Screen

 This is a very short story I wrote last week. I didn’t intend for it to be so creepy but sometimes that just happens.

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Screen

We fell in love when I was nineteen / And now we’re staring at a screen 

-Arcade Fire, Reflektor

 They say that the world was built for two / Only worth living if somebody is loving you

-Lana Del Rey, Video Games

I open the door with a clink of keys and he’s hunched in front of the TV, broad shoulders caving over the controller. All the lights are off. It smells musty in our apartment and I think the Mexican family next door is cooking tamales.

“Hey,” he says. Something explodes on screen in perfect time with his greeting.

I wait for his blue eyes to flick towards me – they don’t. He doesn’t see the bright red Rorschach splotch across my white t-shirt or hear the squeak of the blood that is pooling in the bottoms of my sneakers as I limp behind him to the kitchen.

The sink is full of drying dishes and I think back to his studio apartment when we were dating and how there were never any dirty dishes left lying around. It’s a habit I appreciate. His silver wedding band is still in the cupcake-shaped dish by the soap bottle.

“My husband does all the dishes and laundry without me asking,” I’d told my coworker, Renee, that morning. She was impressed like I had wanted her to be. Now I am not sure if I can make words come out of my mouth if I try and there are bloody footprints across the yellowed linoleum floor. Though it feels like giving up, I sink to the floor and sit against a cabinet.

It might be my imagination, but I swear I can feel a tiny dot of metallic coldness deep in my gut. Blood gushing around it hot and quick. It is a tiny stone in a swirling, steaming river. Is the kitchen full of fog? My eyelids are so heavy but they won’t close because of the adrenaline, still buzzing like a dying light bulb in my veins.

“I was shot,” I say in my mind, but it can’t be real and the words won’t come. The sloppy, scowling man on Madison Street was just a character from a TV show. The swift motion of his hand to his pocket was just a slice of action before a commercial break. Bullets whizz with a tinny “ping-ping” on my husband’s video game and despite myself, I smile. He is winning his war. Why bother him? I close my eyes and stop thinking about why he doesn’t look at me anymore.

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