Here are some things that remind me of death:

  • Amicable interactions among strangers in the subway
  • Recreational group texts
  • Office supplies bought in bulk 

How long can this possibly last? I always think, stiff with worry. These strangers should have run out of things to say to each other. These friendships should have frayed by now. Someone should have said the wrong thing. These pens should have been snatched up by those goblins who roam offices for stray writing implements.

How long can this possibly last? The correct answer is always until we die. Maybe it won’t last that long, but I can’t help but imagine it doing so. This thing, this good thing, this plentiful thing, could last all the way up until someone gets hit by a bus or a train, or has a heart attack or a stroke. Until my parents discover, in the wake of my untimely death, two untouched pens in the pen cup on my desk, just standing there, facing each other with the rigidity and opacity of a relationship gone bad.

Things that seem to go on and on remind me that nothing does.


I had never thought of that long stretch of my life before the mouse climbed out of the steam pipe hole for a 30-inch jaunt into my living room as mouse-free, particularly. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to define my life in those terms. It was the appearance of the mouse that prompted me to retrofit my memory of those years with that designation. Only now do I recognize how good I had it.

It took me three days after the mouse’s appearance to settle back into my apartment, to recognize myself in the mirror, to see my home as home, my life as life. That Sunday, I felt comfortable enough to cook again in my now hermetically sealed kitchen. The super had come and stuffed all the crevices with steel wool and sticky traps, so pasta with parsnips and bacon, it was. I felt safe enough to put on some music, to do the “One Dance” cha-cha as I fried up the bacon.

I don’t want to overstate any of this. I don’t want to be extravagant in setting the scene, but let’s just say I was swinging and swaying across the kitchen floor, belting a chorus that didn’t need belting, giggling to myself, funny memories bubbling up inside, daydreaming of being amazing. I was back.

I flipped the bacon and went into the pantry for a paper towel to drain the grease. There I discovered, utterly unmistakable on the plain white roll, something much worse than a mouse: mouse droppings. Just the sort of mouse droppings everyone on Facebook had warned me about. Just the sort that signify not mouse but infinite, unknowable mice.

I strained to remember if I had used the paper towels since the mouse walked in three days earlier. If I hadn’t, the droppings could have been old, suggesting a longer standing mouse problem. But, on the plus side, it wouldn’t rule out the success of all the scrubbing and sealing. If I had used the paper towels, and I was pretty sure I had, then the mouse had been back, revealing the scrubbing and sealing—and any future scrubbing and sealing—to be futile.

I did the only sensible thing: I threw out the roll, turned off the gas, slid the frying pan and all of its contents into the fridge, ran out, and resolved not to think of it again at least until I no longer had to resolve not to think of it again.


Freshman year of college (snowman print pajama pants, Anglophone novels, buttered pasta and pie), everything lasted forever. I was with One then (board games, bus rides, boxed wine). We were to last forever. It wasn’t a desperate belief, or even a naïve or romantic one. In fact, it wasn’t a belief at all. It was too immersive to be recognizable as a belief. We didn’t speak of it, per se, but our future together was the cool undercurrent of everyday conversation.

When he dumped me eight years later (phone call, fifteen minutes, deposits forfeited, a couch in dispute), I plunged, or was plunged, into a new awareness of the precarity of things. I had never thought of that long stretch of my life with One as finite, as even a long stretch of my life. It was just life. I never thought I’d one day enumerate the Toms I loved. Now I’m always expecting things to end, maybe quietly wanting things to end. Maybe wanting to end good things with my own two hands before death does it for me.

But back to the mouse.

Sticky traps are the stuff of nightmares. If a sticky trap does its job, it half-kills the mouse. The mouse will half-die by suffocation or starvation if you leave it long enough, which inevitably you will because no one taught you how to deal with a half-dead mouse on a sticky trap. (I know. Perhaps now, while temperatures are running high, I should avoid using the second person, even in its generic form.)

A sticky trap is nothing more than a square of card stock coated with adhesive. It has a picture of bananas on it because, I have to assume, the glue is infused with some sort of banana essence meant to lure the mouse to its half-death. (I’d like to think, in much the same way I like to think of Trump supporters as horrible rather than stupid, it’s not because the manufacturers actually think the picture of bananas will lure the mouse.) Anyway, I was too uneasy about the traps to get close enough to read the print and know for sure.

