When I woke up, I could smell fire and for a second there, I thought we were all going to die. My heart beat loudly in my chest and I was worried it would wake Coco, my girlfriend,who is also a Panda. She is from China. I never checked the fire, but I guess it was nothing because we didn't die.
It made me think about this sad woman I can hear singing at my work sometimes. The sound never seemed to come from any certain direction, but when I was out sweeping at night I could hear her, crying some awful country song. I wanted to think of her as some sad poetic gesture to the world. But she was just a drunk. A really sad drunk. Maybe if she dated a Panda, like me, she would be happier.
I haven't been sad once since I started dating Coco. Except once, when she mauled me for not doing the dishes and leaving the seat up in the same night. She cut a big line above my eye and she joked and called me Harry Potter all week. I laughed at first. I had it coming, I guess.
Sometimes, when she's asleep, just this big hillock of black and white fur, I wrap my arms around her, as best i can, and pretend we are both Pandas, sleeping in a tuft of grass, while clouds circle around and steep the Asian mountains like smoke. But then I wake up and fix Coco her breakfast. I looked at myself in the mirror one morning. It looked like I was going to cry.
One afternoon, the drunk lady, she asked me, "Do you think my hair is more red or brown." She kept tugging at it, like it was helping. I said more red. Her friend next to her laughed and waved her hand and went inside. The drunk woman looked me in the eyes and then at my name tag. Her skin was clustered into tight wrinkles and I felt really sad for her. She was short and her hair clumped and shot out, like short semi-curly worms jutting out in all directions, escaping her head. She was thin too, really thin. She wanted to trade in 20 cents worth of bottles so she could buy a 40. She always looked like she just got done crying. It was 11:30 in the afternoon.