by Ben Ohmart
Mra was walking away from a fight when a small blue robin flew swiftly up her nose. The other woman was still screaming at her, slinging a dead hedgehog in her direction to the unimpressed crowd. No one could hear Mra's shaking screams, screams that nearly shook the deserted cars into the dust they were close to becoming. The neighborhood was dense, old, but severely phone tagged, so she made it, bleeding into an extra bra she'd always carry in case of idiotic things, to call herself a hearse for the living.
She was unconscious through most of the ride, but knew a Jewish hospital when she awoke to the candle wallpaper of one. Her arms were strapped down for doctor comfort, but the remote control to the above tv, like an I.V., was securely tied in her palm.
"Mind if I come in to lick myself?" a voice at the doorway whispered, and the silence after it seemed loud. He entered, before Mra had time to think on herself, the situation, before she could realize that a definite gloom had entered with the man. The man that stood there before her, looking deep into the roots of her hair, as he began at the second crease of the wrist and slowly but deliberately made his way to the full elbow, treating it elegantly like the nipple he must've thought it was.
She struggled to break physically free of the insinuation that she couldn't ever pin down; but still, subconsciously, she never screamed, and perhaps that was the real reason for her fascination. Perhaps it was backwards, all this, but she knew she couldn't break the bond that dealt singularly with the sopped up arm. They never made eye contact, not when the man said, "It's me that tied you up, wasn't sure.." and he lifted his to mean his individual practice, not even when she asked how long she'd be here ("Just two days, you fainted") or followed it up by asking the man out. He only looked at her, then his watch and he was sad. "I don't have anything else to do today," he said. "I love you."
The first night at Steak and Onion Dip she was only held by a strange attraction, but it was no longer on the arm, because the man was always shifting his focus, loving his surroundings or closer in awe that never including two of the same place. But the energy, the dogma need was there, and could never be pushed away by either, so that the nights along Atlantic City slums and cruises up the Flint River in southern Georgia were filled with a tightness, a narrowness of obsession that Mra felt constantly upon her body and wan dresses. Dresses that for one of those wondrous weeks, the man praised and humped over half because she wanted it, but also because he knew the delight she'd take in something would be something different. Ultimately, something worth caring passionately for.
"How long have you been that orderly?" Mra asked every other week or so.
"That orderly?" he said, and they would laugh and bang on drum sets in music stores until he without fail would change the subject to "What do you do for a living, about?"
"I'm a amateur hedgehog thrower,"she would always end up explaining. "They toss it, and I have to beat the other woman off it, throw it in the nearest trashcan." Then the orderly would kiss her and the threat of communication would end up starting all over again, as if it never happened.
For five weeks they lived separately together, but the combined incomes made them a real couple. He would pay the electric bills, and she could decide what they needed and perhaps buy it if they loved it together enough, or would love food together with a delight that only comes from licking eggrolls or such. So it wasn't the love. No, definitely not the love that came in quick-start fucks that always ended in one of them finishing on the arm of the couch, because she knew sometimes that his full attention would be on the weekly obsession, and if it would entice her into holding back her orgasm when she'd think of him picturing a cedar chest or whatever, or if he could not get off because the narrowness of going in between her legs was throwing his mind's aim off from the bigger picture, the worshipfulness that comes from things that don't love back, well then, they had a normal love.
It was only too bad that Mra would always get the hiccups. One fuck eternally equaled one batch of the hics and she could never shake them no matter how many glasses of water her man would end up (sometimes ending the session) giving her. They tried it in the shower more than several times so she'd have an endless supply to drink from as he would try out her various holes, but still she shook with the convulsions of unpassion. After the sixth week of fuck, they let the now "family" doc in on the sex plan, but all he could contribute was the fact that Mra would soon, early the next year probably, expect a baby to come between them. He put it nicely, but there was a coldness that life made from the two then contributed, and besides, the woman frankly didn't like the fact of having her stomach rented out for that long.
But the months passed with fewer fucks since they figured the life neither thought much of would be harmed by a ceaseless hic, and it began to show that the only love between them began to be the weekly lusts for inanimate objects, or people wearing hair or not, or whatever, that came from the man. Mra, fatter and fatter, felt she was contributing nothing and thought she'd solely gain sympathy when howling from the morning problems. Of course, the orderly knew on a particular scream that the "way of her" was something to be taken more seriously. He'd fallen in love with her primal screams once, luckily when she was still thin enough to plant himself on top of her in the bathtub, and so he then knew from studying his lost love (he was on oven mitts then) that the screams were more real than the life mother knew could know herself.
The man rushed his love to the hospital. Up on the table, swelling even more than she thought possible, she broke the man's hand good and loud. He didn't notice. It was the first time he'd been inside his womb of a hospital in the months since they'd gone away together. He was looking around at the white of the walls and the horny glitter of the waiting instruments, and Mra passed a stream of water that looked like it would go for fathoms. Her stomach swelled down and professional looked to professional; there was no child. The woman stooped up on the table, to catch her breath, to understand herself and a life she couldn't know.
She never noticed the orderly leaving the room, thinking less on the broken hand he was quickly falling for, but more on the fact that he was feeling like he had something to do, something to do today, and wouldn't need to love, he didn't think. She never noticed because the little bird flew out of Mra's nose, and she felt fine. First in a while. She asked for some water.