For weeks, when I came home, I’d open the front door just a bit, insert my head into the wedge of space, and check the traps. They were empty every time, but they forced me to consider what I’d do if they weren’t. I couldn’t make up my mind. I could try to set it free. I’d heard that, to release its claws from the adhesive, you have to douse it in oil. Otherwise, I’d have to kill it. I’d have to wrap it in two garbage bags, layered one inside the other, counter-couchant so their openings didn’t coincide, and kill it by blunt force with a rolling pin. OK, I suppose I did make up my mind: I would be the predator. But that didn’t make the task any less horrifying.

You’d think I’d want to kill the mouse. You’d think that, by killing it, I’d be reinstating the halcyon mouse-free days of my first thirty-three years of life. If the mouse signifies the end of good things, then its death should signify the end of such endings and the maintenance of good things.

But I wasn’t living with a mouse. I was living with the idea of a mouse. It’s the idea that a mouse could be anywhere, at any moment. And, while a mouse can die, the idea of a mouse cannot. It can’t even half-die, pitiful, gasping on a sticky trap. It can’t even whole-die from the blunt force of a rolling pin.

I prefer my tormenters concrete, real. That way, I can know for sure that they’re not me, that they’re other. And that way, I can destroy them. But I live with the idea of a mouse. It’s an idea that’s forced my heart to grow big—big enough to make room for chaos and endings. I live with the idea of a mouse, so I threw the traps away.



© 2016 Caitlin Rain Rainy Day Drawings

Nestled in the armpit of my couch, pillow on my lap, laptop on the pillow, a stack of books beside me, I spotted the mouse across the room. I watched as it climbed up out of the steam pipe hole in the floor and walked—not scurried, walked—toward my bookcase. It was brownish gray and furry with beady little eyes and whiskers and a long thin tail… It was, you know, about the size of a mouse. It took a moment for the sight to set in, but eventually I screamed a classic sort of scream, and the mouse turned around—OK fine, it seemed to say—and walked back into the hole. I gathered my belongings.

Out in the hallway, I called my parents who were driving across Kansas. You’re a real New Yorker now was their take on the situation. They took turns explaining how I could go about killing it, should it reappear. My mother’s method was horrifying in a straightforward way; the horror of my dad’s was subtler yet also deeper and longer lasting. They didn’t offer much besides these methods. They wanted me to claim the New York cred that inheres in cohabitating with a mouse. Or just don’t think about it, my mom advised. With that, she found some excuse in the vast and undifferentiated Kansas landscape to end the conversation and hung up.

Halfway to the drugstore, I remembered all the calls I’ve made to my parents in moments of crisis: the approach of a hurricane, the end of an engagement, the diagnosis of cancer. All the calls I’ve made and the way my mother would mobilize me to action. I remembered how she made Zach and Ashley take me to the psych clinic at UT after One dumped me. Ashley sat with me in the waiting room, hour after hour, watching old men pace and rant and battle the nurses and themselves. When they finally called me in, the doctor diagnosed me as having just been dumped and sent me on my way. Apparently, it’s only in my family that having been dumped is considered a condition worthy of immediate medical attention.

And apparently, according to my mom’s taxonomy of crises, having a mouse doesn’t warrant such immediate action. Her laid-back response was of no use, so I made Jay meet me at my place and sit there while I tried to make my home home again. I had bought new trash cans with lids and a real vacuum. I stuffed the steam pipe hole with steel wool and peppermint oil-soaked dryer sheets. I scoured the dishes—for real this time—scratching off crusted food with my fingernails and abrading the nonstick surfaces my mom raised me to respect.

When I was ready to let Jay leave, I double-checked with him that all was right in my home. “So you think the mouse is gone, then? You think it won’t come back?”

“No, I literally never said anything like that. I’m sure it will come back,” Jay responded, nullifying the whole point of his visit. “OK, good luck, buddy.”

With Jay gone, I felt vulnerable roaming barefoot through my apartment, my toes exposed to little mouse teeth and little mouse claws. So I put on my leopard print ankle boots. I reasoned that, because they’re boots, they’d make my feet seem huge to little mouse eyes and, because they’re leopard print, they’d make my feet seem scary to a little mouse mind. Then my legs felt naked in pajama shorts, so I pulled on a pair of sweatpants. I thrust one booted foot then the other through the narrow pant legs, tripping across the living room floor on my right foot and then back the other way on my left. Suddenly, my arms felt cold, so I put on a sweatshirt. And a bathrobe too. It was just good safety sense.

