Exposed Flesh

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“I see that dog all the time now,” she says, “he hangs around watching those coming and going from the stores and apartment blocks.”

“What do you think he’s up to?” I ask.

“I’m not sure,” she replies, “he could be a stray, or he could be one of those dogs that spends its days walking around exploring until returning home in the evening. Either way, he’s well behaved. I’ve never seen him be naughty.”

It’s true. In all the time I’ve spotted him going about his business, I’ve never once witnessed him playing up.

“I feel sad seeing him down there all by himself. Nobody ever notices him.”

“We notice him,” I say, “and he knows we do. That’s something, at least.”

“I guess so,” she sighs, “perhaps we can coax him over the road with some food. Let him know that we care by giving him something to fill his belly?”

Rubbing her shoulders, I kiss her on the back of her head.

“I’ll see what we’ve got,” I say, “but I don’t expect there to be much.”

“It’s better than nothing,” she responds before lighting another cigarette.

Into the kitchen, I stroll somewhat giddy on my feet. For a second, I stumble around not knowing where I am as tiny strings of electricity wriggle and slither before my eyes. Resting against the counter, I open the fridge and grab a bottle of beer. Twisting off the cap, I suck down a mouthful of the sweet, cold nectar, and just like that, I feel reborn. Whoever said self-medication was a bad thing obviously never experienced an existential crisis, or if they did, it was only the once. As my belly grumbles and groans, I examine what else is in the fridge and am perplexed to find a piece of fish wrapped in a clear, plastic bag. Neither of us like fish, myself especially.

“Why is there a fish in the fridge?” I ask while sipping some more beer.

“I dunno,” she says, not shifting her gaze from the window.

“Well if I didn’t buy it, then you must have.”

“It’s not mine,” she barks, “I don’t like fish.”

“Well, it didn’t fucking jump in the fridge by itself,” I snap.

“Don’t swear at me,” she huffs, “It’s rude.”

I know she must’ve bought the fish. She probably saw it going cheap and decided to get it on the off chance that she fancied some later. Opening the bag a little and giving it a sniff, I can tell it’s a few days out of date.”

“Can dogs eat manky fish?” I ask.

“I’m sure he won’t mind,” she replies. Eyeing the beer in my hand as I approach, she looks at me and frowns.

“Where’s mine? First, you swear at me, and then you grab a beer without offering me one. What did I ever do to be so unloved?”

Shaking her head, she turns her back on me while muttering to herself. Returning to the fridge, I pick a bottle out for her but instead of passing it into her expectant hand, I press it against the exposed flesh of her lower back.

A Journal for Damned Lovers UK

A Journal for Damned Lovers US

Anthology UK / Anthology US

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