April 21, 2023 | By Decca Harper
“Aihaaaaan! Look who I brought home!”
Aihan slouched on his green couch, the centerpiece of his new apartment, munching mindlessly on mint ice cream dyed muted green like the walls. Flowers lined the windowsills. They were trimmed with the petals shorn so that only green remained. Even the windowpanes were tinted green, sickening the sunlight. Ahh, how splendidly green it was.
“Hm?” Aihan murmured. He sat up slightly, sweating.
And Aihan had thought he was free of surprises in this haven for rent.
He recalled when Dalla unexpectedly invited a carpenter over for dinner. Sitting there with a doomed smile on his doomed face, Aihan hoped it would be the last surprise.
He lacked the nerve to deviate from Dalla; ideas became edicts, and whims became decrees. Aihan thought if he just nodded his way through the dread – “oh, yes, Dalla!” – one day, he could reveal his true self, and she would fall in love with him again, more hastily.
“I brought you a dooooog!”
Dalla stumbled into the room beaming. She carried a little white poodle.
“Ah! That’s…” Aihan sputtered.
“Meet Little Aihan! He’s adorable, isn’t he? Doesn’t he look just like you?”
“Dalla! How adorable! He looks just like me,” said Aihan.
He stood up, looking more like he was sitting down.
“Aren’t his eyes so sweet?” said Dalla.
“His eyes are so sweet, aren’t they.”
Dalla glanced around. “Aihan, how can you see in here? It’s like being wrapped in seaweed. We really should replace the windowpanes.”
“How can I see?” said Aihan. He didn’t tell Dalla he had the windowpanes custom-made.
Dalla frowned. “Here, hold him for a moment.”
She thrust Little Aihan into Aihan’s arms and set about flipping switches, drowning the green in white light.
While Dalla zigzagged all over the apartment, Aihan and the dog looked at one another, bewildered. When Dalla passed by the Aihans, her intent expression melted into an ephemeral smile as she pet the dog and whispered some endearing words. Aihan mirrored her smile, but when Dalla started walking again, all smiles vanished, and the two Aihans resumed their expressionless eye contact.
Aihan thought he caught a momentary glimpse of pure hostility, even hatred, in the dog’s eyes, but just then, Dalla whisked the dog back out of his arms.
“You’ve seemed so down lately,” she said. “I thought you would benefit from having a little companion!”
“I’ll benefit from having a little companion!” said Aihan.
There was nothing Aihan wanted less. His time alone in the green was his only respite. Having only one mask to maintain was laborious already.
“Mmmhmm,” said Dalla.
It was all very exhausting…