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STARS ON THE CEILING


by

Mike Mellish



If someone were to see Dwight in the back of the bar, hoisting her up out of her chair, stumbling drunk with his tongue in her mouth, they would probably just laugh or be sick. It was funny to watch a drunk man make out with a fifty-something woman in a wheelchair. It was funny to watch Dwight pull her to her feet, her knees bowing and shaking like a newborn fawn, so they could dance cheek to cheek by themselves next to the dance floor during the slow songs. The old folks just sit at the bar, sip on their whiskey and shake their heads. What was it about this scene? Was it the way her legs looked: thin and useless as long hanging rubber snakes, the kind someone would place strategically in a garden to scare rabbits or groundhogs? Was it in Dwight's eyes: the intensity between the fluttering of eyelids, the glazed-over, dilated lust seeping through the bloodshot? Was it a lust? Yes, the old folks thought, sipping hard on their hard drinks. A lust, maybe even a love, but not for the woman herself really. And not for the money her brother slips Dwight as he carts her into the place either, a big smile on his sister's face as she waits knock-kneed in her chair, kneading her hands like a nervous child. When he sees her, Dwight shakes her brother's hand and then her brother leaves altogether. Then Dwight smiles and laughs and holds the woman up by her underarms as she kisses him. She claps her hands excitedly and laughs, showing the gaps in her teeth. They sit at a table for a while, alternately talking, drinking, and kissing. Then the slow songs come on and Dwight pulls her up again. He lets her legs drag lightly on the floor as they dance back and forth, back and forth. She's drunk now and her head is a bit loose on its axis, and if you could see the pale, loose skin under her shirt, her stick legs, how in her head she's grabbing and pulling at Dwight with claw and tooth, you'd be sick to your stomach, but look how she's smiling. Look how she's laughing. The people in the bar all gape at them, oh how they stare out of those nervous, excited peripheries. Dwight smiles. He knows. So does she. They know damn well that the young folks, spinning around on the dance floor, are holding their fruit flavored alcohol and wondering just how far it goes and why, and that the old timers sitting at the bar, their belts loose and hats cocked back, are just shaking their heads, shaking their heads; no, no, the love is in the dance.

 

                                     

                                           ******* 

 

 

Perhaps it's in her dreams that she finds her voice and her solace, but she is awake now and the clock in her bedroom blinks 4:15 a.m. in electric red letters. She stares at the stars she stuck on the ceiling above her bed, glowing yellow-green in the dark, and she calmly practices her speech:

 

"Look, Dwight, I've had enough of your 4:30 a.m. bullshit. I know where you go. I can smell it on you when you come home. Do you think if you're drunk that it doesn't matter? You took vows, Dwight. Vows. We took them together. And Dwight I have dreams too and I don't care if maybe my job sucks and maybe yours is better, you can't do this to me. And Dwight, you asshole, you know I can't do anything about how my body works, and there are alternatives to the baby, we've talked about the alternatives, Dwight. You can't keep me trapped. You just can't. So DwightŠsoŠso, who is she? Is she young? Does it hurt to love her, does it hurt you? I hope it hurts. I hope no one else ever kisses you like she does because she'll come to her senses and stop. I hope it hurts so bad, because it hurts me, Dwight. It hurts to lay here alone and just close my eyes and pretend when you walk through my door that I'm long asleep. Oblivious. But I know, Dwight, I know you so well. Is she young, Dwight, is she beautiful? I hope it hurts to love her, I hope it's fucking killing you-"

 

She stutters and goes silent as she hears someone, a shadow, a part of an arm, rolled up flannel shirtsleeves and thick forearm muscle, fumbling at the lock and finally fitting the key. Her front door slams shut and clicks as it is locked from the inside. Heavy, stumbling footsteps make their way to her bedroom doorway and she turns onto her stomach and tries to wipe the tear stains off of her pillow. She hears him come into her room, the chain lock slides shut, and she wants to scream, to tell him that her blood is hot and she is not old yet, no she is not dead yet, but she just pulls her knees to her chest and squeezes her eyes shut and tries to force the tears to drip onto her pajamas, so there would be no trace of her on the pillow for him to touch. She wishes he'd turn on the lights or at least fumble around in the dark a little, but he has a sleek sonar to him. She hates that. She tries to pull up her covers and just be alone, but, like always, the covers pull back and he crawls in next to her. She can smell him and he stinks, and he's cold. She can feel him inching closer and closer to her, and she wants to say, ŚNow Dwight, just settle down', because she knows what's going on here and that she can't give him the speech she wants to, it's just not in her. He knows it's not in her. She hears him grunt and she can feel his old denim jeans, ring in pocket, sliding down the backs of her legs. Then his warm skin on her buttocks. She would tell him to settle down and he would tell her that he is settled, so she lays in silence pretending to be asleep and she's shaking and he must know what he's doing to her. He must. He knows she's awake. She always is. She feels the breath on her neck, the skin against her body. She tries to pray, always a last ditch effort. She feels a bare hand land roughly on her hip, fingers pressing into her soft parts, rolling her over. 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Mellish is currently a student at Allegheny College in western PA. He only recently began looking into publishing his work, and has published one work of short fiction, Exhale in The Writer's Choice, a poem entitled “For My Father” in Golem Magazine and Tail in Trunk in 3am Magazine. He is 21 years old and spends his down time reading, running, playing lacrosse, and lifting weights.


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