“Do you have any carrots?” she asks.
I frown, out of breath.
My mind comes back from wherever it was. I let it out of bed and it goes riffling through the refrigerator.
She gets up without bothering to put her clothes back on. I watch her go, light a cigarette. I start to wonder–start to worry what she plans to do with the carrot.
She is back in three drags–in bed in two.
“You wanted a carrot?”
“Sh–” she tells me. Not shhh, but sh.
She breaks it in half, holds one end to her nose. She closes her eyes. The sun is at her back; she looks as though we are making love all over again.
I smoke my cigarette.
I don’t dare speak in fear of a sh. So, I wait. The cigarette is ash by the time she opens her eyes. She puts the carrot down.
“What?” is all I can ask. She takes a bite of the carrot, hands me the other half. I crack off a bit.
“Mayans,” she says, pulling her blanket up and around her. I pull it away, off of her. She frowns.
“It’s cold,” she says. I sigh, letting go of the blanket.
She leaves it where it is.
“So,” I say, “Mayans?”
“They liked carrots?”
She shakes her head. “No, the Mayans always had these belts with different bags. In each bag there was a smell. Each smell was a memory. You know how memory is linked to smell, yes?”
“I suppose, yeah.”
“Well,” she shrugs, “whenever there is a really great moment in my life, I smell a carrot. I never buy or eat carrots except when I am in the best moments, the moments that need to be underlined.”
I try to keep my face placid–it doesn’t sell.
“You’re making fun of me,” she says.
I hold up my hands–like a crook. “I’m not, I’m really not,” I promise. “I just–well, it’s just odd. I like odd. But, why carrots?”
She looks past me, past the bedroom, past even the refrigerator; she talks to whatever she finds there.
“The first moment I remember being aware that I’m alive, I was in the grocery store with my mother. My very first memory, you know–and it was a good one. I remember it the way some people talk about finding God–don’t laugh–I mean, not finding God, but like that. That look people get where they know something ineffable happened to them once and don’t quite know what to do about it.” Her voice slows and stops, as a song might.
She takes her time coming back to me. I wait, hoping she brings with her something for me to say.
I light another cigarette.
“Oh,” she says, when she gets back. “We were in the vegetable aisle.”