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May 6, 2015 | Fiction

After We Lose Her

Reem Abu-Baker

After We Lose Her photo

Michele Lee woos my husband through the screen and also through the decades. A first crush, he says, never expires. He will not accept the DVD collection of Love Bugs I try to buy for him. He watches the car split down the middle in scratching VHS. Michele Lee has hair like a hideous politician’s, but my husband does not like to hear this.

I wear a plastic red helmet to bed, and we fuck from behind. This is the only way we fuck now, since we lost her. The helmet is comforting and I leave it on, let it hold my head like my head is a baby, like the helmet is a sling.

We do not own a Volkswagen, but we fuck in the Ford Explorer. After, we slouch in the backseat, shaking like teenagers while we smoke our cigarettes. My husband runs his hands over the helmet like another man would run his fingers through a woman’s hair. Michele Lee’s hair, of course, is not the kind you run fingers through.

When I close my eyes, I cannot feel his hands—just the hugging helmet, the scratch of tobacco in my throat, the smoke where I am otherwise hollow, the itch of the Explorer’s cheap seats on my skin, and the sense of movement, the world sliding sideways down a winding road.

My hair, beneath the plastic, is still and safe.

 

image: Aaron Burch


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