At the pharmacy, I buy small things—a toothbrush, floss. I cannot decide on a lip-gloss and the sales assistant helps me. I am that person now, needing help to choose lip-gloss at ten p.m. She selects one and says, “Sky Pink. This color is pretty. I like it.” I buy it. In the car, under the yellow interior light, I swipe the lip-gloss across my top lip, bottom lip and around again, as if I am going out, as if I am meeting someone and he will notice my mouth and want it all the more. I drive home too fast. You could be here—your hand squeezing my thigh meaning slow down. I do. On the radio a man sings showyourlove over and over and I make it loud so that he throbs in the steering wheel, in my teeth. The streets are empty. Dinner is toast with butter and honey and the kitchen smells of morning. I eat over the sink. Our cat, Mary, twines around my legs. She mewls and mewls and I say, “I know. I know.” She mewls some more and I say, “Jesus Christ. Stop.” My doctor no longer prescribes me barbiturates. The herbal supplement slides across my tongue and down my throat, promising five hours of fucked sleep. It tastes of potpourri and midnight and relief and dread. My hand shakes around the glass, slopping water on the counter. Maybe I have MS and there will be no one to drive me to my medical appointments and I am losing my mind. I clean my teeth for a full two minutes. I will smile more. I will open my mouth and show my teeth and my lips will shine pink. The whole sky will be in my mouth. I change from my work suit and tights into the slip I bought for our honeymoon in Hawaii. It is black silk and short—an expired guarantee. Sometimes it stayed, pushed up and pulled down, and other times it didn’t—“Arms up,” you said. Our bed is artificially warm, from the electric blanket I bought to stop my feet seeking yours. I try reading. I cannot stop reading romance novels and every single woman swallows and condoms are gone by the third date because everyone is clean and she is on the pill and please and now and take all of it and I don’t know if I can. I turn off the light and I do not hug your pillow and pretend it is you. I don’t know what to do now with my hands. Lying on my stomach, I trap my hands under my body, inside my body. You say into my hair, “It’s all right, precious. You’ll be okay. You will.” Some nights I sink through the bed, slow, as if through water. Not tonight. I press my face into the pillow and I am the only person who knows I am alive. Rolling over, through the window above our bed, the clouds race and charge, white and back-lit—I tell myself you are not the moon.
Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Split Lip Magazine, Forge Literary Magazine, and matchbook, among others. Her story “It Falls” (Jellyfish Review) was chosen by Aimee Bender for Best Small Fictions 2018 (Braddock Avenue Books). She lives in Australia. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.