Fiction by Megan Friddle

Memorial Day, Brooklyn

Adultery is to love-by-the-rules what the test tube is to science:

a container for experiments.

Laura Kipnis, Against Love, A Polemic

I.

His wife said she’d come back for the cats later. Rain fell, mist blown off the Atlantic, streetlights slick orange on asphalt. Traffic rushed on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, janitors and dishwashers on their way to jobs that wait for no national holiday. She repeated herself, louder this time, over the whoosh of tires and water. She was taking the cats. Later.

As she slid into the waiting sedan, empty-handed, Brian stared blankly at the street, eyebrows just barely knit together. The car pulled away, another set of anonymous taillights by the end of the block, and he stood there, barefoot, shivering slightly, too shocked to think anything but my feet are wet. Finally, he shouldered through the two front doors, stumbled down the hallway, and into the apartment, their apartment, shaking the water from his hair with trembling fingers.

The cats slunk out of the bedroom, traced the edges of the room, wrapped figure-eights of striped tabby fur around his calves. He stood in the stillness of the dark room, even rumble of cat purr in contrast to the ragged edge of his breath. She would be back to take the cats.

He walked purposefully to the bathroom, splashed cold water onto his face, wanted the shock of cold water to hurt, the slap he wished she’d struck across his face, instead of that smug look she flashed as the car door slammed behind her.

And what about the girl in the bedroom? The girl she invited to their bed: naked, vulnerable, asleep. Her taste on his lips.

II.

Afternoon: still raining. Brian and the girl escaped east, away from wet rotting Brooklyn, drove without a map toward a beach on the edge of Long Island, drove as far as they could on a tank of gas, stopped the car at an abandoned beach near Babylon, sat and stared at miles of deserted sand. Grey water bled into grey sky, no horizon.

The rain came down like spit, just enough to soak when he stopped paying attention. He held a camera, the girl an umbrella. She skipped through the sand out to the edge of the water and let the wind blow her arms back, wet hair whipping around her head in dark ribbons. Brian stood motionless on the rise of dunes, Nikon clutched in front of his chest. He felt the salt in the blowing rain, tasted it. He waved at the girl, she waved back, shouted something that broke apart in the wind. She set the umbrella down to turn cartwheels, coltish limbs sharp under wet denim.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s