Two Stories: “Feelings” and “Kissy”


My roommate is a zombie freak. A theatre major, she’s taking the course on body craft that teaches zombie moves. Her favorite movies are I Walked with a Zombie and Dawn of the Living Dead.

I sit on my bed, sketchbook on my knees, and draw her practicing how to stumble and lurch. When I giggle, she says it isn’t funny, that Hollywood always needs actors who do zombies well. She says, “It’s not all make-up, blood and gore.” She stops mid-lurch and glowers at me. “Maybe I’m a zombie,” she says.

I laugh and point to her posters of Adele, The Kinks, and Taylor Swift. I tell her zombies are nothing like us. They don’t read or write, and they can’t even walk straight. “We’re not supposed to walk straight,” she says, lurching over to our closet, turning, and lurching back. Her arms dangle down, loose as a noose. As I sketch her straggly hair, she informs me that next fall her costume and makeup class is doing two weeks on zombies.

When she learns I applied for a new roommate for sophomore year, her feelings are hurt. I try to make a joke of it. “Zombies don’t have feelings,” I say. Her eyes narrow, go dead. She says, “So now you’re the one out for blood.” And then she laughs.



Kissy-I-love-her-name and I are at the local grocery, shoplifting stuff for the dorm party to celebrate getting the RA kicked off our floor. We ratted about her weed habit and her biker boyfriend crashing in her room every weekend, though we couldn’t care less.

Kissy-I-love-her-name is in the next aisle over. We meet at the back of the store, giggle, and flash each other the pockets of our oversized thrift-store trench coats. I have beef jerky, crackers and two cans of spray-on cheddar cheese. Kissy-I-Love-Her-Name has crackers and chips and also tampons, zit cream and shampoo I don’t question. She’s good at this activity because these items aren’t covered by her scholarship. She makes me cut her hair to save money. Her dad’s been laid off forever because he’s a mean drunk, and her mom left home the very same day Kissy left for college and postcards never come with money.

Kissy-I-love-her-name says the liquor store will be more of a challenge. Fake IDs don’t pay for booze. Our floor pooled our money. We have enough to buy two bottles of cheap gin. Kissy-I-love-her name uses her hand inside her pocket to lift two handles of gin and carefully amble out of the store. I hoist the gin, surprised at its weight. She’s been my shoplifting prof for the past year. I hope there are other things she’ll teach me. Kissy. I love her name.


Image: Zombie by Kate Marie, licensed under CC 2.0.

Pamela Painter
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