Sufficiently armored, I crept toward the bedroom, panning the apartment with the flashlight on my phone. Knowing that mice, as monsters, hang out under beds, I thought it’d be best to keep my toes away. So I backed up to take a running start and dived toward the bed from the hallway, making it only halfway and clambering the rest of the way into the precarious safety of my covers.

I sat straight up, comforter draped across the front of my shoulders, my phone as my flashlight, still panning, boots still on. It wasn’t that I was afraid that the mouse would nibble on my flesh while I was asleep. I was afraid to catch him in the act, to wake up and find him perched on my forearm, enjoying a late-night snack. Seeking assurance that this scenario was improbable, I googled “do mice…” and up came “…crawl on sleeping people.” I took comfort in the popularity of the search. After all, disabusing people of their irrational fears is what the internet does best, I figured, desperate. That comfort was soon subverted as I scrolled through result after result detailing just this nightmare scenario. I clicked on each, hoping to find just one that described why it wouldn’t be in the mouse’s interest to nibble at my flesh while I slept.

Unsuccessful, I turned again to Jay. I texted him to share the results of my search. He wrote back: “You are the predator. To them, you are a giant who takes huge, thundering steps with a booming voice, and they are a four-inch-long critter that can barely be heard even at the quietest of times.”

I read and reread Jay’s text, breathing in its logic, but also scanning the room, holding still, creating the quietest of times, listening for a squeak. That was when an idea slipped in: maybe I would never see the mouse again. Maybe all of this—the boots, the flashlight, the covers, the google search, the journaling, the call to my parents, the late-night vigilance—maybe it’s all insanity. Maybe this hell is one of my own design, made in my own image, brought about and bounded only by my own imagination. This idea slipped in quietly, the way a mouse slips into an apartment one day when you’re not paying attention. And then, also like a mouse, it slipped right out.

I sat there. Sitting there is what I do in moments of crisis. I sat there in bed that night, waiting for the mouse to reappear, just like I sat there in the waiting room of the psych clinic with Ashley. In the clinic, I sat among things that didn’t move: chairs, magazines, plants. I was one of those things, just as I was that night in my bedroom, sitting among stacks of books and racks of clothes, the clock, the lamp, the metal cow figurine I stole from my parents.

Years earlier, I sat there in front of the TV at Zach and Ashley’s, watching a hurricane approach the city I loved and abandoned. Years later, I sat there in the radiology center, among old women who held their eyes on me, eyes full of pity and calm. All those times I sat there, feeling like I was both falling and stuck at the same time, a kind of emotional motion sickness, as if my inner ear had evolved to tell me I was moving while my eyes told me I was still.

I sat there thinking of Jay. Jay, who I used to think of as my ex-boyfriend, whose face, whose name in my inbox were once shorthand for my inability to control anything, is now my friend Jay. And he’s texting me to say how threatening I am to a mouse, how powerful, how impervious I am to its mischief.

I couldn’t get myself to turn the lights out that night. But I drew the covers up over my head and breathed. I held still and tried to fall asleep, whispering to myself, “I am the predator. I am the predator. I am the predator.”



© 2016 Caitlin Rain Rainy Day Drawings

I arrived at the hotel just after 10 pm. The lobby was brimming with 20-somethings in branded t-shirts tucked into pencil skirts, probably. They wore nametags slipped into nametag holders attached to lanyards, probably. They were probably putting away, by that point, their second glass of pinot grigio. Four-thousand of my closest work friends, these people were.

At the entrance, I rooted around in my bag for sunglasses or a hat or a stick-on mustache. Sunglasses would do. I ducked down, pushed through the revolving door with my forearm and swept through the lobby and up to the front desk in one continuous motion.

I didn’t claim victory until later, when I reached room 418 having said hello to no one.

The next day, I met four friends for lunch in the banquet hall. The tables were draped in white polyester and erected at their centers were cards designating which teachers were meant to sit where. There were tables for English teachers, for math teachers, for elementary teachers, and so on. There was no such designation for us, a bunch of over-the-hill-at-32 hangers-on who show up at these things for nominal speaking fees and free food and drink.

