The lock clicked at nine. The sun set against the clustered houses, suburbs of the city, houses lined shoulder to shoulder. Mary entered light-footed; her insides buzzed as her skin hit the air of their shared dwelling. A cold whoosh. A shock.
Behind her the broken screen door smacked.
Tad jolted from the couch as her car crushed at the gravel driveway. He watched the blue blur pass the windows. In its wake he straightened up the room, uprighting pillows. He slicked back his hair.
He bolted toward the kitchen when the door banged. She stood framed in the doorway. Her hair curled and twisted along her slender face. Only a day apart but he’d waited for her return. He felt compelled to move toward her and scoop her into his arms, yet the awkwardness of the space stopped him: the square of the kitchen enclosed them, each facing the other across an unforgiving diagonal.
“Hi,” Tad’s voice hung in the air. Mary adjusted her balance and pushed strands of hair behind her ear.
Silver flashed from her earring in the light and jarred Tad’s memory. Pain in her unforgiving eyes hit him, an uppercut. He broke the distance to embrace her. He hugged her harder than her body language indicated she wanted. His face sunk into her hair, and he inhaled the lavender scent before he let out a brief sob. The wetness crept unto a few strands of hair and clung to his face. When it’s easy he loves her without reservation. He’ll apologize and she’ll allow it. When it’s complicated – when the alter ego of addiction consumes his body – he builds barriers against her. Continue reading
Brain rocked dry spell,
this green fist
plush flesh and hair
with supposed despair
followed by shakes, caught
sitting through night
until red daybreak
catches itself up
and yellows to work.
misting silent live oaks,
leaves dropping on trucks
I still have the same sex fantasy about my dead friend that I had when she was alive. I try not to let it happen often, but when it does, she’s still super into it – toenails red, shaved here and there, happy to play in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. Before we remove ourselves from each other, we talk about what an awesome idea this was. We giggle and stuff. Our bodies are the bodies we had in twelfth grade – lithe and tireless. She glistens with a soft, damp sheen. The lights are all on. She doesn’t care that I’m not part of the cool group she usually hangs out with. None of it makes much sense.
Sometimes, when I’m done fantasizing, I apologize out loud.
I never make it past the sex part, but if the fantasy comes into my head when I’m doing other stuff and not horny enough to bother, I imagine that there’s no cleanup involved; she just pulls her jeans on and raids my parents’ fridge. Maybe we watch cartoons in the living room. The scene outside the window is gray and featureless. I have no idea where my parents are.
based on “Proof of the Pudding,”
a short story by O. HENRY
PUBLIC DOMAIN: “Proof of the Pudding,” which was included in O. Henry’s 1910 short story collection, “Strictly Business,” is in the public domain.
When she sits down on the couch with you, holds your hands, and looks you in the eye, you will not have to guess what’s coming next. After all, you’ve been expecting this for months, waiting in agony for this day to come. The love has already flickered off. She will be gentle and kind, like she always has been, but in the end, you will have to sleep at your friend’s apartment that night. Your friend will comfort you by telling you the stories behind their tattoos again, and drinking wine with you. Eventually, they will get tired, and so will you. Their spare room is large enough for your thoughts to run free. For the next two hours, your heavy eyes will be held up by jumbled and confused questions, and the last thought that flashes in your mind before sleep wins is the beginning of accepting a lie: tomorrow will be better.
You will wake up in that unfamiliar bed, back aching and sore, and wonder where you are and who you went home with this time. Memories of last night fade into view as you crawl out of bed and into the bathroom. Your friend will have already gone to work, and with no one there to confirm your story, you will doubt your memory; after all, you are getting older. Besides, sometimes dream weavers can lie.
I have a fatal attraction to shoes. For a brief period, in my early adulthood, I strayed into a certain leather handbag attraction, but I never lost my lust for shoes.
A deep leather handbag, one that can hold a toaster comfortably, gave me a sense of completeness. What can go wrong in my world when I’ve got everything I need slung over my shoulder? Eventually the price of a good leather handbag exceeded my budget, and, like bitter lovers, we broke up.
Shoes have always captured my attention, with an urgent whisper saying You must have me! I was five years old the first time it happened. I begged for a pair of shoes like the older girl next door was wearing. “Can I have a pair of Beverly shoes?” I whined. They were red canvas espadrilles with long laces that entwined up Beverly’s ankles. To my five year old eyes they were riveting. Continue reading