An Undergraduate Literary Journal from UW-Milwaukee

Here’s a Something About Jam

Fiction by Andrew Mathwick

Amy Snodgrass will look in the mirror before school. “Is this really as good as it gets?”
she’ll think.

Later in the day, Amy will be sitting in Honors English, making everyone feel very
uncomfortable with her latest suicide-themed poem.

“I think about suicide at least twice a day,” she’ll say in an annoyingly optimistic tone of voice, followed up by an even more annoying plug to her SleepIsGoodDeathIsBetter.tumblr.

“But that’s the art, the annoying optimism contrasting the depressing theme,” or at least that’s what she’ll tell her mom, who will genuinely worry about her daughter’s mental health on a daily basis.

Amy’s mom will have a troublesome amount of conversations with her coworkers about Amy, full of words like “phase” and “Who could blame her with all these twitterers and facebookers—if I were her I’d be horribly sad too.” Amy’s mom will maintain a consistent and hysterical grin that she’ll do so well during these talks.

Sometime around 2 am, Amy Snodgrass will get a Facebook message from Chase Denecke. Chase will be in Amy’s Honors English class. Chase will send Amy Facebook messages at least once a week. Messages like, “Hi Amy” and “Hi, I read your blog today—I especially liked the, ‘I’m sorry, again’ poem.” Chase is going to make it painfully obvious to Amy that he’ll love her. Amy won’t be interested in Chase. At some point Amy will describe Chase as, “pretend-sad . . . he pretends to be sad, like, he’s not actually sad like me. If he were actually sad like me, I’d date him.”

Amy will however, pay some attention to Chase. Amy will only pay some attention to Chase because he’ll be the only follower of her poetry blog. There might be other reasons why Amy will give Chase attention, but Amy will fully convince herself that it is strictly because of the 1 view he’ll bring to her life.

Chase will approach Amy before Honors English. Chase will physically approach her in a depressing way. A depressing way that will be carefully calculated and thought out by Chase the night before while he will have creeped through her Facebook photo albums in the dark at 4am. Chase will make sure that every move he makes physically and emotionally in the presence of Amy is thought out the night before.

“Hi,” Chase will say to Amy. Chase will be very aware of his facial expression at this point; he’ll keep it indifferent. Amy’s eyes will be focused on some sort of internet-famous poetry book, but she’ll move her attention to Chase briefly. “Hi,” she’ll say, with a miserable look on her face. A miserable look that will say, “The only thing keeping me alive right now is black coffee and the hope that someday everything won’t hurt.”

Amy will move her miserable face back to the book, completely ignoring Chase. Chase will attempt to say something smart, only managing to say something completely inaudible, losing any hope he will have to regain her attention. “Complete failure,” Chase will think, then depressingly make his way back to a desk.

Chase will be unaware that the depressing walk he’ll do will be what Amy considers “truly uncalculated sadness.” This organic depression is something Amy will notice and think about later that night when she’ll write her daily poem.

“I’m going to turn you into strawberry jam,” she’ll write.

“I’m going to turn you into the jam,
smear you on a slice of untoasted sourdough,
then spit you out all over an overpriced plaid rug.
You’ll taste sad.
Like coffee on a raining Sunday when I have a great tweet in mind.
I’ll be sure to crush the jam into the red spots on the carpet,
So Mom won’t see.
It’ll blend in, like how it was before.
I’ll lick the carpet-jam off my fists,
It will taste like burnt carpet.”

Amy will title it, “Here’s A Something About Jam.” She won’t be sure how Chase’s depressing walk influenced her poem, but she’ll know that somehow it played a part.

These thoughts will confuse Amy, leading her to click on Chase’s Facebook profile. Here she will spend almost three hours looking at his ‘likes’ and photos. Amy will subconsciously compare everything on his profile to her profile. There will be many similarities. Amy will justify these similarities to herself by thinking things like, “He probably looks at my profile all the time; I’m sure he ‘likes’ all the same things as me just to get my attention.” Amy’s assumption will be correct.

There is one photo of Chase that Amy will stare at for more than a few seconds. A photo of Chase sitting in a wooden chair, while looking at the ground with a depressed facial expression. This photo will have been put through a sepia filter or something of that nature. Amy will feel tempted to click the ‘like’ button on that photo but will stop herself in the fear of Chase getting overly excited.

Almost crying from the events earlier in the day, Chase will be saying out loud to himself, “What do I have to do to get her to notice me?” periodically putting his head down to let a tear or two, out then bringing it back up to look at Amy’s Facebook profile picture.

