The Zipper

Caroline Bock 

You switch on cable news at lunch, a peanut butter and honey sandwich. You’re watching as much to see what the Anchor is wearing— today, a structured designer A-line white dress. A zipper down the front, a sense of professionalism hinted with sex (the zipper) and then the news—an ex-President, a future President, a war, more candidates, the election is distant for all except the Anchor, who recites, “This is playing on the campaign trail.”  You are enthralled with the dress, the camera full on her, and your noon-time wanting. You should eat what’s on your lap. Your life has been peanut butter and honey, or grape jelly or strawberry jam. Before the first bite, however, you wonder if the Anchor is going to touch the zipper, even a solitary index finger. You know you’d play with a zipper on an A-line dress. You’ve been there, not on the news, but in the backseat with a zipper sparking down your shirt, skipping school lunch, peanut butter plain that day. The boyfriend’s grip was inexact—the zipper cracked; the shirt ripped. And you laughed. He apologized, ashamed. Shame is like fear, don’t give it a headline, you could have said. Instead, you kissed him quiet. Breaking news. The world skids into rhetoric. Alone with the Anchor, you wolf down the peanut butter and honey. You are as shamelessly hungry as you have ever been.

Caroline Bock writes micros to novels. She is the author of Carry Her Home, Before My Eyes, and LIE. She is also the co-president of the Washington Writers' Publishing House, the longest, continuously operating cooperative literary press in the United States. She lives in Rockville, Maryland with her family.