#26

The man at my desk begins with a letter, reveling in something which may not end. Our typewriter sits in the corner, collecting dust, while I sit in another – trembling, grinning as he twirls. Jagged expression fills the spaces between us. Bemusement sculpts my thoughts as I watch a slitted vein coalesce between his eyes.

The letter opener he grips is shivering, as he tears open the note. I repress my urge to fabricate, to look over his shoulder. To do so is to grip his fingers strangely while he reads aloud his words without sound.

The man at the desk will later lay claim to that frail claim, that author’s frail claim, of knowing but one of the both of us. And so I panic when I fail to recognize that author’s name, but I hide it well. So must the man at my desk, no longer at our desk, who goes about his business in spite of what fills the room.

One of us follows the other into the breakfast nook, where a plate from the night before rests beneath a half-eaten loaf of bread. The sour, dry sensation filling my mouth is the unwelcome rendering of something that I’ve already forgotten, as I stop the man from picking up his knife. He insists that it’s for the butter, but its serrated edge tells me otherwise.

Relinquishing beneath the pressure of my glare, we gaze out the window together. He begins to insist that our gardener is stealing our peaches but I pretend not to believe him, with that passive hostility I’m known to express. Eyes widening, he jabs my finger furiously upon the glass pane, smudging it on one side as something jabs back from the other. But it’s not a gardener, I’m prone to point out, as I open the door.

These three misfits. The chants resonate through the empty strip mall as we traverse it later that afternoon. My skin burns as one of them ruptures the scabs beneath my cardigan, with a grip that once again tiptoes towards violence. His wild mutterings peel off as he drifts towards a nearby department store mannequin, cast aside beneath a dead palm tree. I watch with a distasteful flavor of glee as its head tears from its socket, as if I had a violent fetish for pale faceless features on porcelain skin.

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