“All I want to do is be a bird with you,
I want to go inside the moon with you!!!!
Live there and be warm with you.
I want to pour milk on your face,
You will scream and say,
‘I’m lactose intolerant, idiot!’
I will be silent and laugh.
You’ll look serious and say,
‘that’s okay it’s all okay alright it’s okay that’s okay it’s alright okay sure okay yeah okay sure.’”

Chase will write that poem after some minutes of feeling incredible sadness from thinking about Amy.

The poem will give Chase a little confidence. Chase will look at the poem and think, “WOW” many times. This will lead Chase to get an urge to send Amy a message. Chase will convince himself that maybe sending her a message to explain what happened in class would be a good idea. The way Chase will justify this is by thinking, If I can play it off to her that I was acting weird and not really saying anything as a joke, then maybe she’ll think it’s funny and like me more. It won’t be until Chase actually sends the message, which will say, “Can we talk?” that he’ll realize, big mistake.

“Can we talk?” will pop up on Amy’s screen the same time that she’ll be looking at Chase’s pictures. Amy will sit there and stare at the message for a minute. Amy will feel vaguely creeped out, but also she’ll feel interested. Amy’s feelings toward Chase will have become a little confusing over the past day. This will make Amy think that talking to Chase isn’t such a bad idea.

After another minute of planning a response that makes it seem like her feelings are still indifferent, Amy will type, “Sure?”

Seeing the question mark after “Sure” will cause Chase to feel incredibly high levels of anxiety. To Chase, the question mark will symbolize Amy loading a gun, pressing it up against his temple, and whispering into his ear, “One more word, and I’ll shoot.”

Without responding, Chase will shut off his computer and crawl to bed. Chase will lay there, all night, sad, thinking deeply about Amy’s question mark. There will be moments where he’ll convince himself that the question mark wasn’t such a big deal. Chase will even at one point think that maybe she “Accidentally, in a hurry, hit the question mark button by mistake.” Chase will laugh about the whole situation. Unfortunately for Chase, these brief moments of hope won’t last. By morning Chase will feel the worst he’ll ever feel in his entire life.

Amy will wait almost two hours for Chase to respond to her, “Sure?” There will be no response after two hours. Amy will fall into bed, to her surprise she’ll be feeling worried. Amy will lay there, unable to sleep, wondering why Chase didn’t respond to her response. This behavior, which to Amy will seem like “Not Chase-Like Behavior,” will cause Amy to think things like, “Maybe he’s sadder than I thought” and “I should have ‘liked’ the sad chair photo.” To Amy, these troubling thoughts will make her feel sadder than normal, and by morning Amy will be asking her Mom, “Do we have any strawberry jam?”

This will be the first time Amy will have ever asked for strawberry jam. This change in Amy will start a chain of events in which Amy’s Mom will start to believe that “Maybe Amy is getting happier. Asking for strawberry jam is something she’s never done before . . . I think her face looked emotionally different than normal, too.” Amy’s Mom’s coworkers will seem relieved to hear of an emotional change in Amy. Amy’s Mom will even hysterically say the words, “New Start!” to her coworkers. Her coworkers will say things like, “Congratulations, Amy’s Mom!”

While Amy’s Mom will feel a little relieved that maybe her daughter is changing, the horrible truth will be that Amy will actually be sadder than before. She’ll just be sad in a different way. Amy’s Mom will successfully mix up the emotion “happier” with “sadder.”

Chase will feel tempted to skip Honors English. Chase will debate within himself whether or not that is a good idea. Chase will tell himself that seeing Amy is a bad idea. Chase will make up a phrase, “Real Life Facebook Disaster,” to describe the events he went through the previous night. He’ll say “Real Life Facebook Disaster” multiple times in his head over the course of the day leading up to Honors English.

Amy will purposely walk into Honors English just before the class will start. Amy will instantly make kind-of-eye-contact with Chase. Amy will sit down quickly. Amy will be in a chair that is far away from the chair Chase will be in.

Amy will draw random scribble things all around a piece of paper. Amy won’t pay any attention to what she’ll be scribbling. Amy will be hoping that she’ll be making Chase think that she’ll be doing something very important that doesn’t involve Chase at all.

Chase will almost instantly notice Amy scribbling. Chase will put his head down and think, “I wonder what she’s doing that doesn’t involve me at all.”

Amy will look down at what she’ll have drawn.

I don’t like this.”