She knew a lie when she heard it. She imagined his lies erupting in gasps, replacing the atmosphere. As she listened, she drew a circle on her palm, feeling her fingernail, round and round, tracing a spot the lies couldn’t touch. She watched him, his eyes intent on hers, his fingers interlaced, resting in front of him. When he had finished lying, she put her palms down and stood up, walked over to the door, and held it open for him. She wanted to say some words that might end this, but the air was too crowded, and her palm burned, so she said nothing as she closed the door and opened every window.
Following behind him, a jagged pain ran up her leg like getting a shock from putting the pointy end of a safety pin into the electrical socket under the table of Aunt Connie’s house. The beach gave her no clue. Whatever it was had left a penny-sized hole on the bottom of her foot, taking off all seven layers of skin. It was beautiful; bright red muscle with articulated white lines in parallel geometries, all set in a perfect circle. It didn’t hurt. There was nothing there, just the smooth dark stain left by salty foamy waves, peeling back and forth, back and forth. So, she went on with her days and nights, months and years, and wore all kinds of shoes, went barefoot, got pedicures, and all the things. Various people in various situations regarding the foot told her it should be hurting, aching, throbbing, smarting, burning, stinging, raw, sore, tender, troublesome, and otherwise. Never happened.
Gemma had a headache. The kind which still feels like a vise even after one or two or three extra aspirin on top of the four she had swallowed. It had become a daily habit, and she knew she shouldn’t take so many, but the pain in her head never stopped, only oscillating at a lower register until the volume rose again. She didn’t know if the headache or the salicylic acid let her hear things differently, so when he appeared before her and slapped her face, she could only smile. And say Yes. It was the first word she could think of, and it erupted, red, in a perfect circle.
by J. Alan Nelson
... Where's my blue van ...
Johannes Göransson Interview
by Matt Lee
... The best art is always gratuitous ...