Saturday 26 June 2021

'Cancellation' by Gracie Beaver-Kairis

Caroline's husband wears Aviator sunglasses that reflect the audience in their lenses. He says he’ll bomb if he doesn’t wear them.

Caroline thinks of the last time her husband bombed a set: Milwaukee, 2013. The dead of winter. A dive bar. Whenever the door swung to let a drunk in, Caroline was blasted with a whoosh of frigid air. She could see her breath when she was the only one laughing.

Caroline remembers how after that disaster of a set, her husband curled up on their motel bed with his head in her lap and sobbed.

"Maybe I'm not cut out for this," he said, his nose dripping onto her thermal leggings.

"No, no, don't say that," she said. "Of course you are." She stroked his hair and wished that she'd said that it was okay if he wasn't cut out for this. That frankly she was getting a little tired of schlepping around the Midwest. She tried to will this thought through her fingertips into his hair, where it would travel down the follicle, directly into his brain, where he would think it was his idea first.

A clickbait article,"Celebrities Who Married Normals," quoted him saying that Caroline's encouragement was what had kept him from quitting. It also said that Caroline was sweet, which meant she was boring and plain.

The articles that came out later, though, mentioned other girls. Girls with whom he exchanged tongues and flattery. Girls whose naked laps he cried on. Girls who said he made their skin crawl. Girls he gave nightmares.

Aviators on, he stands up to the mic for his comeback set, and Caroline sees herself in the blue lenses. She imagines what her reflection might look like if she walked away.

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