The Sound from Two Stories Below
Dennis DiClaudio

We both knew what we would find. Outside the window. In the street. That's why we didn't look. Why you poured yourself more wine, dropped a quivering red bead onto the beige carpet while carrying the mug to your lips. Why I sat on our cracked wooden stool and watched candle wax drip into a saucer on the bookshelf.
With your feet propped up on the table and your toes splayed out from the edge, you knew that on any other night I would have thrown you to the floor and pulled the shirt up and over your head. Taken advantage. Of the darkness and the quiet. But not that night. Not with that sound. When the electricity went out, and the record player ground itself into a growling warble, the sound came in and there was no touching. No talking. We watched the shadows on the wall and tried not to understand the scuttle pigeoning in through the curtains.
You picked at some loose skin on your thumb. And I thought about our time in Rome. How you had laid naked on an uncomfortable hostel mattress and asked me to watch as you fingered yourself. But my thoughts kept drifting back to the window and the sound, growing louder and more feral.
Were you drawn to the window as well? Were you drunk on morbid concern? Had you noticed ever that our tiny porcelain Santa was chipped across the head? Did you have any idea it could shatter into so many pieces with just one swift toss from across the room?