Fiction, illustration, discussion – interesting weirdness for all the senses. Well, almost.

Dead Bedrooms

by Matthew Lyons

A couple weeks after it happens, Amy and Lucas start planning their trip.  Amy’s never been to Chicago, and it’s been like years since Luke’s been back.  They’ve been meaning to do it for a while, but after the horrible thing that happened in the church, they both agree that maybe it’s a good idea to get away from everything for a while.  Take a break from real life, so somewhere else and not have to worry about anything.  It’s a nice thought.  Amy still wakes up most nights crying from nightmares of Pastor Steven blowing a rose the size of a fist out the back of his head, up there in front of everybody.  The medication helps, but not enough to stop them from happening entirely.  Luke wakes up with her every time, holds her tight and shushes her until she can get back to sleep.  Sometimes it takes hours, some nights it doesn’t happen at all and they watch the dawn slip through the blinds moment by moment but they’re together and they’re okay and that’s what has to matter, now.

It’s during one of these long sleepless nights that they decide to just do it.  They’ve talked enough about it that they know what and how, they just need to pull the trigger except they don’t say it like that (obvious reasons).  They pull up the travel websites they usually use and since it’s actually a better deal to buy three plane tickets instead of just two, they decide together to invite Amy’s pretty sister Elaine to go with them.  She really hasn’t gotten out much since her divorce (except to do perfunctory parent shit with her two bratty kids) and having someone else vacationing there will make things easier on all of them.  Amy facebooks Lainey then and there, and when she sends back a yes, sure, that’ll be great, Luke goes ahead and buys all three tickets, his treat.  One less thing for Ame to worry about.  It’s been kind of a rough year for them anyway, so he’s happy to do something nice for her, like really nice.  It’s important to do those kinds of things for the people you love, when you’re married especially.

The plane ride isn’t that long, couple hours at the most, and then they’re there, away from all the problems and the noise and the bullshit.  They all decide to share a hotel room because yeah, it’s a little cheaper, but there are other reasons, too.  It’s not like Amy’s nightmares went anywhere, after all, and being around other people just makes her feel safe.  Besides, they’re both worried about Lainey feeling alone.  It’s her vacation too, and they’re family, right?  Togetherness is still a thing, and Amy and Luke have been married for long enough, spent enough family vacations with everybody that it’s not like he and Lainey’ve never seen each other in their pyjamas, right?  So, fuck it.  Cool.  Whatever.

Except, fact is, Luke still gets a secret little thrill out of the idea.  He loves his wife, loves Amy completely, has for years and years, but it’s not like it’s exactly a secret that he married the less-pretty sister.  It’s kind of fucked up, and it’s not like they’ve ever talked about it, but it’s always been there between them, something that hasn’t ever actually gone away, like a lump they can’t swallow back.  Not that Amy’s any kind of slouch in the looks department or anything, but Lainey?  She’s just, wow.  A natural knockout, even just in a ratty Jimi Hendrix t-shirt she got at Target and a pair of yoga pants with the elastic all blown out.

So when Amy suggests they split a room all together, Luke jumps at the idea—a chance to check her sister out in her casual delicates, maybe even steal a look or two in the mornings while she’s towelling off or still sleeping?  Absolutely, honey.  I think that’s a great idea—can’t believe I didn’t think of that.  You’re so smart.  I married the smartest girl.

He’s only human, after all.  He’s only a man, I mean, come on.

The room itself is really nice, too—kind of impressive where you can stay if you all pool your money and don’t mind roommates.  It’s big, almost like a suite but not quite.  Close, though. Both beds are king size, and there’s a mini bar.  Pretty cool.  First thing Lainey does when they check in and get upstairs is toss her bag off the floor, kick off her shoes and flop face down on the nearest bed, spreadeagled, her hair fanning out from her like a bleach blonde halo.

“Oh my god you guys, she moans into the comforter, “this is exactly what I needed.  You honestly have no idea.  It’s like that song or something.”

Beside him, Amy smiles and crosses the room to set her own bag down by the air conditioning unit.  “I’m really glad, sweetie.  Really glad you could come with.  It means a lot.  Honestly.”

Lainey rolls over to face her little sister while Luke goes in the bathroom to wash the travel off his hands and face.  “No, seriously, thank you.  I just, after everything that happened with Steve and all, I just needed to get away.”  They still haven’t told her about the pastor.  They probably never will.

Amy sits down next to her sister and gives her a pat on the back of the head.

