Husband or Electric Light
You pull on your running shoes. It is night. You strap your knee. In our living room, you stretch against a wall, one leg straight, the other bent—man runs into wall. I clutch my mug of tea with both hands, and it is the only thing that will keep me warm now. It’s cold out, I say, meaning, don’t go. You say, don’t stay up. I’ll let myself back in. You fold in half, head dropped to the floor, stretch your hips, thighs, hamstrings. No bell tolls, no siren wails, no one says, stop. There is not a sound. Maybe you hear a bell, heard it for years, clang-clang-clang. You sit on the floor, legs in a deep V, lean across to your left ankle. It is your difficult ankle, the one that has given you trouble since high school and a long jump where you landed badly (yes, teenage boy runs through air). You heave yourself to standing, tall, straight. Your eyes are bright. You are incandescent, truly, my love. Blood thrums hot under your skin, your heart beats hard, ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum. You smell of man sport deodorant and our washing powder. You taste of our last meal. I feel you smell you taste you—you there, me here, it makes no difference. No. It makes every single fucking bit of difference. Jesus. You shake out your arms and legs. I walk towards you, your head bent as you slide our front door key from your key ring and leave the rest of your keys on the bookshelf. You remove your watch and wedding ring and leave them on the shelf too. The bell should toll here, should shake us, deafen us, alert dogs and make them bark and howl, rouse people from their sleep, rush to their cars and speed to our house to yell, no, stop! Black is the absence of light (I know that now). I’ll lock the door behind me, you say, smile down at me. You open the door and outside there is no one to stop you, no one at all.
Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in The Penn Review, CutBank, CRAFT Literary, Best Small Fictions 2018, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Wigleaf, among others. Three of her stories were chosen by Dan Chaon for Best Microfictions 2019, including her story “I Wanna Be Adored” (CHEAP POP) which was also chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 for 2019. She lives in Australia. You can find her here: http://www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.
Photo credit: Dean Hochman