Marsupial, the Lowly Mammal


Juliet ditched me. When I woke up, she was gone. No message, no good-bye. She took our TV, our answering machine, our rice-cooker, our bike, my alarm-clock, my sunglasses. And she left her dumb cat. She must’ve planned it for a while.
I know why she left. I've been unemployed for two months. I hadn’t made any effort to find a job, but I was about to.
I stay in bed for three days and three nights, hoping Juliet would return. I've made her favorite tomato sandwich to keep in the fridge so that she can come home and eat any time. Every evening, I get out of the bed to change the soggy bread to fresh one. Juliet detests soggy bread. I give it to her stupid cat.
On the fourth day, I crawl out of bed and gobble down Juliet’s sandwich. The tomato tastes bitter. I take bus 30 and tell the driver I’ve left my wallet in my office. She kicks me out. I walk to the job placement center, downtown.
They give me a sales job. I team up with Terry, an expert traveling saleskangaroo from Darwin.
We travel from door to door selling notions. Terry talks to find out what ladies want, and I dig it out of his pouch. And ladies just love those average plastic combs and mediocre synthetic leather gloves coming out of Terry's lukewarm fuzzy pouch. Terry trains me and I help him with my able hands. We've become buddies. I tell him about Juliet one night at my place.
"I should’ve known she’d leave me. She’d always beat me up whenever I do anything wrong. This time she didn’t. She’d been nice for two months. She even smiled at me."
Then I tell Terry how smart, nimble, diligent and sometimes sweet Juliet was.
"She was too good for me."
"She’ll be back." Terry taps on my back. Suddenly I feel terribly lonely. I look at Terry, who grins and slaps his belly.
I pillow my head on his belly. It is warm and soft, and smells of sunny grass. It reminds me of a huge bunny my mom made me out of worn-out blanket. That one smelt like fresh piss steaming in the summer grass. This makes me weep for a second. I sniff into his pouch. Juliet’s shitty cat is napping inside. I squeeze it out before I screw my legs into his tummy. I put my arms around his neck and am about to doze off when the door bangs open and Juliet is standing there staring at us, my bottom sucked in Terry’s pouch.
"What are you doing?" She barks.
I creep out of his pouch in silence. I introduce my job partner to her, hoping Terry’s kangarooness doesn't affect her judgment.
"Male marsupials don’t have pouch, you know," Juliet says. "I just wanted to see how you are doing. You’ve got such a capable partner. Nice. Good-bye." And before I say anything, she slams the door, which smashes my toe.
Terry's huddled up in the corner, scratching the edges of the half-stripped wallpaper. The cat peed on the carpet.
"So you’re a girl."
"I’m sorry. Thought you knew it." And she hops off the door.
I cannot stop her.
So I lose my job, again.
I loaf in bed for three days and three nights, hoping Juliet or Terry would come back. They don't. I am lonely. So must be Juliet. And Terry.


*This story first appeared in Panic Americana Vol. 8.