“It’s been a shit year for everybody, Laine.  We’re just glad you’re here.  We miss you.”

“I miss you guys too.  I love you, both of you.  Thanks for this.”

“You’re welcome. Thank you. Now everybody stops apologising for the rest of the trip.  Deal?”

“Deal.”

Luke comes out of the bathroom just as his wife leans down to kiss her pretty sister on the cheek and can’t help but think the obnoxious obvious, so when Amy sees his creepy smirk, she whips a pillow at his face.

“Don’t be gross,” she says.

It’s late enough in the afternoon that they’re all tired and there’s really not that much to do around the hotel anyway, so they all settle for having a couple hours to chill out and nap maybe if they want to, followed by dinner at the hotel restaurant.  It’s not bad—not great either, but it’s a hotel restaurant, so whatever.  That night, when they’re all getting ready for sleep, Luke sees the tiniest little bit of the cleft of Lainey’s ass cheeks at the bottom of her sleep shorts.  He lays in the dark until he’s sure they’re both sound asleep, then gets up and goes into the bathroom to jerk himself off in the sink.  He runs the tap lukewarm (ha) and wipes the porcelain clean with his bare hand before going back to bed.

They fill the next day with all sorts of typical touristy bullshit—the Sears Tower, Millennium Park, the Art Institute, planetarium, aquarium, Wrigley Field.  Maybe the Cubs have a chance at the series this year.  They do it all, and they do it hard, starting at like 8am and going until they’re all three just completely fucking out of energy.  Back in the hotel room, they sleep like the righteous or the dead and none of them dream at all—sinking instead into nothingness as if into a soft black loam on a forest floor.  When they wake, they do so in chorus, emerging once more into the land of the living, all three as one.  Luke does it with an erection so proud and stiff it nearly vibrates when she shifts and he has to roll away to keep the girls from seeing.  He doesn’t want to make things weird or anything.  He piles himself under bunched blankets and pretends to be waking up slowly so they don’t ask him why he’s still in bed.  Laine’s hair is all messed up from sleep just like it wold be from fucking (he imagines) and when she stretches, her shirt lifts up and Luke can see her pierced belly button and he’s so hard it sort of hurts now and he has to wait until one of them goes to the bathroom for a shower and the other goes downstairs for coffee and a croissant from the continental so he can quickly beat off into one of his socks and the whole time he’s thinking about hot the cold metal tugs on her skin just a little bit and she’s got all these sexy little gossamer hairs on her tummy and how bad he wants to lick them and oh my god oh my god oh my fucking god god god.

He stuffs the damp, musty sock in the bottom of his suitcase and makes a mental note to pull it out and soak it before Amy unpacks the bags and does laundry next.

When the girls come back into the room proper, they don’t have a clue.  He’s smart as fuck.

Day Two looks a lot like Day One did, except maybe slower.  They go back to the art institute because their passes are still good and they didn’t even have a chance to see it all yesterday.  After that, they drive to the waterfront so they can all see Lake Michigan, just so they can say that they did.  Not like it’s that impressive or anything, it’s just a lot of water.  Okay, sure, it’s like a fucking lot of water, yeah, but it’s still just some lake.  Blah.  Lainey says it’s blah and Luke is maybe a little too fast to agree with her, but doesn’t think she or her sister notice anyway.  It’s fine.  Everything is fine.  When Lainey stands up from where she was sitting on the sand and gravel, she’s got a wet spot on her butt and Luke can’t help but think of the wet spots in the sock from this morning and oh shit he suddenly wants to go again but he can’t unless they maybe find a public restroom or a gas station or something no stop it, stop it, get your shit together, jesus fucking christ.  This time he thinks he sees Amy catch him looking, and even though she doesn’t say anything about it, he feels weird now and he doesn’t know why she’s got to guilt him like this.  He’s just a man.  Men look.  It’s natural, take the stick out your ass about it.

Whatever.

Lainey says she wants to go out that night and cut loose, maybe go party some, blow off some steam and do some shit she can’t do when her kids are around, so Luke lets Amy say that sounds like fun before he agrees with her, and with all three of them on the same page like that, they call the afternoon early to go back to the hotel to rest and recharge before the evening.  Lainey and Amy nap and Luke sits in the chair and reads and tries to not think about jacking it because naps aren’t the same as the middle of the night, so if he does and one of them wakes up and catches him, he’ll be in deep shit no matter who it is.  So he sits and reads his whatever paperback Patterson bullshit and waits for the next few hours to go by, which they do, eventually, but it’s not like him checking his phone every couple of minutes helps any.

