by Ed Taylor

Published in Issue No. 158 ~ July, 2010

She took the gnawed white pencil with the heart-shaped eraser and
marked the wall calendar for that day with a V, pouting. “You were
very mean to me today.” Her: in fur collar and short hair with
plummy lower lip stuck out like that actress she liked.

He moved from the tiny kitchen to the tiny living room, beyond which
sat the tiny bedroom, the place like a doll house inside a larger
house, passing memorials: plastic babies and crosses, feathers,
pill-smooth pebbles, postcards of women artists from the 1600s,
yellowed lace handkerchiefs; organized at places where something
died, she said, or an accident happened.

“That’s where you.” “That’s where you.” “That’s
where we.” “That’s for when.” He lost track, stopped

Mass cards, saint cards, beach glass, a little metal globe. An
apple-shaped wooden top, red, a Matchbox firetruck, a rainbow kid’s
glove with faces at the end of each finger. Bells. Black ribbon,
black bows.

The calendars: saved annually in a stack beside the broken sofa, which
she read instead of magazines. In the bedroom he sidled around the
mattress and its picket of candles like wax rockets, the white wicks
at the tips untouched. Other new things? She smoked again.
And there was a big skull sock like a black tongue stuck out from
under a camisole. Bigger than his feet. Even being careful he still
stepped on a plastic soldier, WWII-era, olive green, and a plastic
lamb, gray with a black face and a smear of red meant, he figured, to
be a bow. It hurt.

When they woke up that morning she had told him about a dream in which she
looked at him on a slide under a microscope, and kept zooming in,
closer and closer, until she shattered the glass. At first she
wouldn’t get out of bed: “I killed you.” Then, later, she had
smiled and eaten, licking her fingers then aiming them and shooting.
“Bang.” She had stood to make the latest one, beside her plate:
a skull key chain from a vending machine and a pamphlet about hell
from a subway seat. Then, humming, she had finished eating.

Now he walked through the rooms, twice, and then, looking at his
watch, yanking the front door shut behind him and hearing the lock
click, it hit him: he was way late in leaving. W.