CATARINA DE PETERS LEITÃO
When I get home, I hug our gremlins. They are perched on the velvet couch, both of them, touching each other. They’ve been waiting for us all day, the black and white one with big ears and the ginger-white one with a friendlier face and far more flattering ears. Right now it’s just me and the two gremlins, and you’re at work. I can put my hair up and move the gremlins to where I want, inside of our room. There is barely any privacy in an eight-person flat, but this lounge-sized room with its grand views of the city and the ocean is for me, you and the gremlins only.
I can perch them in bed and drape a blanket over them, so that only their cute little heads are poking out. They smile back at me. The sky is turning purple outside, and soon clouds the colour of eggplant skin will paint the overpriced city, with its deserted library, the now-closed state-of-the-art 3D cinema and the lonely hand sculpture that sits atop the City Gallery building. High on the hill in Kelburn, the wind rattles these bay windows like an asthma attack, loud and ever-present. A student is practising the saxophone at the university’s jazz school, opposite our house, at the bottom of the hill. Hayao Miyazaki would like this scene. The woman in the ponytail looking at the sea, with the forceful winds.
The flatmates don’t know about them yet. You and I keep the gremlins as our secret. I went against myself the other day (I don’t keep secrets too well) and tweeted a photo of them as if they were only toys. It got 34 likes—I guess you could say that I’m a proud new mother. I won’t be popular for this, but . . . they’re better than cats because I’m not allergic to their hair. They don’t worry me sick if they’ve left the house for more than two days and return home at the end of the week, all ruffled up from the street. With shredded leaves still stuck in their fur. As if my heartbreak for maybe not seeing them again never happened at all. Cats are fun but I need reliability in my life. The gremlins don’t do this to me. And what a relief that is to my sensitive eyes, always quick to water, to be able to rely on these small things, the permanence of another. I am Capricorn with Cancer rising, after all. Earth & water.
The gremlins are wearing their frozen smiley expression tonight. I hold tightly onto one, then I pick the other one up and I’m glad to be home after a long winter’s day. All I need to feel complete (besides a Swarovski bra and matching tiara) is you here with us. It’s nice that the gremlins don’t cry. I hold onto our ginger daughter. Yes, she’s our girl. You’ll be here around 8.35, you’re a part-time hot dad, with your gingery beard and double denim. I can’t resist you, just like I can’t resist Tyler The Creator. We make the perfect couple for an ad promoting gremlin parenthood. We are sexy gremlin parents—watch out, world.
We agree that they are our kids, because we think it’s funny—Ha! Isn’t she so funny. Her bum is right up your face! Ha, ha—and because we actually want babies. But we can’t afford to be serious about them right now. No, we can’t be serious in this economy; with the churches gone, the forests withering and the man who is orange. Everything that we consider important is burning. All we can do right now is to keep making butt jokes with the toys and keep the humour alive in this crowded house. You hold a gremlin in each hand and raise one at a time as if they’re weights. You are the strongest gremlin father the world has seen. We give the gremlins names that express their individuality, their essence, just like we would our babies. It’s all so exciting. I am now a gremlin mother with purpose.
And right now, I’m caught up in my daydreams of having babies with you. I let myself have them, I cannot help it. I think of us at the movies, because you’re so sexy in the darkness with the changing reds and blues on your face. I think of our blurry red faces when we watched the film Mandy as we kissed, it was tacky but beautiful, and yes Nicolas Cage still can’t properly grieve—just like he couldn’t in City of Angels. Who can in 2019? You rubbed my red fluffy sweater over my tits while Nicolas Cage was furiously searching for Mandy in the woods, the atmospheric black metal of the soundtrack not too creepy or too loud.
And we joke a lot about the gremlins at home, to not think about how badly we want babies. You and I make the fluffy gremlins come to life at night, giving each of them a different voice. Maybe our flatmates can hear the gremlin voices through the walls. But remember, it’s all a joke. It’s the same voice we return to at the end of each day, when we pretend that they’re our children. It’s comforting to me. I love being alive, being with you right now and having these gremlins. I’ll try to not think of real babies because you know what that will do to me. Like cats, the landlord won’t let us have a dog. He also won’t fix the leak on the roof, the draft coming from the unsealed windows, nor can we email complaints to him.
We are still renting and haven’t been together for so long that we can decide to just go and have a baby. I tuck the gremlins under the mink blanket. For now, this is all we can manage.