Your boyfriend decides to start a small business and sure enough the store he opens only comes up to your knee. Somehow he fits inside but as much as you scrunch you can’t get in. Outside, on your hands and knees, you peek with one eye through the small windows.
When you ask him who his intended customers are, he says, “just really small people, I guess.”
Through the window you can see your boyfriend industriously filling wicker baskets with scented soaps, making neat rows of colorful bubble bath bottles.
His shop is a disproportionately large success. Small people line up around the block for his honeysuckle-scented body lotion. He is interviewed by the local news. On television, he and his shop and the newscaster look like they are the correct size.
“This won’t change anything about our relationship,” your boyfriend says.
You begin to fit uncomfortably into your own life. You ask coworkers, “do I seem especially gigantic to you today?” and while they assure you that you are normal-sized, they submit hostile work environment claims to the director of human resources.
After an argument you tell your boyfriend that you hate your job and think you are about to get fired. “I can support us both,” he says.
“That isn’t the point,” you say.
Every day, as you walk by your boyfriend’s shop, you imagine crushing the mob of tiny people waiting their turn to fill their tiny baskets with tiny fancy bath products with your boot, the little dark smears on the sidewalk, the way they would make the bottom of your boot sticky. You imagine picking them up and biting their tiny heads off, drinking from their bleeding necks.
You are big enough, and thirsty.
Your boyfriend invites you to move in with him, but he lives inside a mechanical bull and you dread spending the night there. “That would be a less than ideal living arrangement,” you explain.
“I hardly even notice the cowboys anymore,” he says.
But really the cowboys are a nuisance. You turn on the kitchen light at night and cowboys skitter across the floor in their Wrangler jeans, their spurs clinking. When you try to fall asleep, you hear the cowboys crawling around in the dust under the bed, singing prairie songs around a campfire.
“I’ll call the landlord,” your boyfriend says, but his landlord is busy running the country-western bar and he tells your boyfriend that there is a reason the rent on his mechanical bull is so low.
“I don’t deal with cowboy infestations or motion sickness,” the landlord says.
Your boyfriend asks if you will dress as a cowboy during sex, says it might help you get more comfortable in the apartment. You try to ease into it by wearing a bandana and a pair of boots but then you remember that time you left the butter out and came back to tiny boot prints in it, and you can’t keep an erection.
“What if you moved?” you ask your boyfriend. But really you know he doesn’t mind the cowboys. He tries to tell you how cute they are if you look at them right, and how they help keep other pests out, but to you they all look like they’ve rolled around in the gunk underneath the refrigerator.
“I’m just saying, there must be apartments that don’t have a cowboy problem,” you say.
“This is a very difficult real estate market,” your boyfriend says. And it is, it really is.
Zachary Doss is the editor of Black Warrior Review and fiction editor of Banango Street. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fairy Tale Review, Caketrain, SmokeLong Quarterly, and others. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Photo by davvid