We found a table on the periphery intended for school psychologists. Cole plucked the card from its stand, turned it inside out, scribbled “VIP,” and replaced it. It was a brilliant, economical move, we all thought. Those three letters announced our rightful status and, more importantly, guaranteed our safety from the hordes of strangers and, worse, professional acquaintances who might otherwise want to join us. We’re the kind of introverts who don’t mind addressing an audience of 500 but do very much mind making small talk with strangers while sawing into herb-crusted chicken breasts and getting smacked in the face by the hunks of ice lodged in the goblets of tap water they serve.

Our self-designated VIP status reflected some salient features of my personality, I thought: misanthropy, self-importance, and introversion. Looking at this list of salient features now, I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t a bit redundant.


I’ve always felt that claims about personality—whether in the form of internet quiz results, drunken late-night ramblings, or the manager of TGI Fridays telling me I’m not cut out for the food service industry—were just a notch realer than horoscopes. Recently, Jay told me that even psychology research suggests that contextual factors dwarf the influence of any stable set of traits we might call personality. Still, I do nothing if not trot around the city proclaiming my introversion, sidling up to people having a terrible time at parties and finding a way to ask if they, like me, self-identify as introverts. What could be so appealing about the introvert designation that I’m willing to embrace these essentialist ways of thinking just to claim it as my own?

I’ve attributed to introversion everything from my tolerance for repetition (songs, TV shows) to my sense of grandiosity to my bad grades (high school) to my good grades (college) to my love of sitting down to my lack of Saturday night plans to my meticulous planning to my hunch that I’d be good at the drums to my tendency to hold forth to my tendency to say nothing to my lack of any sense of direction to my powers of observation to my absentmindedness. There are plenty of think pieces and TED talks (and more than a few internet quizzes) that explain how introverts are not necessarily shy and don’t necessarily have social anxiety, so I won’t bother laying out the evidence here. I’ll just say that we introverts are oriented inward.

If we can’t find the exit in the Bed Bath & Beyond, for example, it’s not that we’d prefer moving in to the Bed Bath & Beyond to asking someone for help. It’s just that we’d consider moving in to the Bed Bath & Beyond before it would occur to us to ask for help. It’s also that we very well might envision the life we would make for ourselves in the Bed Bath & Beyond, imagining how we’d make a pillow fort to live in, complete with an air mattress, a lamp, a mini-fridge, and a George Forman grill—and an alarm clock so we could wake up in time each morning to disassemble it. (OK, I’m almost done: We might also imagine how, like Natalie Portman in that one movie, we’d keep a log of what we owe Bed Bath & Beyond and find a way to compensate them for whatever we used.)


In contrast, most of my exes—notably, Jay and Two—are oriented outward. They’re classic extroverts. They make as many friends and enemies walking from the 1 train home as I’ve made in my entire life. On the plus side, these totally inexplicable investments in people they don’t know usually lasted long enough for me to quietly steal their wallet.

These extroverts can’t stomach doing just one thing. They always want more and more. If you watch a movie with Jay, he’ll pause it in the middle of a scene to show you a related YouTube video and then pause the YouTube video to tell you a related story.

Meanwhile, Two couldn’t simply eat at a restaurant. He needed a garrulous Sardinian bartender and a wall full of liquor to quiz him about. That’s why he insisted on eating at the bar. I always assumed that he needed more and more to distract himself from the sinking feeling that everything is nothing and that, no matter how many handmade shoes one buys or how many pisco sours one drinks, we’ll all wind up dead one day anyway.

I don’t know. Do I call myself an introvert because it gives me license to act weird and quiet when I feel like it, because apparently it gives me license to be whatever I claim to be?

It could be that. Or it could be what we five learned that day in the hotel banquet hall: that absent any other suitable category, we are the people who invent one of our own. Then again, maybe that’s just the misanthropy and self-importance—the introversion—talking.

Then again…


Breakup Advice

A very wise person on the internet once said, “A relationship is an expensive way to watch someone like you less and less.” It follows, then, that a breakup is a cheap way of liking yourself more and more.

As a person who has been left by many men, I have developed some expertise in the art of overcoming a breakup and, in doing so, liking yourself more and more. I share it with you in flow chart form. Happy breaking up!

Relationship Advice

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.46.32 PM

October 2015

I’ve always thought that Two and I were at our best in extreme weather.

