When I look out the window all I can see is her reflection. It fills the

glass like a disfigured Greek statue. Striking and serious and it wonít go

away. She was born to analyze and peel away the skins of every emotion,

every response, every facial expression. And after that, the pain of the

crying always comes until thereís soreness about the eyes and your head

hurts. Thereís no way around that part. I want her to stop but she wonít.

Iím not man enough to stop her. Iím not man enough to admit sheís right.

The words are heavy as concrete on my skull and the shimmering neon

outside in the darkness makes me sick to my stomach. Cigarettes burn in the

ashtray down to nothing but we donít care. She wonít be quiet about my

smallness as a person, my fear to give her one inkling of the truth. I could

jump from here and not feel it. I think for a second thatís what Iíll do, but

the thought washes away from me, drifts away like the tide, changes

everything in its path from here on out. Every part of me is a product of

erosion. I, for one, can see it on my face and feel it in my bones. Right

down to the marrow. I think sheíll get violent soon. Sheís prone to that and

Iíve got the scars to prove it. I want to rip my brain out and pin it to the

wall. Right next to the ugly Uzilevsky print - customary artwork for rooms

at this price range. Figure out where I went wrong in the jumbled mess that

looks like a poorly diagrammed sentence. There Iíd be, finally the analyzer,

blood dripping down the wall, trying to locate the misfire, the gap in the

wiring, the burnt fuse. Trying to discover where in my history I thought it

was okay to be the bastard I turned into. I canít face her. I canít admit

anything now and still she rants. I canít even lie anymore. Our togetherness

is fiery and turbulent, pushing each other as far as we can, as close as we can

to the thin ice over water. Then we wait and watch. Meet in one of these

rooms and see which one will put their foot out and step on the watery glass.

Which one will get chilled to the bone. Primal, fiercely connected at the

soul, we fight like caged animals for a piece of each other, then take turns

sewing our skins back on while we brush back the bangs from our tears. It

may be best to end it but we wonít let that happen. It would take away the

oxygen and if a thing has no breath...well...

          Scarlet darkness shadows the room now and thereís something

Christ-like about the color of it, some complex late night sacrament, but

Iím not ready to figure it out. She wonít be quiet. Sheís right about

everything. I canít take much more. My head is pounding. Lord knows I

deserve the beating Iím taking.

George's fiction has appeared in WordRiot, Apollo's Review,
LIVE/nude words, and Maverick Press, among others. He lives in Austin,
has four daughters, and is working on a novel.

© 2004 Underground Voices