She brushes the dust off him. He reaches for the wine bottle. There's a fire inside him. She reaches for the lint roller. There's a fire inside her. They need to leave very soon. He can't find the corsage. She can't find the lipstick. Her mouth is so minty sweet. There's nobody to take pictures. Her camera has a self-timer. They set it on the mantle. He grips her hand too hard. She smiles until the camera clicks. She pulls away from him, disturbed.
The dog needs a short walk. The dog needs a long walk. He ignores the dog and her. He goes outside to smoke cigarettes. She stays inside to perfect herself. He looks to a sleeping street. It is foreign to be here. She looks to a framed photograph. The gray dust is caked thick. Her pink makeup is caked thick. Snow accumulates on the rusty swings. He sits on one and smokes. She thinks it is too cold. There's a fire inside her. He thinks it is too cold. There's rust inside the fire. She ignores the dog and eats. She eats with the blue television. They will be late very soon. He decides he can't go. He goes inside and tells her. She says she thought the same.
He moves himself toward the door. His jacket is over his shoulder. Rust is stronger than fire again. She lingers on his shirt collar. Her little mouth stays fixed horizontal. He leaves footprints in the snow. She wipes dust off the frame. She takes the anxious dog outside. She is free to burn tonight. He is free to rust tomorrow.
We have a guest in the house. They say the disease lives in your skin. It wants to consume you. Can't they see that's already happened? The house is an extension of the skin. The temperature controlled, humidity even. No one can even suggest what may happen. The house wants to consume you, too.
"What are you trying to do? Can we talk about something else?"
If your voice was a music score I'd suggest a decrescendo. You hurt my ears, leave bruises on my brain.
"The summer's over."
The point was not to provoke you. The point was not to be authentic. The body is no two-party system. The body draws no lines between sad and happy.
The authorities told us the house had bad circuitry and bad ventilation. We called an electrician for the house last week and he tracked muddy footprints in. The dog liked him. He was afraid of dogs. I was doing the dishes and I heard my husband making jokes with you upstairs on the death bed.
Smoking is a slow suicide, but you wouldn't die from smoking. Living here is the cigarette of a lifetime. The purest exhale.
My hands were red and scaly from detergent. You had no hair left on your body.
My daughter asked about you last week. All I had left were four, maybe five sentences about your life and death. Your son doesn't know who his father is. Our father always considered you dead.
is a psychology and creative writing student. She tries to understand writing as a natural response to an unnatural environment. The idea of someone reading her work is possibly the most indelible compliment she could ever receive, so she thanks you.