She had the pink house in the gristle around her heart. I lived on the fourth floor where the ceiling trembled. The rent was high. The floors were warped. I slept in one room and ate in another. Most days I never moved—though in warmer weather I’d crawl behind her eyes and watch the men with mouths and fingers. I’d watch her watch the TV. Cartoons and QVC. She once ordered a cheese grater. She did not use it to grate cheese. Most nights when she got home she filled the bathtub. Underwater her heartbeat grew distended. Sometimes she soaked in money. More often I tried not to think at all. There were others living on my floor, though in the hall we avoided each other’s eyes. At night another tenant played a trumpet. Not a song but wounded skronk. You could hear it through her skin. I wonder what her mother thought. I was concerned about her future. I shaved my face on her smaller bones. Her blood bubbled at the windows. Insects skittered. Some knew language. Some knew my name. In the short term she had seasons. Rain of liquor, sweat or suds. Snow of dead cells. Pop of muscle. Hairdryer sun. Certain weekends I grew blisters. I combed the crud out of my hair. I continued to have faith in our future despite many nights awry. The doorbell buzzed for no reason. The carpet molded. The sockets sparked and squealed and leaked. I begged my requests into the air vents: (a) fix the deadbolt; (b) find the mailman; (c) install a finer light. The answers arrived in short marks on my forearms: (a) keep your teeth clean; (b) wake up sooner; (c) there is nothing here to see.

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