Pat said I should quit the coffee and aspirin thing. I asked him which one he thought was worse. He left the room. He’s been doing that a lot lately. I know he thinks they’re both as bad as each other. That’s what he wrote on the fridge with the poetry magnets while I was in the shower. Both bad.      
            I push start on the coffee machine and set up my canvas so the sun won’t blind me in the afternoon. Pat likes it when I paint at his place. He likes to come home from his bullshit day job and see that art still rules the world.      
            Pat is an artist too. A few years ago he wrote a screenplay, raised some funds online and made the film. It screened at a few good festivals. Mostly he’s happy because he has something to talk about when he sees his family at Christmas.      
            I don’t see my family at Christmas. Last year I pretended to be going home but stayed at Pat’s while he was gone. I spent the four-day holiday wired and making black-and-white stories on his fridge.  
            I’m afraid Pat’s going to dump me because I’m always tired and always a little bit sad, even when I’m not. I wouldn’t mind so much except that I don’t want to lose his apartment. I got rid of my secret spare key after Christmas, terrified that he’d catch me with it. Sneaking in while he’s at work wouldn’t be an option.      
            His apartment is a converted warehouse. There are no real walls, only windows. The lighting is always good for art. And other things. I take my aspirin bottle from the top of the fridge and start rearranging the magnets.

Jennifer Chardon is a writer with secret dreams of also becoming a comedian and/or hairdresser. She is currently at work on a novel, Chasing Summer. The title will probably change. Jennifer has spent much of the last six years backpacking, journal writing and staying up late. She recently bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii because she refuses to live another winter in New York.