I apologize for my Friday column being published on a Sunday. This week, it will be a short story, rather than an essay. This is my first ever short story.
Her knuckles found home on the same line on the door. Her eyes hung low as she waited for her common sense to ebb. When that would happen, she would be assailed by the stench of pain and stale liquor reeking through the wood. True as death, it happened. Today, a stranger was present, too.
It was the rare weakness in Zach’s voice. She hadn’t expected it or seen it in years.
“Dora…” Zach intoned again. Dora walked in, moving as slow as her fear. The stubborn cloud of smoke bit at her eyes. Nothing had really changed except mounds of mess around the couch and her attempts at impressionist painting had disappeared off the grimy walls. But looking down, her high heel colliding into the slimy broth of a dark night’s drinking, she saw vomit outline Zach’s leg and foot.
“Oh my god, Zach,” Dora squeezed out with her shock, as she tried to get around his body to get to him, “not again, dammit.”
She leaned down at his head, as he rolled up his head and looked at her. Her face looked like wet black chalk against the cream ether, but he saw those eyes he once loved. “Yeaaah… again, dammmmmittttt.”
“This is not cleaning up and finding peace…”
“I know… I f-f-ef-fucked up again.”
The crispness of the curse made her recoil, as she looked behind her to sink into a dry spot by her favorite chair behind her. That spot knew her droop from before she left this place called home for 3 years.
“Dorraaa… I love you… I-I-I-reallllyyy lovvvve you.”
“No, you don’t, Zach,” she shot back, with hot tears burning, “This is not love, what you’re doing to yourself. Look at this place. You’ve sucked the life out of it!”
“D… I do love you,” he said with crust around his lips, picking himself up, to sit in the locus of his life, “love is water, it’s all over you.”
It’s all over you? Says the pontificating drunk!
“Don’t be a dick, you’re a mess right now.” She pulled out her mirror from her purse and lunged it into his face.
“Look! Is this love! How is this love! My man of three years is this!”
“Love is water, baby, it’s waaater,” Zach repeated as he tried to make out the fuzzy outlines of his sunken face, “When you go swimming and you jump in, the water is all over you, it covers every part of you, and it’s there while you’re in there, riiiiight?”
The coherence and pithy of the words struck her. She pulled back her arm. She felt a tap against a door of her heart.
“When you-you-you’re done, and you, uh, uhm, get out, the water falls off you, it leaves you, it leeeeaves you, it faaalls you, riight? You get out and you get a drink, I need a drink, you say I say to myself, and then you sit in the sun, until the whatever’s left on you is absorbed. Love is absorbed, until whatever’s left on you is absorbed.”
The tap grew into a mad banging, along with floods of rain against the windows, as she looked at him.
“I can’t do this again, Zach,” Dora said.
“Love is water… love is water,” Zach chants in a whisper, as he turns around and lays back so that his head is near her legs, as he looks up to stare at his morning sun.