You make yourself a family out of sugar. You bounce from store to store, collecting bags of it. Store clerks tire of you asking for the good stuff. They direct you to the baking aisle.
Sugar, they say. It’s all the same.
Sugar leaks into the trunk of your car. It could have become eyelashes, or toenails. You pluck at it and suck it off your fingertips.
You love sugar. You love your new family. They come together nicely. You’re a genius sculptor of sugar. You pose for selfies with your new family. They’re always smiling. They couldn’t be happier.
You kiss the mother one on her granulated lips. It’s the sweetest kiss you’ve ever had. Sugar comes off in your mouth. When you embrace her, she crumbles. You grip her tighter and tighter. You call her sugar. You say it so often it stops sounding like the thing that it is.
Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.
For a variation, you call her sweetie. Just until sugar sounds natural again.
Your sugar children watch you kiss their mother. Your sugar children don’t blink. They like the shows you play on the television. The Wire is their favorite.
We like Omar the best, they say.
Actually, it’s only you talking to yourself, pitching your voice higher so you’ll sound like a child. You already know that. It’s not like you’re crazy, like your neighbor across the hall says.
You crazy bastard, he shouts at your closed door. We’re getting ants.
You open your door a crack. You think you’ve got problems with ants? You should see what they’ve done to my family.
Later, the landlord comes knocking at the door.
The neighbors are complaining, he says.
Aren’t they always, you agree, and shut the door in his face.
He slips a note under your door that’s been signed by the other tenants: Get rid of the sugar.
You slip your own note under the door. Fine, it says.
All your neighbors come by that evening. They remark upon how clean your apartment is. They take the tea you offer them, and sip slowly.
It’s sweet, they say. It’s so sweet.
Cathy Ulrich likes sugar, but not enough to make a family out of it. Her writing can be found in a variety of publications, including Monkeybicycle, The Atticus Review and Melusine Magazine.
Kelsey Dean is an artist from Michigan, but she currently lives in Istanbul. Her work has appeared in several literary journals, including Arsenic Lobster, Rose Red Review, Glint Literary Journal, and Falling Star Magazine. http://kelseypaints.tumblr.com.