He and Amy get ready together in the bathroom while Lainey does the same in the main room and Yelps bars within walking distance of the hotel—turns out there’s a lot of them, actually.  She reads reviews out loud and cycles through pages until they all agree on one to start at, a trendy gastro-club with good specials and a live DJ.

“Is it loud?” Amy asks.  “It sounds like it’s going to be loud.  Like, in general.”

Lainey gives her a look.  “Is that such a bad thing?  I think it seems cool.”

“It’s just, I mean, I want to have fun too, you know?”

Lainey smiles, her eyes low and pitying.  “You will, Ame.  I know you will.  I promise that you will.  Just give it a chance.  Don’t be so quick to nay-say, right?  It’s gonna be okay, but not just okay though.  Fun.  It’s going to be fun, real, actual fun.  You’re not too much of a grownup that you forgot about fun, right?  Luke, sweetie, would you please tell our beautiful wife and sister that if she just trusts someone for once in her old lady life, she might actually enjoy something outside of her comfort zone?”

They both turn to look at Luke from across the hotel room, a pair of curious, done-up hawks on a wire.  They make him feel like he’s good and in the tiniest way possible that’s kind of sexy, but at the same time he recognises what’s happening here and it’s really, really not good.  He doesn’t want to have to choose and what’s maybe worse, he doesn’t want to have to defend that choice.  That shouldn’t have to be part of the deal.  He should just be able to choose what he wants and then walk away from the argument and go and enjoy the choice he made.  That’s how it should work.  This?  This is bullshit.

Because honestly, he thinks the gastro-club does sound like a lot of fun, but since Amy saw him looking earlier, she might think he’s just siding with his dick, and no doubt he’d hear about it later, true or not.  He doesn’t know if it’s true or not, he really can’t tell.  But, whatever, right?  Lainey asked him because she wants to know his opinion, and even with Amy giving him that shitty look like she already knows what he’s going to say, it would be wrong to lie, wouldn’t it?  After all, lying is always wrong, isn’t it?

“I think it sounds like a cool place to start.”  His voice shakes where it’s supposed to be confident and he can see in Amy’s expression that she’s definitely going to cut some time out of tomorrow to lecture him about it, but that’s tomorrow, and tomorrow’s still a long way off.

Tonight’s going to be fun.  That’s what it’s here for.

Tomorrow can be as fucked up as it wants.

To be totally fair, the bar is really loud, but it’s also really fun.

They stay there for a couple of hours until the tab gets too high and they all start to get flighty, then move on to the next one, and the one after that.  Amy loosens up after her first couple tequila sunrises, even starts to laugh and shit.  Luke doesn’t think it’s fake, but even if it is, he’s cool with it.  Problems for tomorrow, right?  So whatever.

He throws himself into the night, decides to do it with gusto.  All around them, it’s like reality takes on a kind of soft focus, all the edges warped and blurry.  Amy gets loud, Lainey gets silly, Luke gets a little bit handsy.  Nothing serious, an extra hug or two, a hand on the small of a back a few seconds too long, fingers pressing just a little too tightly against the fabric, getting a feel for the texture or maybe something else.  If the girls notice, they don’t let on, and that’s just fine, too.

Another bar and another bar and then some more.  Luke kills a bunch of gin and tonics, Lainey and Amy go out on the floor to dance together.  The DJ or the jukebox or whatever starts playing Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood singing about something bad about to happen, and the girls stomp and shout the lyrics and dance their asses off.  When the song’s over, the girls come back over, all sweaty and smiles, and somebody (Luke) orders them all a tray full of shots.

After that, things get weird and indefinite, Luke’s consciousness all soupy, just shapes and lights and noises that sound like a lot of garble to him, but he’s having a real good time.  The last thing he registers before the darkness drags him completely under is crunching to his hands and knees around the hotel room toilet and thinking that the orange spray of barf that jets out of him isn’t entirely dissimilar to the mess that blew out the back of Pastor Steven’s head and then he hits the floor entirely and he isn’t anywhere or anyone for a long time after that.

