Photo courtesy of & © Alina Noir.
Clasp Broken by Johanna
My husband’s lips are red with deception. They pucker and spit when he speaks. The blood rushes his mouth. He kisses hard like he is numb. He kisses soft when he is uncertain.
My husband drives my car to run errands. He fills it with gas. When it rolls into the driveway, the engine purrs and shuts off and there is silence.
In the winter, my husband lights a fire in the stove. He chops wood and covers it diligently. He takes care to keep the wood dry so it will spark faster and burn hotter. Sometimes, he forgets things. When the flue is closed, the room fills with smoke and our eyes tear. We laugh and laugh with watery eyes.
My husband writes the grocery list in red pen because it is convenient. The red pen sits otherwise unused. I moved the red pen to the car once, but the list still came out red.
The earring was red with glass beads. The clasp was broken. I pulled it out from between the car seats while searching for a pen.
By the window, a streak of sun cuts across my husband’s face. He is typing messages. His desk is made of pine. I touch his shoulder to wipe away the light and he flinches. His smile is broken and tethered. I want to strike the red from his lips. I offer him a glass of water. He watches for me to go before he gathers his words back up with his fingers.
He cannot see me in the unlit room, the glass between us, as he turns my car into the driveway. He checks his reflection in the mirror. He scans the seats. He picks up a weighted tote bag.
His door opens and he ducks to exit. His wide shoulders hunch slightly and his brows narrow. He pauses and smiles to no one.
The earring with the ruby red baubles that drip like blood stays safe inside my pocket. I will wear it in the dark while we make love and after he will scream and scream and scream.
Argument As Appendices by Alan
Three days after the towers fell, there was a silence in the streets whose only true sibling in the world is the silence realized when searching deeply for something one never quite had or, perhaps, understood. This idea, too, came and left massively, suddenly.
And so he went looking for you today. Not because of any after fight, imagined or real. No photograph that captured it in the mind. This was a surprise search. Figuring out that you‘re on one while on one. Found himself at the steps of a home you’d never inhabited. Near Park and something. Thought about what an argument might look like because, some might say, there wasn’t enough time. He wasn’t sure about this and the idea (cited earlier) by x…that without conflict there is no intimate.
One final note. The purpose of education is to eradicate fear, said Krishnamurti, so we can be free to love. One gets home and one does not always think of that though that is an answer in the frame, framing. So when two people inhabit the argument, the argument is not them. What is inside, rather, might be a series of carried objects so that the conversation is a lining up. A lining up and collapsing. Two dancers returning from the stage. Undressed by the things they’ve seen. Each other, even, is a thing when one lifts fear like a blanket in fall. Some arguments can go like this. Might go like this. And others, a different way for sure. (See R. Carver.)
It is at this point in the story (not nearly an ending) that the narrator wishes to take back what he said but not necessarily what he thought. (See C.)
A hypothetical: they’re told to argue, so they argue…not because they’re mad at each other or anything else, so inside the lips of the argument is something warm and right and unconditional and smile.
The Skin Where You Can’t Find It by Sherisse
We assume they’re lovers. Because one is a man and the other is a woman. We assume they must be lovers because they’re naked and alone, because the heart of one faces the heart of the other. And that if they’re yelling it’s because they once whispered. We assume that what is being said is private. We think that there must have been some brilliant beginning. We make up a story about how they met. We say they met on a Friday at Neptune, the diner on Astoria Boulevard, near the basketball courts, near the M60 bus stop, near the highway entrance. All the waiters at Neptune were foreign with thick accents, black vests and bow ties. She had stumbled in one evening, dizzy from the change of season and the soft death of post-summer nights. He had been her waiter: a little bit tall, a little bit handsome. She had had chicken soup and mashed potatoes. He had let her try the rice pudding, sprinkled cinnamon on top, handed her a metal spoon as if it were the first kiss on the cheek. He had reminded her of someone. A man she met once, as if by accident. A man she had had coffee with, or tea, in the dark back room of winter. Later on that evening she would imagine untucking the waiter from his trousers, joking with him about the feminine wedding ring on his finger, about the fact that she had had dinner alone on a Friday night while listening to people talk endlessly about steak and eggs and California pie. How had he put up with that for so long? The rants of children and the eerie lights and sop of loneliness. The very fat people and the mess they left behind. She would wonder what he had done with the Sunshine saltines left in their plastic wrap, the remaining and unused packets of butter. Later on that evening she would want to touch herself while thinking of him entering and exiting the kitchen with her food in his hands. She would want to see him again, but only to thank him. She was filled with gratitude but already she was afraid of going back to Neptune, already she was keeping secrets. No, she could only imagine his body permanently positioned near the dessert vitrine, slightly aloof in his black polyester vest. A middle-aged waiter at work exposing gently the monotony of desire. A man too cool for his bow tie.
When You Act Like That You're Ugly or Math by Lyle
When I used to think about farms I thought about barns and