An Enviable Marriage
When he arrives home, there is the general flourishing of event—nothing excessive, perhaps some combination of children stopping and turning and rushing the door, or voices calling from separate rooms, or the leaping of the dog, or the door, when it closes, latching in a satisfactory way, the sealing of the gasket and the crisp click of the latch. When he walks into the kitchen, there are the children who sit, doing their maths, at the table, who look up and see the face of their father, their cheeks softening, their lips parting as if prepared for greeting, as if wordlessly ready for the approach of the father. When he sets his briefcase on the chair and lays his jacket over his arm, he sighs a contented sigh, extending his neck, rolling his head, his chest flexing and testing the buttons of his shirt. The kitchen is pink with light, pink countertops and the sun, not yet set, coming through the open door leading to the veranda. When the woman from outside steps into the kitchen through the open door, the children turn their faces to her, smiling as if sweetly as if now we are all here. Oh, hello, says the father to the woman who has come into the kitchen. But the woman who has come into the kitchen is not the mother of the children, doesn’t seem to be the mother, she is a woman standing barefoot on the linoleum. She is wearing a fine blouse, pink with ruffles around the neck and around the cuffs of her sleeves. She is looking at the father, she is looking at his eyes. The children smile back and forth, looking at the woman and looking back to the father. I’m sorry, says the father. There must be a mistake, says the father. He meant to say a misunderstanding—there must be a misunderstanding—but he said mistake instead. He only now notices the woman’s hand, her left hand, which is on top of the table and inching forward. Her left hand is sliding across the surface of the table in a slow, spiderly fashion, even as the woman herself remains fixed, looking at the face of the father. The father looks at the creeping hand. The woman looks at the father. The children look to the woman and then to the father. The woman begins to tilt, tugged at the shoulder by the hand, which continues easing its way across the surface of the table. Finally, the woman’s hand reaches the fruit basket. She moves from fruit to fruit—from apple to kiwi to peach and peach. The children have returned to their maths. The kitchen is pink with light. The woman’s hand settles on a peach, squeezing its soft flesh firmly. Looking at the father, she widens her eyes, she tightens her lips. The father lays his jacket on the pink countertop, he takes a step forward, he grabs her by the wrist.
If, then, when my world ends, I will look back, I will think about the way she was with her arms spread out, and that her world too, has ended, is ending, may soon end, and every bit of loving her was also pain and sadness, was also the world ending by means of little crawlies under the skin, over the skin, little crawlies working their way in through nose holes, eyeholes, ear holes, assholes, little crawlies dirtying us under our skins, our world ending because of them even though we could not see them, and is there anything more humiliating than this? Where are the bangs! The pops! The cold of the steel against my forehead as I tremble, and tremble, and beg, and praise life, and tell the man, this wicked wicked man how good I have it, how good we all have it, tell this wicked wicked man to live and let me live, tell this wicked man that I won’t spill the beans, won’t tell a soul, that he can do to me all the wicked things he’s done and wants still to do and no one will know, only he and I will know and we will hold it to ourselves and go on living out there in the beautiful beautiful world and then POP! I am down, but still not gone, still a weak thread, trickle trickle out in pool of blood, halo of blood, beautiful and red and so so VISIBLE, the inside part of me OUTSIDE for the world to see, would this not be better, so much better, than little invisible crawlies making me diseased, making me like some petri dish of slime, of goop, of bloody, red red goop that no one sees as these crawlies do their bathings and their nasties in my red red blood? If, then, when my world is ending there is no flashing in the sky, no fire in the trees, if, then, there is no weeping and gnashing and regretting and whatcouldhavebeens, if we are not getting high together, not getting drunk together, not getting FUCKEDUP because the world is ending, and it is, instead, only me, only me and I am only sad, confused, secretly FUCKEDUP but not on drink and drug, FUCKEDUP on thinking that she is there staring at me, staring at my flushed face, looking, maybe, at my hands on some white sheet, thinking that my hands on that white sheet are so still, are dead already, that beneath the skin on those hands are little green tubes of red red blood with those crawlies feasting, eating away at the will of my hands to look not so plastic, not so placid, sickly flaccid hands, humiliating my fingers flat and at peace like I am very much not, resting on the blanket, and she is looking at them as I lie and wait and wait and then (popless, bangless…sizzzzzzle) I am gone and she will still be there and she will still be looking and I will not know and the crawlies will keep their feasting, not knowing, not caring what becomes of me. So Glory, Glory, Halllllelujah, if then, my world to end, arms all windwhipped down and down tumbling from the top of this or that cusp, head over heels and the only advice left is to dig a hole and make it deep and let the sun be blotted out and let the sky turn red red and the nations rage and rend your garments and douse yourself with ashes and listen for the trumpet for the breaking of the seals the rising of the waters the frothing of your blood the stars and planets falling tumbling down and down to take her in a quick embrace and look her in the eyes and feel the life pulsing through your living fingers your clenching flexing fingers and wind your neck around her neck to the rhythm of those cantering horsemen as you mimic that manyheaded beast and tumble down and down and make your bed in the depths where there is nothing but the presence of God.
2 + 2 = Ok, me
by Andrew Felsher
... Say Ok I’ll Name that / Unfortunately then / build a container / made of sand ...
by Salvatore Difalco
... I refrigerated a bag of new potatoes ...