Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
I’ve had this problem for as long as I can remember. In preschool, I remember being confused when they told us there were seven days in a week, because I could only ever count six.
I’ve never told anyone this, not even my wife, so I’ve never really been able to ask, but I can gather from careful questions that the me they see on Thursdays acts the exact same way and says the same general things I would. If plans are made for Thursdays I show up and do exactly what I would do. I just don’t ever remember it.
Before you ask, yes, I’ve tried staying up all Wednesday night, or waking up in the middle of the night. It never works. I wake up in my bed on Friday.
I feel sorry for the Thursday me. He’s never going to have a weekend. I worked it out and he only has Christmas once every seven years or so. It’s not fair that I get to have so much more life than him.
One thing I do know is he doesn’t like to keep a diary. If anyone ever goes through my journal I wonder if they’ll notice I’ve never made an entry for Thursday in all these years. I wish the Thursday me would write sometimes. If he did I’d be able to figure out once and for all whether he’s really a separate person, or if he’s just an unconscious me, or anything.
Last week I decided I would give him a break. I took Thursday off. I went to bed on Wednesday and I hoped Thursday me would make the most of it.
Friday I woke up and got ready for work. There was a very strange smell in the kitchen. It was an oily, burnt smell. It made me feel like something was sticking to my skin. I sprayed some air freshener and took out the garbage without investigating it. Before I left my wife came out of the bedroom in her pajamas and hugged me, deeply.
“Hey, what’s this about?” I said. “You don’t normally wake up this early to say goodbye to me.”
“I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful dinner you made last night,” she said. “What did you say that dish was called? It was incredible.”
“Um… I, um, don’t remember, honestly. I just flipped open my mom’s cookbook to a random page. I’ll have to look it up again this afternoon.”
She kissed me. Her breath smelled like the kitchen. “Well, whatever it was, figure it out and make it again soon. I love you so much.”
“Love you, too,” I said.
At work, everyone was happy to see me. Richie, the guy who works next door to my cubicle, slapped me on the back. “That was an amazing party last night, buddy.”
My supervisor Helen dropped by my desk. “If you’re going to throw a get-together like that every time, then you can take off as many days as you’d like. I can’t believe how much I ate!” There was a big greasy stain on her blouse. It looked like she’d been wearing a messy bib.
As the day went on more and more people thanked me and shook my hand and asked me where I’d learned to cook like that. There were people I never even talked to, like the janitors and the security guys. Toward the end of the day, a woman I had never seen before spoke to me. I could see from her ID badge that she was a secretary from our other facility across town. She said, “I’ve always thought I was an adventurous eater but after last night, wow! I’d never eaten anything like that before. What did you say that dish was called?”
She had a black glob stuck between her teeth. I said, “I can’t believe I don’t remember. It was in my cookbook. I’ll have to look it up and get back to you.”
By the end of the day, I hadn’t gotten a bit of work done. So many people—strangers—had talked to me I was completely overwhelmed. As I drove home I almost expected a cop to pull me over and asked me what I had cooked last night. I had to figure out what it was.
When I got home I went into the alley behind my house and opened up the garbage can. The smell was so powerful I started gagging. It was like nothing I’d ever smelled before, greasy, burnt, and metallic. It made me sick, but at the same time, it was appealing, almost addicting. As I sorted through the trash it seemed like I was breathing deeper, trying to get more.
All the scraps were covered in black globs like the secretary had had between her teeth. The globs stuck to me as I wiped them off the long curved bones and fleshy sacks I pulled out of the garbage bag. One of the things I pulled out looked like a tiny human hand, an inch across with two thumbs on one side. It was held together with fibrous connective tissue. I touched one frayed tendon dangling from its wrist and it clenched into a tight fist I couldn’t open again.
I picked something up which was unmistakably a skull, two inches across, with shards of gray, fatty meat still clinging to its face. But its single eye socket was completely clean, like someone had sucked it dry with a long tongue. Its jaw was too narrow and locked open like it was screaming. I found a tentacle filled with bubbles of black liquid that, if I touched them, would burst and evaporate instantly. I found a strip of skin, bright red with grill marks on one side and covered in gray hairs that were stretchy like rubber and needle-sharp at the tip.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I vomited. I left the pile of refuse and the overturned garbage can in the alley and ran upstairs through the back door. I washed my hands in the bathroom because the smell was still in the kitchen. I came into the living room and my wife smiled at me. I could smell it on her. “I’m starving, honey,” she said. “I haven’t eaten all day. I’m waiting to see what you make for us tonight.”
I could only laugh unconvincingly in response. I went into the bedroom. My journal was open on the nightstand. Open to Thursday’s entry:
Thank you so much for this opportunity, old friend. I’ll take more days next week.
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