I write a lot about relationships. Not Harlequin, daytime TV type stuff, but the other stuff. The subcutaneous if you will, or rather, I write about the sinew after the smile has been scraped off of it. Enjoy.
We roll up top-down-crumpled-clothes-empty to the motor court. It’s a relief. We’d been screaming highway days long forgotten, and we both stunk of sweaty vinyl, cigarettes, and licorice. There’s so much desert on my teeth that my lips are permanently stuck smiling to them. You wipe yours on your shirtsleeve; smile back at me; tell me I have bugs in mine. I get out of the car, bones creaking in the shifting earth beneath my feet.
A parking lot of sand stretches beyond us, a lone tree clinging to it in the shadow of a snowy mountain range that overshoots the distance so far into the future it seems we might even get there someday. There’s a plaid lounge chair next to the tree, a shipping pallet, and a dog tied up, miserable barking in front of the office door, a rot wood screen door, whitewashed, hanging from one rusty hinge. “Like home,” you say, then you forty-four the dog in the face. The motel owner doesn’t mind. Says he didn’t have the heart for it, and the damn dog was an asshole.
The sickness is coming.
I can already see it in you, your hand shaking when you pay the man with a hundred dollar bill. You don’t want to let it go, and he isn’t sure. Two gnarled hands clasped through sunset over chipped Formica.
I ask him if he has a shovel.
I’ve never been good at running from things. I let a woman seduce me once at a discotheque. There was something about the way she moved across the dance floor, all quicksilver in crimson, nipples pressed tight against silky fabric. We had a few drinks. She flirted with the bartender, not me, so I told her I liked the way her skin looked against the lights and colored glass. Sparkling. Like she was covered in rhinestones. She wasn’t a she though. She was something like me, but more dangerous. She held out her arm. There was barely any flesh on it. Tattooed Bone. Black Market Ivory. The way she looked at me, kissed me in the alley. My Luciana.
It’s getting harder to breathe alms in this vortex.
It’s getting harder to breathe near you.
“It’ll only be a few days,” you say, but I know that’s a lie. The carpet smells of stale whiskey, and the shower drips chlorinated rust onto the floor. The TV is only black and white, but the bed vibrates — for a quarter. We do that a couple of times, pretend we aren’t who we are and giggle until we fall asleep to the coyotes snarling over and tearing at the dog carcass I forgot to bury.
I want to love you.
But I can’t.
Hiatus Concretion was previously published at Metazen, June 2014, and is included in the short fiction collection Kitsch.