March 14, 2012 by The Citron Review
by Dana Masden
If you ever lose him, say at a party, as faces of people open to him like so many women undressing, you can always find him, if you just listen. He’s got a laugh. It reminds me of god cracking the earth open and it is in cartoon-lines but not unreal. Somebody will say to you: he has a great laugh, and it will be a trite observation. It is more than great. It is the realest sound I’ve ever heard.
You walk toward the sound, find him talking to a beautiful woman. She has skin like a smooth plane of silk and green eyes that are unfair and I think this is not an even playing field because our skin is a bit blotchy. Our skin gets that way from the finest alcohol, even: microbrews, glasses of wine that cost more than six dollars, good Irish whiskey, but it is nice and calm with PBR. He says we are allergic to fine things. But we have been drinking on and on forever: good, bad, it doesn’t matter: Me, You and now Him.
We stand freakishly between the line, balancing on our toes. One accidental move to the left, we go over into the world of missing jobs and rehabilitation centers. We go softly to the right and we are running marathons, writing books, the best entangled lovers and bearers of some excellent food and if you ask him he can build bikes and trellises and he speaks in codes that make walls go into the sky. If he leans right. Sometimes, when I’m not looking, you, my freak head, you push me to the left. And then he is making love to me but stops, confused and hurt to realize that I am crying: not-the-good-kind.
Now he is leaning closer to her. He whispers her something and she smiles. It is as if she’s become older, a pretty wrinkle webs her eye; this eye that moves on me. I keep everything I know about myself to my heart: I am good, I make things, I care intensely, and as long as I keep this as my breath I am not jealous of her. The three of us laugh together. Cheers. He takes me to the backroom where he shows me his belt buckle. It says “Heavy Machinery Operator.” I think this is funny/charming, but you think it is meant to mean that I am fat. Then, because I can’t help it, but not because I mean it, I tell him he’s boring. I say he is also a prick. I say there is nothing worse than somebody who is both boring and a prick. He is quiet. The next thing he says is: let’s go back outside.
With enough wine, you leave me to wander around. The party, say, this particular party, say, is at an art exhibit and full of people without freak heads. We see stuffed foxes, me and him. There is something very nice about standing and looking with someone you love. He says a fox is lucky. I say I am lucky because I am with him, but he looks at me tired. Wanting. He wants to say yes, he wants to say he loves me and he starts to get to this place of self-expression, drunk even so, against the beat of the hippie music, and I’m so sure that I will receive something wonderful from him, like a baby chick cupped in his strong hands, but then you’re after us again, I can see you, head, skin blotchy, hands slimy, heart withering in its forever-seizure and before I can shake you off of me, I notice that he has left us. He slams the door and breaks the hippie music in half and fifty eyes on twenty five heads turn towards us.
It is the morning. You are nowhere to be found, but your feeling lingers in our headaches and the way him and I look at each other now is cast in an ugly, clear light; in a gray morning that is cold and cloudy. I followed him home. I banged on the door. He was reluctant. I saw in his eyes he was seeing me as a warm canal to slide his penis, instead of what he has seen the day before—a girl who might like a baby chick, a girl to stand and look with. Now, he gets up to wash his face, comes back and smiles a little bit sad at first, and then as if he is remembering something terrible, he looks at me like I am you and not at all like I am me.
Dana Masden lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she teaches at Colorado State University. Her work is previously published or forthcoming in Arch, The Missing Slate, and Denver Syntax, among others. She is currently working on a novel.