Flash fiction by Michael Botur
Wifey wanders into the lounge, yawning, to split the curtains. The light shows a human’s on the couch. She shrieks. It’s only Stephie. She’s between places.
I tell Stephie she doesn’t have to wash her hair in the sink. Doesn’t have to scrub her sandpaper pits with moist towelettes.
Stephie curls up inside her dog, draped like a fox-fur. Snoozes through to noon. Watches TV til two.
Stephie comes from down south. Grew up with shotguns and quaddies and gummies and her arm buried in the backsides of Jersey cows. Stephie eats cigarettes and nibbled fingertips. Peels the label off her beer. Thousand yard stare.
Preceded by an eight cylinder Holden growl, some mulleted man with tank top and black tribal tats rocks up to sweep her up, cept Stephie’s got an ankle bracelet on. Curbed, curfew. She leads him to the laundry room with arms of chips and beer and locks the door.
She gushes, my wife, bout how Stephie’s the lowest cheating skank. But she’ll be gone soon, I insist. Watch her run through life with laces untied, trip and stumble.
Stephie’s in-between places. Recovering from recovery. The fidgeting, the puckered mouth, the bitterness at WINZ. She got offered this job, midnight massage, and could really use the dosh. Shirtless, let her practice her caress. Shoulders sense her breath. Fingers in ridges and valleys. Nails inside me.
Can’t say I haven’t stared like a dog, hungry, when she comes out of the bathroom steamed, her middle swathed in a towel, and winks at me.
Stephie’s off up north this month. Leaves bills and blister packs of pills in the cracks of the couch. She’s left her mutt. I take it for a trot. It eyes me up, pleading, needing chow.
It wasn’t really a thing, she tells me in texted powwow. You seemed sad that day. All I did’s caress some serotonin from your brain. Two adults, a couch, a touch.
Think of it as meds.
Go back to your wife and kids.