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“Show me what two women in love looks like,” he says. “And I won’t kill you.”
He’s vibrating in his seat across the kitchen table from us. “And sloppy tongue-kissing won’t fool me. That’ll just get you done faster.” He leans forward. “I want to see tenderness.” He means every word. His eyes are glassy, but not like a drunk’s. He’s a disciple kneeling at the foot of his deity, all the while demanding a miracle be done right just now. “I need to know if it’s possible.” It isn’t. Not for us. We’ve been drifting apart for God knows how long. We still share the same house only because it’s more convenient to pay a mortgage using two incomes. But I don’t love her, and she doesn’t love me, anymore.
He’s expecting something — wants it, needs it — but I can’t think of anything to do but be certain I’m about to die. I didn’t even hear him come in. Just walked into the kitchen and found him sitting splay-legged at the table, cleaning his nails with a tiger claw threaded onto a narrow strip of leather. He had gluey red tracks across his knuckles. I froze, angry, thinking she’d invited someone over without warning as she’d taken to doing. It was her way of punishing me for pulling away first.
We used to kiss in an endless way, both of us resting lazily in it, lip to lip to lip to lip. But I’d started to feel less and less. It wasn’t another woman. I just didn’t have any hunger, any need for her touch, like I used to. I began to relish aloneness. Even if it only meant lying on my back in the second bedroom, off and away in my own mind, cloaked in a private abyss.
She tried to invade my new ritual of solitude by laying next to me one evening. She draped her arm across my stomach, snuck her nose between the wrinkle in my bent neck and started stamping her glossy mouth along it. I arched away from her. You wouldn’t know I’d moved unless you studied the recorded action beneath a magnifying lens, amplifying the pixels and the light until your retinas disintegrated in response. But she felt the air hit her lips in place of my skin. She went stiff for one agonizing second before propping herself up on an elbow to squint at me, asking without asking, Did you mean that? I continued to stare at the ruins of thickly painted stucco pyramids suspended from the ceiling, wishing one would break off and land in my eye. Then she left the room, and that was the end of us.
I reach across the arm of my chair now to hold her trembling hand.
Gianni Washington is an American expat living in London. She earned her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design, and is currently working toward a Creative Writing PhD at Surrey University. Her work has appeared in The Fat City Review online, and the horror anthology Brief Grislys.