As promised, I have a piece of flash fiction for you this Friday! I am a little hesitant to post it–I was checking out a bunch of strange photography last night and was in a weird place, writingwise–but Andrew assures me I will not completely freak out and alienate all my readers, so I’m going to post it after all.
I’ll Give You Something to Cry About
It is our most sacred promise to each other. He leaves for hours, sometimes days, without telling me where he is going or how long he will be gone. When he comes back he hides baby animals in my house, wounded and dying. He finds them hurt already. The teeth marks aren’t his. I am positive.
Baby rabbits lie curled in my shoes. I feed them milk out of an eyedropper. I chew sunflower seeds and raw pork fat and spit it into the mouths of the baby birds he leaves on china saucers on my table. They die anyway.
In return, when he is home, I put my earbuds in his ears. “This is the song that played in the car the last time you spoke with your father,” I tell him. “This is the song the girl you loved danced to the night she got married. This is the song that played incessantly on the radio the summer you got blistering acne on your back and chest and got banned from the neighborhood pool.”
When one of us starts to cry, we cheer each other on. “Remember your breathing,” we say. “Pull deep, from the diaphragm. Try not to cough.” He pounds my back just below the ribcage, demonstrating proper rhythm for sobs. Sometimes I have bruises. When he cries, I wrap my arms around him from behind and squeeze his lower belly. His stomach hair bristles under my nails. His snot drips on my wrists. We hand each other water bottles so we won’t get headaches.
In a perfect world, we would sit all day on the wood floors in our dark apartment and cry together for days at a time, pausing only for water or sleep or sex. As it is, we find what time we can and send letters for the rest. “A little blood came out of its beak just before it died,” I write in the notes I tuck in your glove compartment. “I drank coffee outside. The freesias will be blooming soon.” “Your thumb in my navel is a fishhook,” you write back. “My father says happy birthday.”