Chicken

Written by Joy Yarrington 

We met on a dating app, he and I. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was an instant connection. One neither of us could explain. But we felt it.

I’ll spare you the lewd details, but I’ll set the scene. Two lonely twenty-somethings with an instant connection and a pharmacy within walking distance. Let your mind run wild.

The sex isn’t what brought us together, though. It was the undeniable dissatisfaction with our current situations; he, a no-name bartender with an Associates in English, and I, a homebody who took calls in my basement office to make money. I’d always wanted to be a performer, an actress, or a stripper, or something. He’d wanted to be a politician, or a drag queen, or a daredevil. Something attention-grabbing.

We both had fucked up childhoods; but then again, didn’t everyone? And a slew of mental problems to top it off. But we’d managed.

We both had ambitions. We both knew we wanted to make art; to be art. To cause a rift in the world; a tremor in the seismos.

So one morning, when he turned to me in bed, breath smelling like the spaghetti and red wine he’d had last night, and like the pesto chicken I had, morning breath, and proposed the ordeal to me, I took no more than a minute to wholeheartedly, excitedly, agree.

He whispered, still under the sheets, clearing his throat from his sleep-voice, about how intimate it would be.

We’ll do it right in front of everyone, he purred.

Make people stop and stare.

Disrupt their morning.

Or their evening, whatever you like.

We’ll be closer than anyone has been before.

Right in front of them.

They’ll have to cover their eyes, he creaked.

We’ll make it loud.

Stop the traffic.

Then we’ll see each other to the end.

In the middle of the street.

It might be in the paper, but who wants to hear about it.

No, they’ll think it too vile for the general public.

Only those present will tell the story, won’t they?

And oh, will they tell the story.

And so we planned it, in between our days, in between the sheets. Down to the exact intersection. The risk of it all made it all the more enticing.

We decided not to tell our families ahead of time. Or any one at all. Best to make them wait. Aftershock is better than prevention, isn’t it?

The grandest guerrilla art installation the corner of Howard and Eaton had ever seen.

The day came, the one we chose. I was at my home, and he at his. We decided to meet right in the middle; hence Howard and Eaton.

I got in my car, turned the key, locked the doors, and for the first time, doubted myself. Pushing the doubt down, I ran through my checklist in my head. Front door, locked, oven, off, mail, on the counter, wallet, in my pocket, gas, low. Oh well.

I pulled out of the drive and started off. It wasn’t long to the intersection, eight minutes maybe.

The stoplight in my sights, a glimpse of his car, the doubt came back.

As we hurtled towards each other, a funny thought came to my head. Chicken. Isn’t that what they call that game, where you run head-on until someone swerves out of the way.

Yeah, it’s chicken.

Chicken, I said aloud to myself. Suddenly everything in my life came rushing through my head: my past, my future, and all the possibilities for the latter. I could have a husband. A husband! But not if I do this.

I thought of me, and me only. I didn’t know this man. What was his name? Jacob? He’s just a guy I’ve fucked a few times, why am I doing this?

So close I could see the hunger in his eyes, I yelled to myself, CHICKEN.

And I swerved.