Rubes: People who disgusted you.
Gorge: What rose when people disgusted you.
Y-M-C-Ack: The place where the rubes prattled on—especially in the women’s locker room—and made your gorge rise. You were a magnet for spit-talkers. The sight of blood running down a leg.
The Y-IRE: The monthly newsletter published by our YMCA—you taught me to be enraged by the name of it.
Philistines: People who didn’t agree “The Y-IRE” should be renamed “The Y Wire” or “The Yer.” Also, what you called our friends who hadn’t read Ray Bradbury.
Christ figure: A central character in most art—especially prestige TV—which you said employed a significant Judeo-Christian undergirding. In your mind, there would always be a Christ figure and a devil. You referred to a work colleague as Beelzebub. But you also started me on the Hainish Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin, who studied Taoism.
Flinky: A snack cracker, pretzel, or chip. You said “salty flinky” to mock the kind of sci-fi you did not like because it used too many made-up words. Occasionally, you felt this applied to Ursula K. Le Guin.
Bougainvillea: What was running up the staircase of the apartment building, the one where we shared a wall. Originally from the Midwest, I’d never seen it. The veined leaves reminded me of the skin—purple, magenta, ruby—of another world. It’s of the “four o’clock family,” which means it opens in the late afternoon and closes by morning.
Friendship: A word with very little stability, like freedom and fun, love and pain. Is it friendship if we haven’t spoken in years?
Vouchsafing: The way I granted you all that misplaced admiration.
Gaslight: What the blonde woman was doing to you with those voicemail messages you played for me; what all your exes had done. You were very good to the people who hurt you, and I hated that.
Wraiths: The souls of the dead we never saw. Still, some of our neighbors claimed the building was haunted. Some nights I heard tapping on the wall we shared, but that was you saying goodnight. I knocked back, a silly rhythm. What a comfort to know you were there. Now, I’m not sure where you are, and I don’t know the word for what we used to be.
Wendy Oleson is the author of two award-winning prose chapbooks. Her recent flash appears in No Contact, Denver Quarterly, the Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. Wendy is managing editor for Split Lip Magazine and lives with her wife and dogs in Walla Walla, WA.