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And yet you’re still here.

Fiction | Flash Fiction
August 18, 2023

She said the problem is, you’re a dick. I crossed my arms and said, No. I’m not. I’m dick-free. She spit out her hanging tooth. Fine. You’re a fucking cunt. 

It was the next day in bed when I told the knots in her spine: yes, it’s true, I am. I am a nightmare that began the day you crept up to me on the rolling grass hill—dust and fleas turning the air gold, mud lurking like bitter broth on your calf—and I have no end. 

She put chrysanthemum in her tea. I fished out each bud with a ladle and threw it to the yard. My hammer throw, my violent arm. She asked me why I was so angry, like salt in a wound and our good land burning. 

I didn’t know the answer, so I walked to the local store to buy a hunting rifle. I shot the honey out of the birdfeeder, but couldn’t bring myself to kill the hummingbird. Instead, I held my hand up gently beneath it, until its wings came to rest and it drank sweetly and in stillness. She came through the sliding door to watch me. Every time I want to leave, she said. Every time I think it’s over. 

I rolled up my jeans. In the kitchen, red shelled peppers burned in oil. When her hands caught fire, I felt a phantom ache on my tongue. I turned to leather like a bog body on our porch until she set a plate by my feet. Rest now. Eat. I didn’t move. She said, I’m the shitstain greasing your boots, aren’t I? 

I don’t wear boots, I pointed out. And yet— 
And yet? 
And yet you’re still here. 

She said it’s because we both have long hair. Because mine is like a black hole that eats at the universe and she wants to drown in it. And if my hair is like a black hole my eyes are like the four horses of the apocalypse, darker even than vantablack. She bit my fingers and said: you are like choking on crude oil. I want us to build a house and adopt daughters and bloodhounds together. 

But I wasn’t listening. I was watching the horizon. How the sun painted the clouds pink and that colored the sea, too. She took my lighter out of her pocket and lit the end of a joint for me. Do you love me, at least? 

I said, Give it a few minutes.