Drop #27: Absorption

‘Can I have this?’ She holds up a porcelain tub of yoghurt, timid as a fawn.

‘Of course, anything in the fridge,’ he says, ‘as always.’ It’s been four months and she still won’t help herself.

‘You sure?’ she confirms, as is her habit. It would be unbearable if he weren’t so used to it already, but how had he learned to tolerate it in the first place?

Stale joke on TV. Her laugh is short and harsh, like a jamming latch on an airplane bathroom. Delight in another can be so grotesque. Four months. He has become used to so much, like the bitter taste in his mouth, and the coarse embrace of resignation.

Good news by email. She’s a bad celebrator. Never looks good doing it. He watches anyway for a bit, then turns his back and makes dinner.

The TV’s off. She’s sitting there, holding herself like she just got raped. He’s a few yards away, rereading the same page. He puts the book down to listen when she talks. She tells him she’s stopped being emotional and that she’s sad she doesn’t feel as much anymore, but starts crying as she says it. He cringes, but knows he can absorb this too.

He looks around to force distraction: an adopted mechanism. There are ten cookbooks on the shelf he has never opened, twelve novels he will never read and suddenly, he becomes very sad about the amount of waste that must occur in the world.

She’s stopped crying now. It was only a passing shower, but ’tis the season. He is tempted to fuck her even if he knows it will all be quite numb. When they first met, he felt her primarily, overwhelmingly as sex. Slowly, he’d let the rest in: she meticulously peeled each segment of an orange and ate the tiny capsules individually; she said endearing things like, this is so nervous wrecking, and, Barbie wire; she knitted him gloves, which he lost – it’s difficult not to lose gloves. Within a month the rest, so briefly charming, was all that remained. Well, that and habit.

He pulls out and cleans up, relieved, once more, that she’s bleeding. There is always still time, till it runs out.

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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