When your fever breaks, you will be hungry. You will ask for meat, a deerburger from the diner across the street. You will wait for me, a plate in your fists with a knife for the game. When your fever breaks, you will forget my name. You will look relieved to have forgotten, like you remember enough about me to know that you didn’t want me anymore. That I didn’t really want you. I will eat cereal with vanilla soy milk while you eat your meat, and you will forget where the napkins are and your skull will feel heavy and you will tell me how beautiful I look, there in my white laundry day dress, too fetching for a day spent nursing you. I will hand you three napkins and think about dropping acid. You used to. I was always afraid. I will decide to stop cutting my hair and drinking liquor. I will stand up and dump out our last bottle of vodka, our favorite, the one that poured like oil, the one that gave us wings of fire and diamond bones. You will call me a fucking thief and tell me to go home. I will show you my bags and tell you exactly when I’m leaving, the bags I packed while you were straining, delirious, in our bed. When your fever breaks, nearby wedding bells will moan about our heads, drowning out your first cries for food. You will say, Hey, louder and louder, the pistons in your throat rousing for their first shift in weeks. Your sweat will smell sweet because before your fever breaks, I give you a honeydew sponge bath. I trim your nails and hair. I massage your neck and hands. I read to you. And when your fever breaks, you will know it was me who did these things. You will forget my name but I will linger, my touch the aftertaste of milk, the hum of those wedding bells, the naked bark of trees. When your fever breaks, you will say Please, and I swear, I will be there to feed you.
This story was previously published in Wonderfort, a defunct online magazine.
Photo credit: Surreal, Deja Vu
© 2012 Dawn West. All rights reserved.