Gary On

The scratchy fibers of the standard-issue carpeting in Gary’s office irritate my skin, even though there’s a clothing barrier between the floor and my back. The weight of his body pressing down on me squishes me closer to the fibers, and I wonder about all the chemicals used to treat the carpeting.
He’s in his mid-40s, and I’m 19. I’ve come to his office, between classes, for counseling. I want to tell him to get off me and that I hate his mustache, but I don’t want him to hate me or think I’m the kid I still am.

*  *  *
I know where he lives. He’s stupid enough to have told me.
I drive past his house and imagine slowing down and parking at the curb. Or going up to his front door, ringing the bell, and saying good morning to his wife.
“I suppose Gary is at work,” I will say.
She will be wearing a track-suit that is actually flattering. She will be perky and trim. She will invite me in for coffee.
In her kitchen, I will break the news that her husband’s office carpet itches my back.
(Melissa Gilbert will play me in the Lifetime movie.)