Pour some cheap Ragu into a non-microwave-safe bowl, then microwave it. That’s how Wesley felt as he sat across from a rose wrapped in loud plastic that he hoped would be crumpled by other, softer hands. The can of fat tire melting along his fingertips wasn’t part of the plan. He was surrounded by people talking to people, yet the empty chair across from him looked natural in this sea of communication. Wait a little longer. She’ll come. Wait a little longer. You weren’t wrong. Wait a little longer. You were drunk. Wait a little longer. Life is all about second chances. He holds back tears because he’s in public. She holds back tears because she knows Wesley can do better, until she realizes better is butter on a hot pan that turns black during Monday Night Football.
Wesley drank more than he smoked last night, and if the ratio were different, the night’d be different. He looked out, while she looked deep into the crevices of her brain as her dreams began to form like clouds over the sea. The phone buzzed, she stirred. Would God text Wesley this late? Her arm glided over his chest like a trail of skating ants and fell over the side of the bed. Does the devil move this late? The screen lit his face white and blanketed the walls jet black with his shadow. He floated to the door, palms and chest to the sky. He looked back and saw his heart pounding on the pillow, spewing blood onto her soft cheeks. By the time he left, his pillow was covered in brown blood. He shut the door and forgot to watch the light close like a wind-shield wiper. Thank God. How that image would’ve been seared into his mind.
Wesley beeped 3C and heard the buzz open hell’s gates. People say hell is hot, but hell it’s cold. Colder than frozen sausages in a freezer with a broken gauge. The door to 3C was open before he reached the last step on the rug stairs. Hell muffles all your footsteps so you think no one knows where you are. God trusts you enough to leave you alone, but the devil does not. He saw a hand with long fingers and even longer nails flutter over his crotch. An old Asian woman down the hall was stirring soup with a pig’s head swirling in the broth. He paid no attention to the ghastly smell or her constant muttering that would’ve spelled out, “Betrayal is worse than death.” The door closed behind him and she took off his shoes. The floor was colder than the air, and he could feel thick worms with thicker heads curling between his toes. A black blanket wrapped around his lungs and his breaths turned old. Steam floated down to his balls, led by balloons made of dead helium. Her lips were the same color as the brown blood on his pillow. She whispered words he did not know, as she moved like an elevator in space. Seconds before it was over, she asked him if she should stop. He cried yes, but it sounded like no. His ship’s wood began to spoil, and just before it reached the shore, it sunk on a pile of pirate bones. Wesley left with the sweat of her palm drying on his neck. The old Asian woman was still stirring her soup, but the pig’s head had disintegrated into the broth. She smiled at him and said, “Betrayal is worse than death” as if she had taken English lessons while he danced with the devil.
She hadn’t moved since he left, although her breathing was slower now. Her right rib cage was like a piston pushing up and down under the comforter. Wesley slid under the remaining piece of blanket that hung over the bed frame like a fat slice of brisket. He laid there like a plank, as the hurricane of guilt formed in his heart. His dick was sore and covered in a thin film of mixed fluids, which distracted him from the nauseous feeling of having hurt a human being.
The next morning, she put her head on his chest and kissed his chin. Nothing had changed in their chemistry until that night when they fucked. It wasn’t the same. Where he felt shame, she felt a dagger ripping her insides. She couldn’t explain it and Wesley wasn’t willing to explain it. She knew, like all people who have scars on their hearts, that betrayal is a story told by the body.
Wesley watched the rose lie on the table. Its pedals folded inward with the wind, going into a deep sleep. She would never come and he would never stay, and they both knew that. They would both jump from snow globe to snow globe, like all lost lovers, trying to find it before the heart goes black with intolerance.