If It Were You
by Kyra Kondis
Let’s just say that you volunteered your boyfriend, Dave, to be turned into a chameleon by an illusionist at a bar in Atlantic City. Let’s say the illusionist’s name was Dexter the Dangerous, and he had on this sparkly purple tuxedo, and you’d never seen an illusionist before, so obviously you wanted to do it. And let’s say that Dave was being stubborn about this—really, let’s just say that Dave was always kind of stubborn—the kind of person who would come over and refuse to take off his shoes at the door because he didn’t think they were dirty or drop his phone out of the car window to prove it wouldn’t break. Let’s say that this kind of attitude just made you want to see the illusionist even more.
And let’s just say that Dave only came into the bar with you in the first place because you were like, “I see someone I know in there!” and ran inside, and he was all, “Jesus, Sarah, chill.” And let’s say you were getting tired of his condescending tone. And Dexter—let’s say that Dexter the Dangerous was in this bar doing a card trick for some girls from Rutgers, and Dave was saying, “Where’s the person you know?” and you were saying, “Shut up, Dave,” because then Dexter was pulling a card out of his mouth and asking, “Is that your card?” and the Rutgers girls were squealing and jumping up and down and clapping their hands. So maybe you decided to go up to Dexter the Dangerous after that, and he was smiling at you in his shining purple suit and saying he had the best trick for you, and you couldn’t see Dave behind you but you were sure he was rolling his eyes, so you said to Dexter, “Dave will do it!”
And now, well, let’s just say that you aren’t really sure what to do with Dave now. Because maybe you panicked and left with him clinging to your arm, and you bought him a tank and some green plants and a UV light and a spray bottle of distilled water, and you can't find a way to contact Dexter the Dangerous anywhere on the Internet. And maybe you feel a little bit weird keeping him as a pet, but you’d also feel weird selling him to someone else, and you know that if you released him into the wild, he’d have, well, no chance. And let’s say that even though you can flush your toilet whenever you want to now, you miss person-Dave a little bit—maybe you miss how he used to make really good fettucine alfredo, or let you wear his favorite baseball hat with a ship in a bottle embroidered on the front, or bring you little gifts from the Trader Joe’s he managed. Maybe now you’re realizing that you might never find anyone like person-Dave again.
Let’s just say it was you. Would you set him loose somewhere, somewhere that seemed safe, and watch his small, green body skitter away until it was just a speck? Would you keep him in your living room and feed him mealworms and wonder if saying his name to him would help him remember himself? Would you try to sell him to PetSmart and hope that he doesn’t end up in a kindergarten class somewhere, because he never really liked kids much, and kindergarteners don’t know how to care for a chameleon, especially not one like Dave?
What would you do?
I like to write about relationships because it’s a means of exploring how love and power and intimacy are balanced (or not balanced) between two or more people. In this story, I thought, How do we negotiate between what is ours and what isn’t? How do we weigh qualities we love against qualities we can’t stand? How do we know if we’ve made the right choices?
Kyra Kondis is an MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University. She often writes about power negotiations and imbalances, with a little bit of pop culture mixed in. She owns three (3) small cacti. Some of her work can be found or is forthcoming in Synaesthesia Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Maudlin House, and Honey & Lime Lit. She is on Twitter @Kyra_nicole_k.