Write a story about an imaginary meeting with a hero, celebrity, or superhero. I’ve reprinted my story here called Imaginary Chinese Takeout with Lydia Davis. This appears in Alligators At Night and also, Funnybone: Flashing for Comic Relief, edited by Peter Blair and Ash Chantler. This story was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
IMAGINARY CHINESE TAKEOUT WITH LYDIA DAVIS
from ‘Alligators At Night’ by Meg Pokrass (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2018)
A strange smell is coming from Lydia Davis’s dog, our Chinese-takeout food, or me. Lydia is talking very brilliantly about her former mother-in-law and not making sense in a very lovely way. I could listen to her not making sense for hours.
I’m guessing she does not smell what I am smelling as her face seems calm. I hope she will continue talking about relatives to take my mind off the sulfurous air issue. It is probably coming from her dog. But it would be rude to assume anything, to say anything at all.
I can taste banana in my mouth though I have not had a banana in years and we are not eating bananas.
When we finish eating, it gets very quiet, and she sighs. Her dog sighs too. Then I sigh. We are an orchestra. And the smell seems gone.
I suggest we open our fortune cookies and Lydia agrees. As soon as she opens hers, and doesn’t read what it says to me, I excuse myself. I am suddenly shy about what mine might say. She would not tell me what hers said, which may be why I got shy about mine.
In Lydia Davis’s bathroom I am sitting on her toilet, unable to pee. I imagine my fingers dangling in a bowl of warm water. My muscles are tense and nothing is going to make it come out.
From the safe perch of her toilet, I memorize the names of her personal-care products, which are lined up on her bathroom shelf, watching. Lydia’s personal-care products have the same names as the ones I use, which is strange, because I am broke.
There are so many things not to say to her when I return. I hope the smell is still gone. I hope I can figure out what not to say.