This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
FICTION takes my pulse. I sit on the floor next to the couch. I close my


eyes and put my head back. He closes his eyes too, and I think he’ll fall asleep in ten minutes. But I hear him talking softly, so I lift my head. “I’m Rob,” he says, introducing himself. “I know who you are,” I whisper back. “I know who you are too.” His eyes fix on mine. “I don’t think you do.” He brings a hand up to my face. “Tell me your


name.”


“I thought you knew.” “I do. Just tell me.” He watches my lips, waiting


for my pronouncement. “You say it.” I lean close to him. “You say my


name.” He pauses, staring. Then he speaks: “Cynthia.”


He takes a deep breath. “It’s Cynthia.” Rob’s dead wife. He’s thirty, a widower. He closes his eyes. The moment he said her


name, he knew it wasn’t true. I didn’t expect this. “Rob—” “Say it’s Cynthia. My name is Cynthia,” he begs.


“I’m not—” “Please.” He raises a hand to his temples. “Say it.


Just say—” “Rob, I can’t.” For a moment, there’s silence. Then he starts


sobbing. He’s sobbing, and I sit on the floor helplessly, feeling cruelty in my sinews. I put my arms around him, first one and then the other, and I hold him tightly. “I’m sorry, Rob. I’m sorry. It’s only me.” In my grasp, his body quakes. There’s a rhythm to his sorrow: we rock gently. For twenty minutes, he weeps. Then we sleep.


Me on the floor, Rob on the couch, my arms entangled with his torso, his tears streaked on his cheeks, a pain in the small of my back, dust in my nostrils, a chill underneath the door. At 6:30 in the morning, I try to rise. He shifts


when I remove my limbs. His eyes open and I can tell he knows it’s me. I sit down again, my back to the couch. Rob grasps his pillow. After several moments, he speaks.


“Have you ever seen someone die?” he whispers. I think about the death in my life. “No,” I have to


admit. “Pets. It’s not the same. I’ve seen dead animals.” Rob’s hand moves through my hair, pausing as


11


the base of my neck. “Cynthia died of a brain tumor.” He traces the shape of my skull. “The fucking brain.” The one, two, three, or nine train shakes my walls. “It took her three months,” he says. “Three months to die. That’s all.” He swallows. “She had a really bad headache one night, Sybil—that’s all.” He shakes his head. He can’t believe it either. “It wouldn’t go away. I took her to the emergency room and they did tests. Two days later, they told us it was inoperable. Just like that.” He snaps his fingers. “Can you imagine how quick and simple it was?”


I breathe deeply. “No. I can’t.” “They just told us. Inoperable. Live with that. Try


living with that.” Tears form in his eyes again. “Go home and die. You’re twenty-three, so maybe you guys should go see the Grand Canyon, rent some Classics, get in what you can.” Tears spill over and I reach up to pinch them between my fingers. Seeing a man cry rattles me, squeezes my insides. “What do you do now?” I ask. Rob stares up. “I do what I have to. Whatever it


takes to sustain my losses.” “Are you always only sustaining your losses?”


I touch his hair. “Is that what you were doing at Ramone’s? Sustaining your losses?” Rob blinks. “Yes.” The tears begin to dissipate.


“That’s what I’m always doing.” So then we sleep. When I get up for my bed,


there are no protestations. If there is vomit on him, it’s vomit on me. A rose is a rose is a rose. Vomit is vomit is vomit.


We sleep till eleven and, when we wake, I


drink a Bloody Mary and Rob has a pot of coffee. We don’t mention a thing. We take a walk along the Hudson, strolling, swinging our arms, wearing dark glasses. We’re like animals, after they’ve killed—not remembering the killing. We’re gentle, tentative. We move shyly and, when we bump against one another, we are kind and apologetic. We try and try to stop remembering, but we’re not really like that. Not really like animals forgetting.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54
Produced with Yudu - www.yudu.com