You went the way of the worms so long ago. That’s what I thought when the storm started to pound the house. The walls throbbed – the rotted guts of the wood wanting to bend and then break under the pressure of the sky. I was in bed trying to connect together the dots of why some people get pulled in and why some people get pushed out.
Somewhere between the rattling of chains that were whipped by the hands of thunder and the bits of lightning that illuminated the damp parts of the room, I thought of you. At what point was I just putting names and faces together in my brain? Mix and match. For a long time, you were just a sock that went missing in the dryer. But now, somewhere between the static on my skin and the grinding of my teeth, I lost you again in the current and the current events of my life.
The man upstairs beat down on the ceiling – he wanted to shut me up. The man upstairs always wanted to shut us up. I tried to parse you with him; I tried to pass you through me and you through him. I imagined the man upstairs with a broom spun upside down, the flaky whiskers of the broom irritating his throat and chin. He rasped against his floor and my ceiling. Like all smart men, he tried to use noise against me.
Out of the charcoal that went from bed post to bed post and filled my head, I found you moving through me, again. I was going to live forever as long as I was there by myself – a solo coastline waiting to crash with the storm.
“I want to smash atoms,” I said.
I figured I could pass on the kinetic energy – destroy the few things that had bonded us together. In the intervening moments between start and finish, the spool of life had come together in threads around me. We were reactions – knee-jerks and ass backwards. Life was nothing more than opposites attracting and retracting – hills-valleys, slow then fast, everyone changing, the world sat stationary in the palm of her hands.
With her head pressed against my chest, the tom-tom of my heart timing-up with the spastic movements of muscle and man alike, she sneezed. For a moment, we were connected – and stuck together – from rib to nose – from the garden to the bedroom.
Mathew Serback can type roughly 125 words per minute; his mother is impressed. His debut novella will be published in 2017. He is an assistant editor with Bartleby Snopes. In 2016, his fiction appears in scissors & spackle, The Flexible Persona, Pidgeonholes, The Donut Factory and Yellow Chair Review.