Monday, 9 April 2012

7: No Sweat

He always washed before first dates, he always whittled the moss that blossoms in his shadowy patches. The tiny gardener in the navy overalls says it’s got to go. The tiny gardener wears marigolds and sinks his fingers into the moist soil, prodding for worms. He yanks them in half because he wants to make life, and he has no womb, has no women to persuade. Look—two worms, four, eight, sixteen. Thirty-two. Zero. Blood and guts.

He washed before first dates, ran a mop over his gutters. He was frightened—what if she smelled him? What if the throb of his need oozed and pearled on his surfaces? If only he could wipe off the years of living, flush away the pavements/held-hands/classrooms/sandwiches. If only he could start again and afresh as a white dishtowel hooked upon the cupboard door. No more spattered spaghetti sauce, please, no more tins. Just him.

He washed before they went out, and she didn’t know what it was, but there was something missing. When she stepped through the door before him, she forgot his face. When she tried to follow his meandering stories, it was like trying to balance on a slow moving bicycle. Too much toppling. She tried her best. She peeled off her clothes and presented the angles of her body, feeling all the while like the bridesmaid posing in the bridal shop dressing room. Clad for someone else’s party.

He seized her with stiff, stiff elbows. Kissed the flat of her cheek, untethered his toggles, and dropped his trousers to the floor. He moved on top of her and tucked a hair behind her ear. “Hello,” he said. “Oh yes, oh yes.”

She could barely feel a thing. His love was like a postcard arriving a week after the holiday. She lay and thought of blank indexes full of unattributed page numbers. She sighed.

And he moved on her, and he began to sweat. Her eyes widened, her nose twitched.

The stadium door latch snaps, the crowd swamps forward. A rifle shot in the bird sanctuary. A thousand flapping wings fill the sky.

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