Stories No. 19 – Stephen V. Ramey

Clean
by Stephen V. Ramey

The back door slams. A mirror trembles, my hair cut short against my skull, a blunt cheek that will not soften. I walk to a window and stare after Amy. The glass is streaked. Amy was never the tidy homemaker I am, which is ironic I guess. Even with my life spinning out of control, I want to find the Windex and a paper towel.

She sits on a swing set built for children. Her kids are at school. I’m homeschooling mine. They’re probably playing video games instead of doing the homework I assigned.

Amy and I used to ditch school for the cattle auction just outside town. The smell was like perfume to me, the bulls heroes trapped within the duty of their lives, deadly horns clipped, eyes wide with fury. Cows were mere animals with udders and milk and half-bleated moos. Amy watched them all. Amy next to me, our shoulders touching. Amy.

I tried to tell her.

Her chest heaves. She looks toward the house. Does she see me, or reflected light? I know what she’s thinking, I always do. Almost always. She’s thinking she should come back, reason with me, start again. But she can’t. The past looms eternal for Amy. She’s not like me. That’s why I love her, I suppose, because I hate myself. Doctor Phil would have a field day with me.

I press my palm to the window. We used to draw faces on our fingers and act out plays. This is Romeo. Yours is Juliette. Let’s make them kiss. It was the only way I could think of to touch her.

A sob shutters through me. My proud shoulders droop. Now even that is gone.

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Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, home to not one, but two international fireworks companies. His fiction has appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Gone Lawn, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, and Prick of the Spindle, among others. His web site is stephenvramey.com, where he reviews a short story a day from the 2014 project from Pure Slush books.

November 19, 2014
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez

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