They were having their rails lubricated. Underneath they had discovered blockage, and it was all they could do to free themselves, like a kind of jellied meat.
"Exposure to the elements," the doctor said. "We have made arrangements for a salad to happen. It will be arriving tomorrow, express."
Could they wait any longer? They were busy posting notices on the walls of their apartment, to remind themselves of the truly important in life. But the problem was that nowhere they had ever lived bore the traces of their presence, like the world had been made without them and all they ever did was slip right off it eternally. Finally, he made a decision and stepped out the door, but he held back a hand, palm out, behind him at his wife. "My turn," he said. "You've just left me here," she said. "No, I haven't," he said. "I haven't gone anywhere. You can hear me, can't you!" His boots got stuck in the directions like multiple arrows feathered outward.
Their bed occupied a privileged position in their apartment, but to lie on it was to invite back pain or other serious injury. The discomfort, she felt, corresponded to specific internal organs. She didnąt want to tell him about it. She kept the names of her body secret from him. Lying next to one another, they were like separate shells spaced apart by breathing. When she thought really hard, she felt it reach him and caress his shoulder, but he never turned over. Well, one time he did, and his eyes -- blank with sleep -- met her, and it was a strange sort of communion. Sweet and intimate and in the dark hum of the ceiling fan.
She used another mode of speech when conversing with him, a language of strained harmonics. She could hear them in the flies on warm, humid days -- which is how she had learned them, as her father had instructed her -- but there were few of those. When he left to run an errand, she put her ear to the door, listening for the flowers she had forgotten in the planters left on the porch last winter. "Didn't you find anything?" she asked when he returned. "I've been waiting and waiting." He lifted a paper bag, but later when she asked him about it he couldn't remember where it went. "It had something to do with nature," was all he could tell her.
They had almost no friends. A couple invited them over and showed them things, the kinds of fixtures they had arranged. Nodding politely, they looked at each other and agreed silently. The couple began to feel uncomfortable at the same time. "Did you make it yourself?" she asked. He could at least help her, she thought, and then he did by opening his briefcase. "Why did you bring that?" the couple asked. "I have something here," he suggested. "A small token." They were all suddenly relieved. Then he was holding his hand out to her, without there having to be any music playing in the background. It was a grand performance, and the couple sent them home drunk with dessert.
The ceiling lowered on them as they lay in bed. Tomorrow leered at them. "Tonight you remembered something special," she whispered. "I had to," he whispered back. "I couldn't help myself." A cold draft inched the closet door open where they had piled the dirty things that clung to them. "Did you hear that?" she asked. "It'll be all right in the morning," he hoped. Their bodies navigated the blankets until they collided obtusely.