Ann Huchingson | Lakshmy Mathur
“I don’t sleep much,” I tell him, dangling my insomnia in front of him like a ripe pomegranate, its many compartments mysterious and ruby. Sleeplessness implies action in the dark of night, implies rumpled sheets and tangled limbs.
He lifts his eyebrow and his glass to his lips in one motion, as though they are connected by a strand of fishing wire.
I swivel my stool slightly toward him. A drop of foam from his beer hangs on his lip like an invitation, and though I want to reach for it with my tongue — parched and starving for the taste of him — I reach out and casually wipe it away with my thumb.
He has a tattoo on his right bicep. A serpent in a fading black that is bordering on green. The reptile is poised, waiting to strike, its forked tongue flicking out just enough to be threatening. His denim shirt hides the tattoo tonight, but I know it is there, slithering and bumping underneath the thick blue fabric of his sleeve. It’s waiting.
I want to erase the worried creases from between his eyes with my fingers, to smooth away the concern like a hot iron on a wrinkled cotton blouse. But it is enough to be sitting here, next to him. Enough for now, anyway.
He is like a jittery jackrabbit. If I approach too quickly, grasp too tightly, he’ll bolt for cover. He’ll disappear into his warren — his real life with Jackie and their infant twins, his overdue bills and his unemployment checks.
I only want a piece of him. I only want tonight.
I don’t want to snare him, only to pet him for a bit. Like a soft, soft rabbit fur, I’ll rub the length of him against my skin, for luck, and maybe a little love. And then, I’ll let him go.
Until next time.
I offer a slight smile, and swivel my stool away, just enough. I wait, hanging there in the open space of possibility, using all of my willpower to keep my hands off the dense planes of his shoulder, his arm. I wait for it, take a sip of my gin, and then, at last, his voice.
“Should we go somewhere?” he asks, his eyes dodging around the room, taking in the few beery, bleary patrons — old goats with no hair and few teeth. There is no one here to notice us.
“Yes,” I whisper, relieved and breathless. “Yes, let’s go.”