Luke comes to cold and cramped and shattered into a hundred pieces on the bathroom tile.  His head feels like a thump clapped in a car door and his body won’t work the way he tells it to.  He aches, he hurts.  Moving hurts.  Moving is bad.  Everything is bad.  Why are the lights on in here?  He rolls over and jams his face into the toilet bowl and realises he didn’t even flush before passing out last night but that isn’t really even important right now because more’s coming up anyway.  He heaves and the strain of it hurts his ribs and his spine and his asshole and he does it again and again until there’s nothing left inside.  He’s just scored clean to bleeding.  His brain is a plastic grocery bag full of broken plates, his mouth tastes like an ashtray somebody filled with diarrhea.  He hasn’t had a hangover this bad in probably years at this point.  he hopes he didn’t make a dickhead out of himself in front of Lainey.  He hopes she didn’t hear him barf so bad.  He hopes that Amy isn’t going to be too huge of a bitch about it.

Luke rinses the smears off his face and hands and neck and shirt and pulls the bathroom door open slowly as he possibly can, trying to keep quiet so he doesn’t wake them up.  They’re each in one of the beds, snuggled up like angels, buried under blankets and pillows and the like a thousand drinks they all had last night.  Like wishes he was still sleeping, but he knows how he feels, knows he’s gonna be up until he’s not.  In the far bed, Amy snores quietly.  Closer to him, Lainey’s totally quiet, the very picture of feminine grace.  Amy snorts, shifts, rolls over, farts, then keeps on snoring.  Luke rubs his eyes and tries to remember why they got married in the first pace.  It’s the hangover.  It’s the hangover making him think like this, not anything really real.

It’s the hangover.

Right?

Luke strips down to his skivvies and gets into bed next to his wife, nuzzles up on her until she pulls away with an annoyed grunt.

“Fuggoffme,” she moans.  “Lemmesleep.  Donbeadickrighnow.”

Fine.  Luke rolls away from her, stuffs his head under the spare pillow in a misguided attempt to quiet out the sound of his blood inside his skull.  The throbbing is incredible, seems to pulse with the fluttering of the light through the curtains.  he reaches for the phone to call down for some room service, but one of them ripped it out of the wall the night before.  He wonders if it was for happy reasons or angry reasons. Either way, that’s going to be a charge someone’s going to be an asshole to him about.

Fuck this.  Whatever.

He rolls out of bed again and goes to sit on the end of the other bed—he’s not worried about waking Lainey up, she was the most fucked-up out of anybody last night, and anyway, her bed’s closer to the TV.  He flips the oversized flatscreen on and immediately jams the volume-minus button on the remote til the sound’s so low that only he can hear it.  He cycles through all the channels a few times—news, college sports are bullshit, Korean cartoons, daytime talk shows with smiling jackasses, dogshit reality TV, back to news again—until he gets fed up with it and turns it off again.  Nothing’s working this morning.  Fucking fuck.  He throws himself back onto an empty patch of Lainey’s bed and pulls some of the blankets up over his bare shoulders.

He knows what he should do.  Of course he knows.  But he can’t summon up the energy required to banish this bullshit hangover just yet—Advil, water, shower, maybe even a jog in the hotel gym—nope.  No fucking way.  Right now he’s just going to wallow.

Glancing down, he notices that one of Lainey’s perfect, slender feet has fallen loose of the comforter, hanging slack off the edge of the mattress.  He leers at it, trying to make sense of being this close to it.  He feels it in the pit of his throat like a sick hunger.

The idea comes to him in pieces, assembling itself behind his eyes as he stares, a ragged Frankenstein of thought.  He jostles in place, testing the bedsprings and Lainey too, just to see how much it’s going to take to wake her up.  She was so gone last night, they basically had to carry her back here, he remembers that much.  Luke bounces and bounces, but Lainey doesn’t stir.  Okay.  Cool.  No problem.  He slides off the bed and onto his knees on the rough hotel carpet, using a thumb to adjust the elastic of his tighty-whiteys around his lazy, hungover erection.  He lifts the comforter back another half inch and sees some bare leg.  Is she naked under there?  Holy fuck.  He crawls around the bottom of the bed so his face is only maybe inches from that perfect barefoot, nails painted red at the end of long, pointed toes that seem to exist in direct opposition to Amy’s boxy square ones with the knuckle hair.  He stares and hopes that in some deep down way she can feel his hot nervous breath, submerged in the sludge of drunksleep.  He’s not normally into feet, but shit, this isn’t really something that he can like turn away from.  It’s too perfect, she’s too perfect.  There’s an image of two minutes in the future buzzing through Luke’s mental fog, of him slipping his mouth around her big toe and quickly cranking himself off into the spare blankets pooled at his knees.  It’s not like anyone would know, right?  Housekeeping must get cum-stained sheets all the time.  Nobody would ask any questions, shit.  He shifts in place and slides his boner out of the right leg hole of his underpants so it’s pointed down and pressed against this thigh.  Leans in closer, inches to centimetres to less.

