping carefully around the edges.
In the past I’ve found holding Skippy under running water helps loosen the peanut butter from the surface. I bring Skippy to the sink and wait for the water to reach the right temperature. Skippy looks up at me, horrified. I feel embarrassed for the both of us.
I think of the best place to leave Skippy. Under the couch, behind the stack of unread periodicals, in the freezer, inside the potted plant, in the medicine cabinet. Finally, I bury her in Recycling, among her 9oz plastic brothers and sisters. Skippy doesn’t utter a sound.
I move back to the couch, watch the episode where Dawson plans a séance for the whole group.
Then: a soft sigh from Recycling.
Gauraa Shekar is a writer of color, currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at Columbia University. Her short story “Other Significant Others” was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Francine Ringold Award for New Writers. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod Journal, Contrary, Sonora Review, Fiction Southeast, X-R-A-Y, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse.