6.02 / February 2011


She says, “When I kiss you I can feel how much your teeth ache.”

I kiss her again and she tells me that’s more like it.

We sleep in.  All day we lay in bed like lumps, like lonesome cats and dogs.  Pillows become our neighbors.  When she asks me if I’m hungry, we kiss again.

She only has seven toes.  I knew this when I first met her.  She was helping out with lawn-mowing as a little girl.  I say, “But seven is a lucky number,” and she takes my chin and wags it in her palm.  “You,” she says, using her nickname for me.  “Oh, You.”

The last time she tried it, the doctor said it was a cry for attention.  “It’s hard to drown yourself in the bathtub,” he said.  Which made sense.  Which was true.

But this time she let the bath overflow and used a blade.  Two blunt swipes across the wrist.  She needs stitches, but for now the gauze and ice will have to do.  She’s not ready for the hospital, and, to tell the truth, neither am I.

I have a book light that I blink off and on beneath the sheets.  “This reminds me of summer camp,” she says.  “I was happy before then.”

I let her tell me the story.  I don’t say a word.  His name was Ben, a redhead with angry acne.  He said she was dirty.  There was an owl in the tree above them when he did it.  Since then, she sees that owl once a day, if not more.  The bird stares at her, mocks and accuses.

I hold her hand and put my lips on her fingers.  Her pulse throbs through a wide green vein.  She says, “You know, it might not ever go away,” and I tell her, that’s okay, just don’t leave me.

She says, “I don’t get you.”

I say I don’t either.

She kisses me again, soft like Cool Whip, calls me, “You,” and adds “I love.”

Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with his wife, son, an eagle and three pesky beavers. His work appears widely in print and online at such places as Juked, Elimae, Dogzplot and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.
6.02 / February 2011