Marlena Ducharme

By Jim Burchill

Staring didn’t accomplish much; one dimple was still bigger than the other. The eyes still had flecks of yellow and brown that ruined the green, and the teeth were still three tints from acceptable white.

“Who looks at eyes, anyway?” she scoffed, and resumed her hand washing. The ID card balanced on the thin edge of the standing sink: a blonde, blue-eyed woman in a blue blouse smiled at her.

“Marlena Ducharme. Marlena Ducharme.” She made the name a mantra, scraping her fingernails clean with tweezers from the medicine cabinet. “Too fucking noticeable. Doesn’t anyone name their kid Julie anymore?”

She turned back to the bedroom—the bed now stripped bare, the sheets and blankets rolled into a thick spool on the floor. A quick scan of the room revealed nothing broken, nothing knocked over or out of place. It could be laundry day for the bedding. She looked back to the mirror, and the non-magic mirror still reflected her holding a bottle of peroxide. She heaved a sigh, thinking to the hours of work ahead. The mirror had not yet transformed her. Then again, it hadn’t sent forth any vengeful spirits.

She shook herself out of another daze; staring again, and the face was still the same. “Marlena Ducharme,” she whispered.

***

“No one! I mean no one wants to look each other in the eyes anymore. Windows to the soul, right?” said the fourth shot of tequila that had gone down Marlena’s throat. “I mean…fuck! We spend so much time staring at phones and computers, we’re distant from the people we sit next to because we’ve got these safe little worlds in the palms of our hands.”

The nodding woman next to her gave a sympathetic smile, keeping full eye contact. Out of her periphery she could see the empty bar, the hotel bartender flicking off the stereo and staring at them with the annoyance that only service sector employees can manage.

“Ohmygod, we’re such cunts! I’ve got this,” Marlena blurted, and threw money next to her empty glasses. She took a firm hold of her purse and prepared to hop down from the barstool, then paused on the edge of her seat. Her face drained of its enthusiasm and she leaned as much as her balance would allow. “I am sorry,” she cooed. “I am drunk. And I have already forgotten your name.”

The woman smiled.

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