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IN COMMON by Chance Dibben

Our heads were a perfect match for each other. Inside mine, a wasp that wriggled in and built a nest. It leaves periodically to get pollen, do wasp things, and then returns to the cavern of my ears. Initially, I couldn’t handle the itchy sensation the wasp made when it corkscrewed back into my head—my shoulders rising as if pulled, my spine wound in terror. Enough of anything, though, and you’ll get used to it. How the wasp has lived this long, is a mystery. Maybe it’s not the same wasp.

Inside Amanda’s head is a thunderstorm. I thought she was being cute and flirty when she told me, but no, she shows me a photo taken by an endoscopic camera. Sure enough—a miniature anvil cloud rumbling with purple lightning. “Now that we know we have something in common—how about another drink?” she asks.

Seven PBRs later, we find ourselves enmeshed into each other’s bodies in her apartment. We make love as people living with foreign entities in our heads only can—furiously, passionately, with a pinch of anger. Laying in her plush bed, her hand on my breasts, she begins to sneeze violently. Flecks of light glow in the soft white of her perfect nose.

“Everything okay?” I ask. Amanda blushes and chuckles.

“It’s… know how people get butterflies in their stomachs?”

“For most, not literally.”

“Right. That feeling, that’s what I got now. Hence the rolling thunderstorm, extra rain.”

I smile. Come here I say and pull myself over her.

I am a late sleeper, so when I open my eyes the next morning, I find that she is already looking at me admiringly, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand. We do that disgusting “hey” thing that new lovers do and then I accept the mug. The coffee is enriching and tastes expensive.

“You’re beautiful,” she says to me, leaning in for a kiss. As we connect, a tiny bolt leaps from her nostril and hits me on my mouth. Initially, it smarts bad, then becomes a warm buzz on the nerves of my lips.

“Sorry.”

“No,” I say, grinning.

My wasp courses the ceiling and lands on the pillow, waiting to come back in. I lay down.

“Where does it go?” she asks.

“I never know. It always comes back.”

“What’s it like?”

“By now, it feels amazing. I actually get headaches when it leaves.”

The wasp begins to crawl toward my ear, then zags over to Amanda’s head.

“What’s it doing?”

“It’s trying to get in. Never gone inside another person before.”

“Huh. Should I just let it—“ The wasp burrows into her crisply carved ear. Amanda’s torso vaults up. She ahhs in pain, then moans deeply in pleasure. She pulls my hand over her crotch. Her thunderstorm billows out her open mouth and funnels through my eyes. The light I see and the heat I feel make my head infinite and ever-expanding. It is in this moment I realize I’m going to marry this woman, can almost sense it as clear as taste.

We make love again. After, I suggest breakfast.

“There’s a great place near here—”

“Wickman’s!” Amanda says, finishing my sentence.

On her stoop, as she closes the door, we hear a monstrous buzzing. To the left, a cloud of wasps, murmurating. Down the street, I see an old man step out on his lawn to investigate. I give Amanda a I don’t fucking know look.

To the right, we hear a slow rumble—a thunderhead popcorning high over the horizon.

We shrug. I hold her hand and we walk toward Wickman’s, the storm and swarm following us the whole way. The world is ours for now and the first step to figuring out what to do with it is a big ass breakfast.

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