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When I Say Yes I Will Yes

which I don’t, but imagine for a moment that I marry my English turnkey. I pour beer at King’s Arms. I push buttons when drunks throw glass at the karaoke machine. I duck. I walk home at midnight along Uxbridge Road. I take the Tube to High Street Kensington at six to scrub rich people’s toilets (this time I’m documented, though, because of the Yes). Their daughters, feet dangling off the basement chair, shove their fingers at me while I iron their underwear. They say: “You missed a spot.” On my way back to Acton, my pruned hands touch the watermelon belly. I press its taut membrane a little too hard and miss my stop.

But it isn’t exactly like that, is it? My unsaid Yes kicks open the door to our new digs in Ealing or Hammersmith, and he lets me decorate our small living room with second-hand batiks and art we buy together from street vendors on our walks to the favorite Kebab joint. See him, stirring curry and singing opera in our sun-drenched kitchen? And there he is, on the rocky beach near Lewes, a fishing rod in one hand, shiny binoculars in the other, asking “Are you hungry?” He brings me his seaside favorite: a white bun soggy with mayo, vinegar French fries wedged in between, and I pretend to like it because he pretends to like Polish jazz and pyzy dripping with bacon fat. In the cold tent, we squeeze our three bodies into one sleeping bag and laugh at my watermelon belly.

Agata Izabela Brewer is a Polish-American writer and the winner of 2019 Black Warrior Review Creative Nonfiction Prize. She lives in Indiana, where she teaches literature and writing at an all-male college.