by Scott Cole
“Put a damn shirt on,” she says. It’s about all she’s said to me for the last twelve hours.
“Shut up,” I say in response, too quiet for her to actually hear. I head into the kitchen and find myself staring blankly into the fridge several moments later, hungry for something that doesn’t seem to be there.
I shut the door and stand in the middle of the room, not quite sure what I want to do next. My head is fuzzy, and I’m deeply, fundamentally tired. I check the fridge again, but still nothing looks good.
She comes in from the den, with a plate full of bones in one hand, bobbing in time with her steps and the smoldering cigarette dangling from her lips. There’s a crash as she drops the plate into the sink, and the remains of whatever she just ate scatter themselves randomly around the basin. I look up, realizing I’ve been staring at the mousetrap in the corner of the room for a while, and flash her a look.
“What the hell is wrong with you today?” she asks.
I don’t respond at all this time. She looks me up and down, and squints as she takes a pull from her smoke, then pops her lips open, and shakes her head disapprovingly before exhaling.
“Put a fucking shirt on already. It’s disgusting,” she says, before choking on the cloud hovering around her head.
And suddenly she’s disappeared from the room, and I’m left standing there, wondering what she meant. Sure, I’ve put on a few pounds in the last month or two—but “disgusting”?
And then it hits me, quite literally. Her hand, then her wrist, then her arm up to the elbow, slide out of my chest, slicked wet with what I can only assume is my blood.
“You see? This is what I’m talking about!” she yells, right into my ear. “Now will you please put a goddamn shirt on?”
I look down at myself, completely bewildered—though I feel no pain—staring at the massive wound I’ve been carrying around for who knows how long. Standing behind me, she thrusts her arm in and out of it in a vaguely sensual manner, and I’m more than a little grossed out, not to mention physically shaken.
She extracts her arm, and circles around me, then flicks her cigarette into the sink and spits on the wall. She wipes my blood on her pants as she exits the room.
And I find myself standing there again, just staring, thinking, dazed. I hear her coughing again from the other room.
And it occurs to me that she’s right. This is disgusting. I should show a little consideration. I head to the other room, to find a shirt.