The Heat

When it was hot out, Two would leave first thing for a three-hour run. While he was gone, I’d sit in front of the AC unit and text him links to websites that explained how he’d probably die running in such extreme heat.

I’d inspect my mosquito bites from the night before. Without him there to scold me, I’d scratch them until they bled. When he’d return, I’d act normal, tucking my legs up under me so he wouldn’t see the welts. He’d give me a cool, salty kiss and head for the shower. I’d resume scratching.

Later, we’d set out for the beach. He’d grab his bike and find me some janky old one with the seat set way too high. My eyes, blinking from the sting of sweat and sunscreen, were useless. I’d have to pedal along toward the sound of his voice, which I could occasionally make out over the clanging of the bike chain.

He loved lying about how far we had to go. “Just another three miles,” he’d call back to me. And I’d groan and drop all my weight onto the pedal, swerving probably into the beach traffic, but who knows. By the time I righted myself, he’d already be standing there near a patch of reeds, dismounted, laughing at me.

One time in Argentina, it was too hot to do anything other than pose for photos in my silk sundress. In one, I scowled at a catcaller. In another, I stood in front of a statue of Pope Francis, his hand outstretched. Two arranged the photo so it would look like the pope was touching my boob. That one was his favorite.

That afternoon, we stopped for a drink at a sidewalk cafe. I left him with my stuff for a few minutes to go see about a restroom. When I returned–quietly and from behind–I caught him scrolling through the dozens of selfies he had apparently taken on my phone in the few minutes I was away. He was just testing the camera, was his defense,

I won that round of our ongoing game of “Who’s less vain?” But when we got up to leave, my victory was subverted when Two observed that I had sweat through the back of my dress. It’s hard to feel like a winner with a visibly sweaty ass.

The Cold

Two knows how to dress for the cold. The man loves his knitwear. In the winter, we’d squeeze into the entranceway of his apartment to suit up. He’d try out several hat-scarf combinations before settling on the same one every time. “This hat’s kind of interesting, no? No?” We’d prop ourselves up on each other as we pulled our boots on. He’d warn me that I needed a hat, scarf, gloves, a heavier coat. He’d offer me one of his, a formless olive green thing, and I’d reject it on the obvious grounds of not wanting to look formless and olive green. Apparently, his insistence on fashionable dress didn’t extend to me.

Outside, predictably, my ears would redden in the cold, and, at each corner, as we waited for the light to turn, he’d cup his hands over them to keep them warm. If he got bored, he’d kiss me.

Once, a blizzard grounded us for three days. The city shut down public transit, so I couldn’t get home. Before the worst of it, he took me to Citarella to stock up on blizzard provisions. Typical stuff: Marcona almonds, burrata, anchovies. He dragged me from cobbler to cobbler to find the right mink oil to protect my new Christmas boots from the coming storm. The man knows how to protect his leather goods. I dragged him from shop to shop to find some fresh underwear for the next day.

That night, we wound up at a shitty bar with his friends. It was just dark enough and everyone was just drunk enough for me to get away with slumping down in the booth, resting my head on Two’s shoulder, and just watching the night happen.

We didn’t know how long the snow had been falling when we reemerged into the night. Charles Street was empty. All distinctions were neutralized by the snow. The four or five of us rollicked through the void until Two slipped on a stretch of ice and pulled me down with him. Rolling around on the icy sidewalk, I wanted to laugh the way drunk people do when they fall, but my urge to laugh was offset by my need to pee, the way drunk people do at the end of the night. So I stiffened my body to avoid disaster, which is all one can do in such a situation. But just as one should never stiffen one’s body in the unlikely event of a bear attack–lest one make oneself easier to maul–one should never stiffen one’s body when Two is groping in the dark for something solid to lean on as he tries to stand on ice.

There we were, in the cold, caught in a web of our own contradictory urges. Meanwhile, down the street at his apartment, the almonds and the anchovies, the mink oil and the new underwear sat in silence in a pile of bags on his kitchen counter.

The Advice

I’m supposed to use this post for relationship advice, so here it is:

There will be a moment in every relationship when you’ll learn if the person sitting across the table from you can bear being human, or if they are so repulsed by their own vulnerability that they can be nothing but repulsed by yours.

