Friday, December 12, 2008

A Woman Leaving a Room

He sat straight up in his chair. She stood above him. Her neck was red, but her face was white as ash. Attached to his long left pant leg he had a small, unsharpened knife. It had a red handle.

They were inside of a room. The room had white walls, and the bright light on the ceiling gave it an exaggeratedly harsh look. This look was the reason she had once wanted to move into the room, but now it only antagonized her. She hated the way she looked in it, and she was constantly rubbing parts of herself as if to protect them from the light. He had never cared about the light, but now he was upset with the way it made her look. It was like a refutation of his taste, a blow to his connoisseurship, etc.

She had been standing above him for several minutes, her neck growing redder with each passing moment, her face more blanched. He could hardly look at her now. She was menacing and awful. He folded his left leg over his right and began stroking his calf. He wanted to laugh, but he knew what would happen. So he stared at her or at the harsh white walls, or he would just let his eyes roll desultorily about. At last, finally, the woman coughed into her thin, ringed hand. He looked immediately up at her and began:

“I know. I know. But I always said. I mean, I have.” He stopped there. His eyes fled back toward the walls. He continued rubbing his calf.

Her voice began, choked, almost coughing, “What?”

“Well I did,” he said. “I absolutely did.” He still wasn’t looking at her. He just looked hard at the wall and rubbed his calf.

“Perfect. Perfect. Of course.” She coughed each of these words at him, and she never withdrew her gaze.

“I don’t know. I don’t. You know. I can say something. I have.” He laughed at this. “I have.”

At this her body heaved forward, but it snapped back almost immediately. She caught herself. Then her face split. Strange rubicund thorns blossomed all over her blanched face. A sort of scream seemed to be swallowed. She turned away from the man and walked stiffly towards the door. “I’ll just go then,” she whispered.

He looked at her again. He was smiling, but not laughing. Nodding his head, he said, “Sure.”

She walked out of the apartment.

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