Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love Forever

He only sneezed when he smoked. She waved her hands at the air. She winced. She opened windows. She thickened her tongue. She grabbed her throat. She feigned vomiting

He went on with it. On with smoking. On with loving her. He watched her cross the room and try to open the window. She grunted when it stuck.

She jammed her forearm under the window and grunted. Not about to ask him. She pushed it up a third. It stuck. She pulled back the curtains on the other window. She looked into the parking lot at the side of the apartment house. A man in a brown suit rummaged through the trunk of a brown Altima. She adjusted her red-framed glasses.

"Is the chicken organic?"

"It's organic," he said flatly, his eyes staring into the cigarette smoke rising around him. "You don't need organic, but if you think you need organic."

"Do you want me to have a hysterectomy?"

He flicked some ashes in the empty milk carton on the kitchen table. "No, I don't want you to have a hysterectomy."

He picked up the coffee cup. The cup had a crack that ran just under the handle and off into a blue flower. Would it break with the heat? If it broke with the heat and splashed down the front of him, would he have an excuse to move out?

"I don't want you to get sick," he said. "I don't care if we don't have children."

She eyed him warily. "You say that. You always say that, but you always ask me. Every month you want to know. And you don't seem glad when it comes."

It was due any second now. This time, yes. A twitch. A rush. He smoked. He felt her backing away, her face turning sour, just hating the smoke.

He heard her zipper. He looked up from his cigarette. Her lips were wet. He heard her pants button pop. Then the zipper. Sheer panic rose in his stomach and shivered through his chest. He wanted to run. He loved her so deeply. He was afraid she'd leave the room. Do it, he said to himself. She must have felt it. Yes, he knew, that she knew.

She zipped up and went to the refrigerator. "Do you want some organic chicken?"


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