Just a kiss, okay?

That’s all it’ll be, and if she stirs or whatever, he’ll back off and be in the bathroom before anyone knows better.

Just a kiss.

Just to see how she feels, how she tastes.

Just to see.

No one will ever know, and if that’s true, did it even ever really happen?

Fuck it.

He puckers his lips and plants them on the top of Lainey’s foot, lets the flat of his tongue press firmly into the skin, glazing up the length of her, toward the ankle.

She’s cold.

Like, too cold.  Not like clammy-too-much-booze-and-slept-naked-without-the-covers cold, but like, grocery-store-deli-department cold.

Holy shit.

Luke recoils, stumbling up to his feet and staring down at the mound of blankets and

body

person before him with a horrible dread that fills up his head like vertigo.  He feels ten miles high, liable to plummet to his own destruction at any second.  He fucks with the leg hole of his shorts to put his cock away but his hands aren’t working right now and what the fuck anyway.  This is bad.  This is real bad.  How is he going to explain this to Amy?

Oh, my god.

Oh, my fucking god.

He tries not to let himself think the D-word but of course that only makes him think it harder and now doubly so, triply even because she’s dead dead dead fucking Lainey’s dead and it’s not like he can do anything about it but now this vacation is just him and his wife and a dead fucking body that used to be a person and he doesn’t even know how to process this because it’s not like he knows anything about alcohol poisoning or whatever and if Amy finds out what he was doing she’s going to be so totally fucked off about that and let’s be totally honest he’s already dealing with enough as it is and—

Bad thoughts unspool in his head in an endless roll-spill, an old-style film reel vomiting off its black-and-brown guts and he’s so scared of everything right now that the only thing he can think to do is grab his discarded, pukey clothes and lock himself in the bathroom like nothing ever happened and he never came out here in the first place because that way he never did anything wrong anyway and nobody can prove otherwise.  Laying on the cold tile again, he pulls his pants and shirt on slow then stays laying there staring up at the nothing ceiling until outside, Amy starts screaming.

He expects that she’s going to start crying, but she doesn’t.  After the screams pass, Amy’s all business, snapping a plan together out loud and Luke just stands there, trying to look aghast and uncomfortable (it’s not hard) in his clothes, sure that she knows something she shouldn’t.  It takes him a minute to realise she’s shifted her focus to talk to him, and even then he’s only half-listening until she looks at him with barely-restrained tears welling out of her big blue eyes and says

“Okay?”

He nods, pretending at comprehension, confidence.

“Just stay here,” Amy says.  “I’ll be right back, I’m going to find help.  I won’t be long.  I’ll be right back.  I promise.  You just stay here, okay?  Stay here with her.”

She holds his gaze longer than she should, and he can see all the awful little emotions inside her head, all pinballing off of each other in a disorganised clatter.  She’s only barely keeping it together at this point and Luke understands that she just needs to get out of here, that she can’t be in the room with him and

the body

her sister right now because it’s too big and too bad and too gruesome anyway and if she doesn’t get out of here like right fucking now she’s going to melt down again and that can’t happen yet so he puts his hands on either side of her head and squeezes in a gentle, loving way, reassuring her, then kisses her between the eyes like he always does and says

“It’s okay, you go get help, alright?  I’ll be here with her ’til you get back.”

Amy audibly chokes back a sob, then nods and uses her hands to squeeze his own.

“Alright,” she tells him.  “Okay.  okay,  I’ll be right back.  Keep her safe, okay?”

He kisses that same spot again, tries to force a smile.

“Okay.  We’ll be waiting here for you.”

She nods again, one last time, then she’s out the door and Luke can hear the soft whupping of her bare feet against the hallway carpet, disappearing down the distances beyond.

Then, it’s just the two of them again.  Alone.

He stands at the edge of her bed, admiring her form underneath the thin sheet Amy pulled over her after CPR didn’t do anything.  She’s still beautiful, basically perfect, all things considered.  Luke’s heart hammers against his ribs, jacking his pulse, making his face and hands feel all hot and swollen, like a kid on prom night who’s been promised his first blowjob in the limo afterwards.  His nerves come on like a fever that boils under the surface of reality itself until it comes away in loose, gluey ropes, moments stretched out like hot taffy.  He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it until it’s done but the sheet spills on the floor at the foot of the bed and her cold skin is like a salve from heaven against his sick, balloony fingers and now it’s too late because he’s crossed that line again and maybe he thought it would be harder than this but it wasn’t and she feels so fucking good it’s not like he’s going to stop now, it’s obviously too late for that.  Don’t be an idiot.

