The Sound of Silence by Melissa Goode

Sleep only comes for me now in intervals, in dreams. Tonight, you are as thin as when we met and you are wet. You shine. I hug you—skin and bone. You are cold and smell chemical, institutional. I don’t ask how you got to be so wet.

I say, “Do you know how much I love you?”

You drop your head and smile and all I want is for you to say “yes.”

* * *

You used to call me my darling. It hit every time—hard and fast—an explosion in miniature. And I said it back to you, because we all want to own someone.

* * *

You are nowhere and everywhere.

You are the man in a bank commercial, kicking a football on a luminous green lawn with your kids. A boy and a girl, they make you laugh. You are our lab who treads softly through every room of our house looking for you. Today, I see you lying on our couch, your head on one armrest and over the other your feet hang. You sing parts of your favorite song—you pick it up and put it down again.

* * *

Hello darkness, my old friend.

* * *

In the shower, I tell myself to feel the water fall on my skin, to feel the wet, the heat. You draw me against you. Your hands sear. They start and stop. Start and stop. Your mouth opens wide and your teeth close around my shoulder. I want you to bite hard. You don’t. You don’t leave a mark.

* * *

I close my eyes—your feet are bare beside our bed and they disappear as you kneel on the floor before me.

* * *

At the cafe, you sit beside me. Your leg shakes up and down and your boot beats the floor. I reach under the table and squeeze your thigh, it’s okay it’s okay. The shaking and beating stop. I wish they would start again.

I eat the salted caramel macaroon, my favorite, and yours remains on the plate, strawberry.

* * *

You sip your coffee and hold the cup over to me.

“Do you reckon this is soy? I can’t tell.”

I smile at your voice, your low, beautiful, unbearable voice. You tip the cup towards my mouth, as if I am a child.

I take a tiny sip from the place where you did. “Yeah. It’s soy.”

You sip and say, “I can taste it now.”

“How are you?” I say, but you just shake your head.

What? What? Tell me.

* * *

“The cats were out again last night,” I say. “Screaming and hissing. I can’t handle it.”

I don’t ask—did you hear them too? I don’t want you to tell me that you didn’t hear anything, that you weren’t there.

I say, “We were never ever going to sleep in separate beds. Do you remember?”

* * *

The waiter plants the check on the table and says, “Is there someone I can call for you, ma’am?”

The couple at the neighboring table stare at me as do the other patrons. They stare and then turn away.

“No. God. I’m fine,” I say. “Can’t a woman have her coffee in peace?”

I wrap the strawberry macaroon in a paper napkin and place it in my bag with the others.

* * *

I sit in our car and I cannot turn the ignition to drive home again. I rest my head against the steering wheel and close my eyes—your feet are bare beside our bed and they disappear as you kneel on the floor before me and take hold of my hip. You keep me standing. I say, more my darling more come on come on come—

 

Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Split Lip Magazine, Forge Literary Magazine, FRiGG, 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 at www.melissagoode.com and on Twitter @melgoodewriter.

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