The Orange Room Review

Accessible poetry of substance

Never Buy a House

by Ally Malinenko

She tells me she has no pension. Reminds me to save.
Save for yourself, save yourself she says,
and I run my tongue over the smooth surface of my teeth.
I nod my head. Then remember we're on the phone
and she can't see me anyway.
She tells me about the basement. Don't ever own a house she says.
I tell her I won't.
What's the point anyway, she says. It's just the two of you.
It's not like you're having kids, she says.
And I wonder if that is just one more sacrifice
that I make effortlessly, like biting off an errant nail.
I think of the women in my life, the ones with a desperate clawing need
to see a child, to hold a child, to look at her and know that some part of them
has gone on. Women and men, all of them, cheating death.
I think of these women who told me no matter what,
let nothing stop you if you want to have a child. Nothing.
Not even the father. There is nothing more important.
I bite at my nail, then pick it from between my teeth.
She tells me there is mold in the basement
even after they had it fixed.
We took the cheap route, she says. We were cheap and now we have to pay for it.
I ask her what it will cost, thinking back to my own checkbook
that now lies on the shelf in the kitchen.
How much?
She clicks her tongue in disgust.
For awhile she is quiet. And I think about her on the deck outside, on the phone,
the way the stars up there are different than down here
where they can't cut through all the city lights.
We should have stayed, she says, after awhile.
We should have stayed in the city. But then you probably wouldn't exist.
I make a joke. She laughs, a little honking noise.
No, dear, she tells me. For sure, you wouldn't exist.
Just promise me, you'll never buy a house. It's killing me, she says. It's killing me.

ALLY MALINENKO has been writing stories, poems and novels for awhile now. Occasionally she gets things published. Her second book of poetry entitled Crashing to Earth is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press and her first novel for children entitled Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb was recently published by Antenna Books. She blathers on over at