Luke presses the side of his face to her bare belly, savouring the smoothness of her skin, the tautness, trying to leech the cold from her.  When he pulls away, there’s an imprint of his face left in her flesh, like she’s made of memory foam or something.

He takes her in inch by inch—he’s wanted to see this for so long—well, not this, exactly, but her, stretched out naked, perfectly comfortable with him staring, not pretending she doesn’t see, not making like she doesn’t know how he feels, what he wants.  Not playing dumb.  Come on, how could she not know, after all these years?  She had to figure it out, somewhere even if just in the back of her head.  She knew.  She was flattered.  She liked the attention, especially after having both her kids which could have wrecked her figure but didn’t and after her marriage to that asshole fell apart like it did.  She knew, she noticed him, noticing her.  She took it as the compliment it was meant as.  Maybe they could have even had a chance at something, the two of them.  If she’d have lived.  Like’s heart feels like a sinking stone at the thought.  Her eyes are still closed like she’s sleeping and her skin is starting to turn just the lightest shade of whisper blue, not dead but like she spent too long in a cooling bath.  Luke strips all the way down again and runs his fingers through her thick blonde hair—still soft—as he lies down behind her and tucks his throbbing erection in between her chilly ass cheeks.  Inhales the sweet smell of her deep as he can, imagines her breathing in time with him.

“I’ve wanted you so bad for so long, Lainey,” he murmurs to the back of her head.

“I want you too,” she says back, keeping completely still.

He presses the all of him tightly against her nude back, letting his fingers grace her cool ribs and hips and thighs.  He drags his lips up the length of her neck, giggling at the way the tiny hairs there tickle his nose.  She giggles with him, and he swears he feels her quiver when she does it.  She’s so shy and she doesn’t have any reason to be, not anymore.  Luke feels bad for her.

“I love you,” he sighs.  “I think I’ve loved you for years.”

“I love you too,” she moans, burying her back against his body as his hand dances down from between her breasts, over her still-misshapen tummy, through the thatch of well-kept pubic hair.

“Say it again,” he tells her.

She says nothing.  He squeezes her tighter.

“Say it again,” he hisses.

Nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing.  Noth—

“I love you too, Luke.”

She says it warm because she is warm.  She was always warm.  On the outside and on the inside.

Maybe she still is.

He dips his hand lower and feels her and that’s when Amy starts to scream in the doorway.  Luke’s dream shatters into pebbled glass across the floor and his head snaps up and he sees them all standing there, seeing him.  Paramedics, the concierge, a couple of cops, and in the middle of all them, Amy, looking like she’s going to barf if she can just stop screaming for a second.  Twelve eyes, all plate-wide and appalled.  Everything is frozen, nobody does or says anything to keep Amy from losing her entire fucking mind and in that moment, Luke knows just how fucked he really is.  There’s a dread unzipping from deep inside his belly and he scampers to get out of bed but he’s all tangled up and the person-shaped meat in the sheets goes with him and falls off the side and hits the floor with a dull whump.

“It’s okay,” he tells them, hands out, cock still stiff.  “She wanted me to.”

The bigger police officer steps forward and punches him in the face so hard that most of his teeth come loose and shaky and he tastes a sticky flood of hot copper.

They take him away in handcuffs and the sheet off the floor.  It still smells like her, like lavender and rosemary and he doesn’t even really notice when Amy yanks her ring off and whips it at his head.  The diamond set in the tiny gold hoop kisses a bloody spot between his eyes then caroms away down the hall, vanishing forever.  The back of the police car they stuff him in smells like puke and bloodfarts and unwashed flesh and on the plexiglass barrier between him and the front seat, someone’s scratched I’M YOUR BOYFRIEND NOW next to a leering, mawkish smiley face.

Amy never sees Luke again and she never really stops having nightmares, but eventually, she stops crying, and maybe that’s enough.

Matthew Lyons is probably taller than you, not that it’s a competition or anything. His work has most recently been published in Rivet, b(OINK), Out of the Gutter, The Molotov Cocktail and more. Complaints can be filed on twitter at @reverendlyons

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