Two Fictions
John Erhardt

All My Friends Are Your Friends But I Just Want You

There are two ways to hold hands: with evenly interlocked fingers, and by mashing your palms together while hoping for the best. I'm reaching for your hand behind my back as we walk, but you're always digging for something in your pocket, in your hair, fishing something uncivil that crash landed between your toes.
The only lesson my parents taught me was how to wait. They'd sit me in a porch chair facing the sugar maple. They'd come get me when I needed a haircut and then they'd sneak back off to their real house. When I left for school my father handed me a bar of sandalwood soap and three damp twenties, telling me that girls couldn't love men who would one day have cancer, but to let him know how it goes -- I was always welcome to write. Later, my one friend in college would declare his desire to fuck a girl, maybe this one, definitely that one. He got a girl to kiss me just by asking. I never wanted to fuck anyone, held on to my virginity like a small, damaged bird. I wanted to trace words on her back with my fingertip, have her sleep with one arm draped across my chest, smelling faintly of exercise. I wanted to walk in on her sleeping and exit the room without waking her up. I wanted to go down on her until her toes curled.
It turned out this was much harder. But if you wait long enough someone will become so devoted that they'll live right up close next to you, flick your skin off the furniture as you flake apart. I've been practicing, so if you need something flicked, just say so. I can reach you from here.

Night Out

I can't wait to have leukemia, I hear you get so thin even the cool kids will wave goodbye, will want to reach their hands up your translucent skirt and fiddle your blurry button. A man steps out of the dark and makes sure he has a rubber in his pocket. Another man turns towards the dark and holds out his hand. Even the dark shoves his hands in his pockets, defensive but wanting to be used up, his last thread given a good clean yank. A girl under a streetlight, no time to put her pantyhose back on. Most of her shivers come from me and I'm not even trying anymore. At dawn I'll have dreamed myself all the way back and I'll go to Cuvée alone if I have to. Here comes my thirtieth birthday but until then, who doesn't want to be touched? I love family so much I gobble it up. Just add raspberry vodka, just add a body, just add underwear tugged off to one side. Most people don't know what they want: I want to be introduced.