Two Fictions
Kevin Sampsell

You and They

One of the first things you do is figure out ways to shorten their name. As if you're trying to make your utterance of their name sound original in your own voice. Jacoline becomes Jackie becomes Jack becomes J. Dennis becomes Denny becomes Den becomes D.
And then you make your touch unique. You use just your fingers or your thumbs or your hands or your whole arms when you touch. You clench. You breathe in sharply when you do this.
In the morning, you wrap your legs around them like seaweed. You run your fingers down their back and hear them make pleasing sounds. You see the lines, the scratches, blood under the skin. You press harder.
When they leave, you embrace by the door and pay attention to how you fit this way. Whose arms go where and where their face lands in your chest. If you feel the heartbeats, count them until you part, measure them, learn the rhythms.

This Old House

Embarrassing ways to die. Getting hit in a crosswalk. Experimental aircraft crumpling into a tree. Dying in my sleep, not man enough to do it awake.
I wish you didn't watch over me like a hawk. Sitting behind me, clipping your toenails. Breathing your drunk wine breath. You're obsessed about cancer. About what causes it, how long you can live with it or suffer through it. About knowing people who have it. You seek them out and then say to me, I told you so. You make me feel your breasts for lumps. Your throat. Everywhere.
I think about what's inside me too. If I look close enough I can see my own purple blood in my veins. When people change their bodies with the help of doctors and money, it reminds me of a house. Fixed up on the outside. Inside, it still looks like shit.
I hold your hand in the dark. We talk about cancer in the dark. If I look at you I'll just see the outline of your hair.
Is death like a song whose words are forgotten? Or is it the eight ball, scratched, falling into a hole, before the table is cleared.