Please, Please, Please 
Beth Thomas

Her hands feel foreign, the sinew and bone and nerve unfamiliar, not her own. He is pale and smooth, so smooth his skin on her skin. Her hands tick across his spine like counting down to something. They hover, quake, mark seconds. He unfolds himself and crosses the room to open the window. Her awkward stranger’s hands still; the nestle of night and the noises of the world ease her into and through the clumsy choreography of sleeping.

The salt smell, the humid dark, the sweet mint taste in her mouth: she files these things away: this memory. Dreaming, she pulls the tide sounds from the air and wraps them as gifts.

In the flat gray morning light, those hands are again her hands and the intent in them feels familiar – to touch that skin. It is not just that, so simply. It is the lack of color, the lack of scarring there. She asks: remember this moment.

She stands at the window looking out, over, toward. She imagines heaving something, catching shards of plate glass as they fall, crashing through. She imagines taking his mother’s bible and smashing every clock in the place.

Some bird walks across the roof of the building next door. From claw to wing to voice, it could be any kind; she doesn’t yet know birds. The building next door is the improbable hue of blue neon. The walls are full of music notes. This, she will remember.

“Once I saw my father punch another man,” she says. “I was ten, maybe eleven. It changed everything.” She sees her words fall, over, away, out the window, down like snow. “Everything changed.”

He says from the kitchen something like Why? or What? Some kind of question, a prod for more, a clarification. But her eyes are closed and she has gone somewhere else. The tide pulls the breath which pulls the blood which tugs at that cellular stillness. Her hands flutter against each other, bumping up against each other’s tiny scars. Her feet move as if to cross over, to chase the breath as it goes. Upon opening her eyes, she sees his vague reflection.

She recalls a long bridge that crosses a canyon out in the middle of nowhere. The bridge is only wide enough for one car at a time. If you get to the middle and find another car there, one of you has to back up, start over. There is a red line at the middle point, so you know who must retreat. The worst thing is the way the two drivers are right there, face to face. The awkwardness.

The roof bird flaps its wings and takes off. She regains her stillness at the window, at the ledge, recording scents now: eggs frying, ocean tide ebbing, buses running, coffee brewing. She imagines herself a little girl holding a paddle at the edge of a lake, at the edge of the world. She asks: remember this girl, her inertia like a swarm of bees.

When he leaves, it is like any other leaving – like how in dreams, people are just sometimes gone, and for a while things feel sideways. She imagines that, in a new city, he takes particular note of birds, of trees, of the small things forgotten to the city itself.

She drinks off the day in some beachside bar. She is drunker than she realizes. She sketches bees in the margins of her book, a small thing about recognizing birds. The bartender makes a joke and she looks up at him, blurry, her smile a simple string of teeth.

Beth Thomas currently lives and works in Las Vegas, NV. She does not work at the Gold Spike, even though that’s what she likes to tell people. Her stories have recently appeared in JMWW Journal, Staccato Fiction, Wigleaf, and other places.