Three Fictions
Elizabeth Ellen

let me tell you a little something about self-loathing

i am not well.
something feels off kilter. the liquid in my ears, maybe. or something else entirely.
walking down the hallway toward you i stumble twice. i have to steady myself on the wall. i have to stop and think before retying my shoe.
when you feel you would be willing to drink the bath water of the person seated across from you, that's when you know you are screwed.
'i think i am no longer capable of falling in love,' you say and i laugh as though this is the funniest thing you have ever told me.

ground rules

let's set some ground rules, he says. as though we are kids on a playground. as though i am capable of not breaking any rule he sets before me. as though he just met me yesterday and hasn't yet figured this out.
rule number one, he says: you can't write about this.
right, i say. of course. i won't.

how you know things are not all right

the new puppy pisses on the floor and you make no move to clean it. you sit on the tile six inches away and stare blankly as he runs back and forth through his own mess. the old you would have had seven kinds of bleach out by now. the old you would be on her hands and knees scrubbing until every trace of uncleanliness was removed from the ground. the old you gave a shit. your hands are already growing softer. the cracks at the sides of your fingers are almost healed. you no longer have to wrap them in bandages at night.
'why are your hands so rough?' you remember him asking. this was the night he had to hold you by the wrists to avoid coming into contact with other parts of you.