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by lapsus linguae 

i. One

He cares, she knows. He doesn’t say anything nice because he doesn’t have to; poignancy and tenderness expressed entirely in apologies and sarcasm.

A question is in her voice when she says his (last) name, uncertainties among limited knowledge of each other that will always falter, onward or downward.

They radiate light (the spaces between) and anger (the words between). They have been lost to each other for so long. (Forever.) They are nothing; they are dust.

ii. Two

“Cameron.”

She sighs. It’s him; the doorway surrounds him as a barrier. Their story is old; it’s a long, heavy epic whose characters are forgettable but only for their names and fears.

She walks over to him because it’s different.

He stares at her (not) blankly, words on the tip of his tongue like books on a shelf. Each lacks the proper motivation.

“We do this,” she whispers. The lines of his mouth, she notices, are heading straight for the ground. “Let’s not,” and she walks away.

Pretend there is no doorway and no him; she spends half of her life talking (herself out of things). Words add (husband), subtract (husband), divide (and conquer, but lose everything in the process); words build and destroy; a society that is constantly killing itself.

iii. Three

No return address.

Using a knife that she’d left on a cutting board two days ago, she cut through the packing tape on the box. The knife still smells like onions and she should get a wife to do all the things she can’t be bothered with. Throwing the knife into the sink, not caring that it falls short and lands on the floor, she reaches into box.

It’s a stuffed animal. A unicorn. (A note taped to its horn: Love is a myth. - House) She throws it in the bottom of her closet next to the Christmas present he’d bought her months before (a pair of white panties, a caduceus adorning the hip).

The next day she corners him in his office to thank him. He’s panicked before any words leave her mouth.

“Thanks for the present,” she says. He remains quiet. It was expected. “You know my birthday?”

He looks to the left as if desperately searching for a window on which to focus his gaze. The absence of a window turns his attention back to her.

“I do,” he replies.

And, sometimes, they stare at each other, a culminating moment of hopelessness propagated by two lonely people and the circles in which they refuse to stop traveling. Maybe she can, for him, keep doing what they’ve done, this. He’s rough with anything that hasn’t been classified as a stranger, she supposes. She wishes to be a stranger and that he were well adjusted.

iv. Break

His sofa is leather quicksand; she’s sinking underneath his added weight. It feels vaguely familiar.

He slides a hand into her hair, fingers skimming along her scalp; they settle on the top of her head, the muscles and ligaments and joints and bones, as a crown (a touchstone).

“What’s wrong with us?” he asks.

Her hands on his belt buckle, how to make this better?

“What’s right?” she responds, as she presses her thumb into the depression above his hip.

She needs to define her edges, draw a line, split the atom, him and her, lose awkwardness that hangs, dragging everything down with it, to its knees, to the floor, to nowhere: everywhere.

His fingers slide to the base of her skull (as he speaks).

“Stop trying so hard to love me.”

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