“How Many Times”
by E. Lorn
In twenty-one years how many times have you left your keys on the counter? On the same square of tile? By the corner of the microwave? Five steps from the door to the garage? Twenty steps from your car? One hundred feet from the curb? Nineteen miles from work? Galaxies away from us?
I smell you on the air. I hear you laugh. Not alone. I hear someone else laughing with you. I take another step. Quiet. Listening. Can’t tell if the other is male or female. Muffled voices like my ears are full of cotton.
The couch springs screech. Twenty years I’ve heard those springs squeak. They never sound like that year one. Only after parties with friends and visits from family members with heavy middles and kids bouncing and late nights when the walk to the bedroom is too far do the springs start to talk. The stories they would tell.
You laugh. The soft tinkle of your pleasure drifts down the hallway. How many times have I stood here and listened to your laugh? How many times have I heard the flirt in your voice that I hear now? How many times?
I’m convincing myself you wouldn’t do this when I hear you squeal and giggle. That squeal and giggle only comes when someone catches you off guard. How many times have I made you sound like that? How many times have I grabbed you around the middle and spun you around? How many times have you squealed and giggled and stared down at me with eyes on fire? Eyes filled with intensity. A ferocity that could scald the sun. How many times?
It’s hard to breathe. Hard to swallow. Impossible to move. I need to move. I need to storm down the hall and scream and rage and break everything that dares come within striking distance. I need that. A release. A lessening of pressure. My hands tremble at my sides. I’m about to explode. I need to move.
How many times have I pushed through this swinging door and into the living room? How many times has it been my wine glass on the table. How many times has it been my coat over the back of my recliner? How many times?
How many times have I made you squeal like you’re squealing now? No. This squeal is different. This squeal is more wanton. This is the squeal I haven’t heard in ages. Because you’ve reserved it for someone else. How many times have they heard it?
I shamble down the hall. Undead. I stop at our door. Whoever is in there with you grunts. They sound like an animal. You don’t seem to mind. How many times have I sounded like this? How many times have you asked for it? Harder? Deeper? How many times have you begged for more?
I reach for the knob.
How many times have I not been here?
Without the title, byline, and this post script, the story above is exactly 500 words. Thank you for reading.
See you tomorrow,
Pic of the Day