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June 8, 2015 | Fiction

Night Swim

Dan Reiter

Night Swim photo

Memories are like Asian pears. Store them cold and they will keep.

She climbed shivering out of the river. The Taigan smeared its nose on her shin. Soily fish. Down on the rug, massaging its neck, she wondered, "Are my eyes blurred from overuse?"

When you touch the truth, you want to cling to it. Dig it with fingernails. Keep it in terror and elegance. Afterwards it is impossible to talk to the same people, because they are not the same anymore.

Should she get up? Take a ramble down Third Avenue? Old Eddie might roll her a cigarette. Go on about the railroad tracks near Santa Cruz. Smile with his four teeth. Stench of rot mouth.

Never mind. Her legs were fused together. Or she was melting into the bed. Couldn't sleep. Never could sleep. Wanted to shoot off one last burst before blue seeped in through the window cracks.

What instinct is this? To cleave through flesh, to hew muscle, to grip cold bone, gouge out nerves, squeeze life from his arm, to stop him forever from slurping his cereal at the breakfast table?

To empty him, not to purge him, but to empty him––of strength, of manhood––to see him one last time curled dead on the pillow. To love with balled-up fist. To wring clear to marrow.

Why does the Taigan love the rankness? Even as she rubs its muscles, why does it love the river more than it loves her?

Wrap the fruit in paper to keep the skin firm. Never to be confused with the apple. And certainly not the pear.

 

image: Aaron Burch


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