The tinny sound of the phone’s speaker did no favors to the hoarseness of Gräfenburg’s voice, when she asked, “Does it spark joy?”
Xinjinmeng snorted, as she eyed the halter-top. It hadn’t had the highest thread count to begin with, and today some parts were almost transparent, even in the closet light. “What does that mean, ‘spark joy’?”
“It’s the thing people say about their things.”
“What ‘things’? Marital aids?”
Gräfenburg snorted bemusedly. “Does looking at this thing make you happy?”
Xin’s whiskers wilted. The halter’s silk-screening had faded, only intelligible to someone deeply who had seen the band’s logo when it was new and fresh. “It makes me conflicted.”
“Could you replace it later, if you must?”
“When would I ever need again a halter top with the logo for a musical act that disappeared twenty years ago?”
“Perhaps they will come back into style.”
The halter had yellow pit stains, from the sweat outpoured by long summer nights without air conditioning in venues populated far past the fire code’s count. Xin’s voice rose a few decibels: “So I could stretch it with my sloppy grandma fat?”
Gräfenburg was careful to count to ten in a voice so quiet that the phone wouldn’t pick it up. Then: “…I’m getting the feeling that you have a strong attachment to this. You miss it.”
Xin frowned, and asked, “Do I miss them?”
“Nein, not them. It. You miss the girl who wore this, you wonder what happened to her.”
The halter had a small hole just above the hem, and Xin didn’t know why she could remember that hole had been made by razor wire on a fence that she had no business climbing over.
Xin sighed, “She got old.”
Gräfenburg added, “And fat.”
Xin snorted. “Ugh, yes, and fat. Are you happy?”
Xin couldn’t remember the names of the people who urged her to climb over it, and she could only vaguely remember their faces in the darkness. She wondered where those people were now, if they were in their closets going through their old clothes and if they were also marveling at how much time had passed.
“Do you want to be happy?”
“… I don’t want to be unhappy.”
Gräfenburg coughed. “Ach, you equivocate more than the dean. Do yourself a favor and rid yourself of this thing, what does not unspark your joy and only reminds you of how old and of how fat that you are.”
Xin took one last look at the halter. It felt like it might disintegrate in her hands, like a spiderweb in the changing breeze.
“I could lose weight.”
“Hah! You spark my joy! Now put the thing in the donations bin and then have a biscuit. Let it all hang free.”