Winter Dark

Erica McBeth

Last night, she lay curled, her knees pushing into her stomach, one hand resting between my lap and her head. I petted and smoothed her winter dark hair while tears rolled across the bridge of her nose and made a soft stain on my jeans. She smelled of gray cigarette puffs and milky soap. I didn’t say anything as she slowly rubbed the beginning bulge under her breasts. She lifted her shirt to expose it. The skin was pulling itself smooth. She clawed at it, leaving scratches.

The soft stain grew.

With infant softness, she whimpered and sighed.

Tonight, I look at her as she lay there. The light from the hallway falling on her body, flung across the floor. A thick, raw, curdling smell rankles around my nose. Her pink panties stretch between her parted thighs, soaked and darkened. Her head lolls to the right,

Arms jerking,
Fingers curving,
Left foot pressing into her slimy right thigh.

Smears wipe from her swollen navel, down her thighs, like finger paint.

The clothes hanger lay next to her right foot.
The hook is bent and wet.

She shivers and jerks. I drop to my knees and turn her comfortably with her head in my lap. The raw curdling smell crowds in and takes the milky soap away.

She claws with a burgundy washed hand at the quivering bulge.

The only thing I hear is a steady, quick drip from the bathroom faucet. I can feel her muscles tightening and seizing.

The soaking and darkening gets worse and the smell keeps pushing at me, telling me to move, telling me to leave. I hold on to her and try to rock the misery away. The scared, agitated muscles slow down. Her face smoothes itself out and I sit, darkened, listening to the quick drip, petting the winter dark hair, trying to smell the milky soap.

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