Friday, July 16


It's thirty minutes after I spent an hour crying. Him and I are in a freshly-cleaned stall, my head on his chest. The mare we are sharing it with is heavy with foal; every now and then her stomach ripples with a kick from the baby inside her. She's been through all this before so she doesn't really notice, just keeps whuffling around her stall, keeping an eye on me and him. She has always taken care of me when I need it.
 
He lights a cigarette, knowing good and well how stupid it is to do that in a barn. We watch the smoke drift upward in the dull light. "What's your favorite thing about me?" I ask.
 
He takes a long drag, considering. "I have to pick one?"
 
I look at him, silent. My eyes and lips are red like blood.
 
"Your jeans," he says, "your inability to take a joke most of the time. Your laugh. Your reinactments." Pause to inhale more smoke, breathing tar towards his death. Smirk. "The face you make when you come...for the third time." Me, still saying nothing, just watching. His ears and teeth flash when the lightbulb flickers off and then back on. "The way you talk about your characters like they are real people."
 
I smile, just a little. He wants to kiss me but doesn't, because what I said is still in his ears: don't fucking touch me! jesus, don't even come near me. He squeezes where my ribs used to be and gets up to put out his cigarette.
 
Out in the pasture, Aster's call cuts through the midnight air. "Go tell Aster you're ok," he says.
 
I kiss the pregnant mare's nose, tell her thank you for sharing her home, and go outside. Aster is standing by the fence with her ears pricked and mane tangled. Her nose trembles in recognition as I open the gate. She steps towards me, puts her head over my shoulder so she is standing over me protectively. I lean into her. She smells like summer and happiness.

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