by Gabriel Thibodeau
It started at the park, where we walked along horseshoes of sidewalk and sat for a moment on a little grass hill, and it continued at Olive Garden, where the food isn’t really good or bad or Italian or American, but they have those breadsticks. He really loves the breadsticks. I know this because of the way he took a bite and said, “I really love the breadsticks.”
We went back to my apartment and sprawled across my bed, side by side at first, sort of overlapped, then in little balls, then crossed over each other: X marks the spot. We looked at the ceiling and each other’s faces and the bedspread, and we talked about things, like Sophie’s wedding. I told him no, I’m sorry, you can’t come. It’s going to be really small. I don’t have a plus-one. And that’s when he turned into a lizard and crawled to the corner of the room.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yep,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m fine.” He flicked his lizard tongue. “Why do you ask?”
I sat up on the bedspread. “Because you just turned into a lizard,” I said.
He looked at the beige color of my chair and his scales turned beige. “I’m fine,” he said again, and then he turned to peer out the window. His head scales looked all windowy.
“Shouldn’t we talk about this?” I asked.
“About what’s happening right now.”
A fly buzzed against the screen. I didn’t know what I would do if he ate the fly.
“What’s happening?” said the lizard. “Nothing’s happening.”
He’d asked for extra breadsticks when we’d already finished eating. The waitress slow-walked them to our table with an energy that told me she wished breadsticks had never been invented. He wrapped them in a napkin and ate them in the car on the ride over. There were Parmesan crumbs on my passenger’s seat. Now that he was a lizard, I considered going to the garage to vacuum the crumbs. It’s hard to know what to do when there’s a lizard in the room.
“This is bothering me,” I finally said.
“This. I’m bothered by this.”
He just looked out the window some more, said he had to get going, and crawled away, his scales picking up the blue color of the carpet on his way out. After he left, I stared at the carpet for a while, wondering if he was really still there, just camouflaged, my apartment’s secret plus-one.
He called twenty minutes later from his own bedspread, where he always slept alone and diagonally.
“I’m sorry I turned into a lizard,” he said.
“The breadsticks aren’t even that good,” I said.
“They’re salty and warm.”
“All breadsticks are salty and warm.”
I imagined him at Sophie’s wedding, a little lizard in a tux. I wondered what color his scales would be. Maybe pink and yellow. Pink and yellow to match the flowers.