Don’t worry about that moment until it comes. Don’t wait for it. You’ll go mad. No. Just bundle up and buy some anchovies and mink oil. Sit in front of the AC and scratch your bites until they bleed. Put your head on his shoulder. Pose for the photo. Pedal along.

But when that moment does come, as inevitably it will, and you can see that the person sitting across the table from you hates darkness, complexity, himself, and you: leave.

Either that or move to an extreme climate where you’ll be too uncomfortable to notice the difference.

How to Make Ravioli

Last week, I was asked to teach some of the loveliest people I know how to make pasta. There was some confusion over the meaning of “making pasta,” and, long story short, I wound up showing them how to fry up eggplant, smash tomatoes, tear mozzarella, and stir it all into preexisting pasta.

So, this morning, my mom and I made some ravioli, and I made a little pictorial tutorial out of it. Here’s how we did it:



Me and Two


April 2015

For our fourth date, I met Two in Port-au-Prince. I decided for sure that he wasn’t a murderer when I spotted him through the glass partition at baggage claim, waving at me, smiling stupidly, and generally looking like a bucket of puppies.

When people ask about our fourth date in Haiti, I tell them about our one-armed bodyguard and the pistol he tossed on the front seat of the SUV like it was a pack of Fruit Roll-Ups. I tell them about the drive across the Haitian countryside and about the weirdly strong cell signal we had out there. I tell them about how we huddled around my phone in the backseat and streamed a clip of Rhiannon talking to CNN about the video of her pit bull that had recently gone viral. I tell them about the stop we made halfway through, about the way the guard took me by the elbow and led me into the market.

These are the stories I tell, but in the privacy of my memory, it was just me and Two, drinking beer on the beach, swapping stories about horrible people we’ve known.


A month later, I would be sitting on the edge of Two’s bed sobbing into my hands. It wasn’t really about the joke he’d made at my expense. It was about the why are you escalating?’s and the you’re overreacting’s and the come on, man’s that had been parading out of his mouth for an hour. 

In that moment, I could see the whole relationship unfold before me: his passive-aggressive jokes; my retreat into daydreams; his retreat into his phone; the fights that were not really about the chicken or the avocado or the book that, yes, was thrown but not thrown at him; my waiting, my waiting; all the chances we’d give each other; all of the poetry and platitudes I’d summon to rationalize those chances; the way I’d tear at the edges of my cocktail napkin when I told my friends we wouldn’t be breaking up after all; the way they’d take a slow sip before responding, “As long as you’re happy.”

I wasn’t crying about the joke. I was crying because, in that moment and in every moment of conflict since, I was experiencing the whole long, painful end of me and Two. (I guess I’m the Mozart of lots of things.)

The next morning, blinking into the flat light of early winter, we resolved to think of the whole episode as, let’s say, aberrational. As things tend to, the relationship kept going, and, as people tend to, he kept being the same.

But something else happened. As we traveled through Argentina and then later to Oaxaca, threw dinner parties together, attended his cousin’s bat mitzvah, Two became funnier and more specific. He looked handsomer every day with that down-turned mouth of his, that upturned posture. Our banter became more precise and brisker.

And, all of a sudden, we could claim for ourselves shared memories from our halcyon early days. When he didn’t laugh at the excellent joke I made about his sneeze (“That was a classic of the genre!”). When we realized that two of the horrible people we had told stories about were actually the same person. When I waited on a bench outside the American Embassy while he went looking for the laptop he’d left on a bus, and I, only somewhat irrationally concerned for his safety, steeled myself to intervene and rescue him. We’d reminisce, correct each other’s versions of the stories, and proclaim, with only the most tenuous logic, that what the other said or did was just so hilariously typical.

And all of this–all of this business that, I suppose, is about falling in love and remaining in love–only made the fact that he wouldn’t change, and that I wouldn’t, that much more painful.


In our photos from Haiti, the blue is the bluest blue, and the green is the greenest green. The sky, land, sand, and sea are brimming with their proper colors. In those photos, the world looks so straightforward. I’m jealous of the person I was, the person who got to sit in that world for a while, the person who thought the worst thing about Two was that he didn’t know how to pronounce Beyonce.

Now we are the horrible people we tell stories about. And this world looks like the one I see in a portrait of him I once found tucked away in a bin with old mail and receipts. His ex had painted it. This world looks like thick, complicated strokes of muted color. It looks like Two, walking away.