A to X: Xenia

Bonnie had recently taken up meditation. She sat crosslegged on the kitchen floor while her bagel toasted, breathing deeply.

As they always did when she cleared her mind, her regrets flooded her. She wasted her money for an artsy degree she doesn’t use, she broke Michael’s heart, she never calls her mother, she—

Inhale…exhale. She tried to clear her mind, to focus on the color of her eyelids, the feel of her wrists on her knees. Positive energy. Body filling up with white light, mouth exhaling dark smoke.

She moved one hand to her stomach, right below her bellybutton and pressed firmly. “Xenia,” she whispered. “Xenia…Xenia…”

The bagel popped out the toaster and she jumped, eyes snapping open. Craig was there, perched on the counter, watching her with a smile.

“You’re pretty when you meditate,” he said, then hopped down to get a plate for the bagel.

“How long were you there?” Bonnie kissed his cheek that still smelled like stage makeup and rummaged in the fridge for the jam.

“Not long. I didn’t want to disturb you.” He began making coffee. “Who’s Xenia?”

“It’s the Greek concept of welcoming guests.”

Craig laughed. “Look at you. A redhead girl of Belgian descent with a Spanish name using a Greek word to meditate. So worldly!”

“Oh, hush.”

They turned on the radio and began breakfast with soft rock and a brief waltz around the table.

“The Greek concept of welcoming guests,” Craig said as Bonnie polished off the first half of her bagel. “Are your parents coming or something?”


“My parents coming?”

“Silly! No.”

“Well, what guests are we welcoming? Friends?”

“I don’t know.” Bonnie kissed his nose. “None, I guess. I just thought, well.”

She looked down at her tiny belly.

“We’ve been having trouble, so I thought maybe it would help, that’s all.”

Craig melted. He stood slowly, wrapped his arms around her from behind. “Darling…I love you.”

“I love you too.” Then she turned, quick and violent. “Why isn’t this easy? Why is every single thing difficult? Why couldn’t we have just dated out of high school, and got married after college, and had a baby easily, and both have stable jobs and a good income?”

She ran her hands down her reddening face, rushed to her purse on the kitchen table and pulled out a hair band. She threw her hair up in a bun then gave a frustrated huff, her hands planted on her hips.

“I know it’s not all supposed to be easy,” she said, her voice softening. “But it would be nice if something was. Like, anything.”

Craig touched his lips, nodding. He put his coffee on the counter, then went to Bonnie and took both her hands in his.

“Hey. Let’s go do something. I have an idea that will cheer you up.”

Bonnie pulled on a sweatshirt and they walked together into the crisp morning. It was a fine, rosy October morning that convinced Craig to walk instead of taking the subway. They chatted on the way, and Bonnie slowly brightened up. They talked about Shakespeare, architecture, the history of paprika, and pottery. Bonnie told him about the time she took a pottery class. Craig told her about the party in San Diego when his castmate didn’t smash the break-away vase.

“It ruined the whole scene!” he said, and she laughed so loud it echoed off buildings.

They were a rainbow, walking down the street: Bonnie’s orange hair, pink top and yellow shorts complemented Craig’s blue jeans and green button down. They brightened up the city patchwork of silver and black.

“Here,” Craig said, stopping short by the playground. It was empty, except for one grandmother and a young boy. School was in session, of course.

“The playground?”

“Yeah! I thought, maybe, you would want to—”

“Go on the swings?”

They smiled wide and ran for it, racing each other across the woodchips. Craig won by half a second, his hands grabbing the chain links of the swing and making it jangle. He pushed off and soared, even though the set seemed too small for his body, even though he swore the frame began to sway with his weight.

Bonnie caught up to his height soon, and they swung together in the cool air. Bonnie’s wild hair, pulled back for once, revealed her closed blissful eyes and huge smile. When she opened her eyes she caught Craig’s gaze and laughed. Craig laughed with her, competed with her to swing higher.

As they swung together, Craig decided he would like to marry Bonita, his best friend, the one he had once dubbed Bonnie the Brave, the one who never stopped dressing like a kaleidoscope. He would ask her soon, he told himself. Maybe today.