David Fishkind

He put his laptop on a chair facing the table. They watched an episode of a highly acclaimed drama that had aired when they were too young to understand it on a channel to which their respective parents had not been able to afford the subscription. He went back for seconds twice. He drank from the glass. When she said an actor’s name, that episode’s eerily unfamiliar guest star, he failed to recall that name, to himself, minutes later, and googled fat and kind of scary eyed actor also comedian on his phone. He could feel her watching him as he approached the bathroom.

He felt heavy over the sink. He had been thinking, before she came in, he thought, about… About… He tried to remember what song had been playing and if that had affected what he was trying to remember. He considered whether he had felt cold, if it had been something about needing to ask the landlord to turn up the heat, and, picking with his fingernail a fleck of some long since unidentifiable body from the mirror, he resolved to remind himself to write things down more often. And that he didn’t remember if he’d just washed his hands and rubbed them, dry and raw in the ever-something night. Also one of them was numb. He thought, ever-stirring night? ever-going? he could recall the sound in his head, from a lecture years earlier, from a falsetto, of sweet something… He thought, ever-going, ever-drowing. The thought of had he thought of it before slid past his conscious worries, and he stepped back into the living room, where Laura lay on the couch with her laptop wearing an expression of deep concern.

He glared at her and opened the pantry and removed the bottle. In bed, trying to remember what had so frustrated him minutes earlier, he sat up, and again to the fridge, spilled orange juice around a glass.

His rage was salient. Almost salty, she thought. And as she looked up he was awaiting her gaze with a sneer. She closed her eyes and heard the sink turn on, then off, then on again. He walked away, and she looked up to see that it was off.

She doesn’t want me to say anything except she engages me, insists that I, he thought, in the shower. Then, closing his eyes, thinking, she wants that I just don’t… The thought was replaced by images: one from a moment in the library, legs descending from a skirt to a pornographic frame, a woman laughing. Another: a look of deadness on the subway home when she, a stranger so unlike Laura, slovenly and magnetic, had met his pending eyes. Skin showing through her tights. Acute, impatient shaking of her leg. Her leg, and heel undulating, knee touching his pushing back on it pushing back on his in scarcely present, still semblant, pressure. He stayed on the look of deadness until he felt a familiar relief-cum-lack of relief and opened his eyes. He washed himself and stood shivering behind the glass panel. ―Laura, he yelled quietly. ―Laura, I forgot my towel.

In bed he tossed, felt the sheets between his toes. He let out a sob and sat up, pulling socks on from the floor. A streetlamp blushed through the curtain.