I want to say you don't put your penis in me anymore, but that doesn't go far enough. It captures the viscera—our bodies not locking jigsaw pieces on damp sheets—nothing more.
We inhabit the same bed: a foreign country. There is no common language; the sounds of marriage are gone. What did you do today? Let me rub your back. Those sounds evaporate into the atmosphere hanging over the bed, ozone clouds of static electricity waiting to discharge.
I need you to nurture me as an animal fallen from a nest. My tender parts crack; my flesh separates from bone, my inner structure dismantles.
Our marriage is a brittle thing; it clings to the shape we make, incapable of breath. Words fall into the vacuum between us. There is no oxygen.
You pick up the mail: words from others. I don't speak; I have no more words. I hug you, press my cheek to your chest and listen to your heart. You drape an arm around me. We embrace the silence.
I drag your stuff through the apartment and down a flight of stairs. You're outside the front door screaming you want to come in. I'm afraid to let you, so I don't.
I have boxes of shirts and jackets to haul. The clothes are here because I let them stay. I let you stay without staying. I let you do as you please; to drop in, use the washer, use the kitchen, use the shower, and leave.
It had to stop. I changed the locks. Now you want your belongings.
You want the sculpture you made of yourself that broke into pieces. You want the blue painting. You want what you want.
You've taken it out of me, these five years. I put the sculpture and painting in a suitcase. I drag them downstairs. I put them on the front porch and lock the door again.
You climb out of your car to grasp handles of bags overflowing. You curse at the door, and me.
I put your toiletries on the sink. One empty bottle of cologne, one full. Instinct tells me to open the bottle, inhale the scent. I know it will bring back a memory so I don't.
I dislodge an electric toothbrush under the sink; the attachments in the medicine cabinet should have been thrown away. Tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash, athlete's foot cream and razor blades. This detritus is yours.
I heap toiletries, anniversary cards, and receipts for items now broken into supermarket bags, suitcases and gym duffles. I take them downstairs, banish them from my life.
Then, there's nothing more to take. The apartment is devoid of things belonging to you. I'm what's left.
I can't watch you drive away.
I walk up, into an apartment without your things. I take a shower. Wash myself clean.
Later, I lie in bed. Not asleep. The baby in the apartment upstairs yowls through the floor into my dark room, screaming and crying.
I am awake.
Like him, I want to scream, and scream, and scream.
Carol Deminski's stories have appeared in Word Riot, PANK, Dogzplot, Metazen, Foundling Review, The Northville Review and elsewhere. She's on the web at http://cdeminski.wordpress.com. She lives and writes in Jersey City, NJ, although not always in that order.
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