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by Mileva Anastasiadou

I went out with my postal code. He asked me out a month ago. I’m not sure, I told him, I’ve only known you a couple of months. It hadn’t been long since I bought my way into that fancy neighborhood. I didn’t feel I belonged and in my case it was true. I’ve known you my whole life, said the postal code. I wondered how old he was but he said it didn’t matter. I’ve lived too long to still hope to be a pop culture icon, he said, but added that age doesn’t count, if you are renewed every now and then. He winked at me, while all I did was grab the electricity bill, from which he’d been staring at me, and head home.

I’d never dated a postal code before. For days, I avoided the mail box until circumstances, or more bills, forced me into him again. I fell onto him like an asteroid would fall on wasteland. We fell into each other, like a jigsaw falling into place. A typical case of serendipity, he told me. I didn’t even know the word, or that postal codes have such a rich vocabulary. I’ve been upgraded, since that gentrification project, he said, I’ve been reborn. I smiled at him, having no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t want to look stupid, asking him to explain another word to me.

We went out for dinner. I had a salad, while he asked for numbers. My age, my salary, my social security number. Postal codes feed on numbers, humans only tolerate them. I felt his tight grip on my thigh, while he asked for my weight, and I wasn’t sure if it was lust or curiosity. Later on, he climbed over me and slipped inside me and he yelled “infinity” in the end, for apparently infinity is also a number, not just a concept, but only “gentrified” persons or regions can claim so.

I had to move out after more bills arrived. He frowned as if he hadn’t suspected I was so “undefined,” he claimed, only he meant “poor.” You didn’t expect this to last, did you? he asked. I did. I wanted to stay in the neighborhood forever. Postal codes can’t truly commit to one person, he said. They belong to the residents. You should come along, I said, although you can’t really expect a postal code to follow you.

I’m now in my old neighborhood, where the local postal code has never noticed me. In fact nobody notices anybody here. We’re all too busy surviving. I feel like I belong here, for here’s the place for the “undefined.” It’s as if a heavy burden is lifted from my shoulders and I float, only I don’t feel liberated like in dreams. I feel scared instead, like gravity doesn’t exist and I will be lost in space soon. Another tiny, unimportant asteroid nobody fears and nobody cares about.

Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist. Her work can be found in many journals, such as The Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, The Sunlight Press (Best Small Fictions 2019 nominee), Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Bending Genres, Eastern Iowa Review (Best of Net 2019 nominee), Litro, and Moon Park Review.