Abandoned Claim
Matthew Stevenson

If he were to have conceded, the muscles in his back would have pulled him past prone into a vulnerable arch. He had to sleep curled inward, knees tucked to his chest -- a body folded over weak knees.

Their one-year anniversary fell on Halloween. The ensemble was to be burgeoning newlyweds from a recent film: he the husband, her the pregnant wife.
She sauntered into his apartment half-costumed, ripe to pretend pregnancy -- a pillow in hand to plump her blouse. She threw the pillow on the only chair and draped her purse towards the floor, but then paused. The purse strap-hung inches from the floor while her eyes swept his length, his lack of costume. She scanned the room, searched to show shock, then cut her eyes back to meet his. Her eyes had begun to wet at the rim. Straightening, she turned and exited the apartment.
The purse never met floor, blouse never stuffed. She had decided against pregnancy. He failed to brim her with the instinct to weight her womb -- even of the counterfeit kind.
In a final gesture she left the pillow, did not want to carry with her another failed, bastard chunk of a pair half-whole.

During commercial breaks he eyed the pillow scrumped on the chair. Through witness, it seemed to grow, began to dominate his attention. He turned out of bed and snatched up the pillow, brought it back to the bed and set it next to him.
Over the course of the night the weight of it created enough presence at his side to leave him without room to achieve a painless position. It was too difficult to share a bed in such a demanding, contorted state. It was the scent of her over the pillow that gave it such heft as to depress the springs next to him, make his balled sleeping position difficult even when paired with a stuffed square of lifeless cotton.
He blear-eyed his way through the following day. On the floor stretching his back he consulted a Xerox his chiropractor had given him of human-like figures in varying positions. Set in rows across the page was the shadow of a tangled evolutionary line.