Mutual

by Henry Kivett Read author interview October 2, 2011

She’s got the worst fuck face ever. It’s a sneer. Her thin upper lip curls towards her icy green eyes. She looks right through me, off into space. It’s a look of embattled concentration. Like she’s trying, with no dictionary, to translate from French, searching her vocabulary for the English words that make up la petite mort.

Really, it’s her attitude that keeps me coming back for more. She acts as if she’s got the fuck face that launched a thousand ships. She flirts and she teases. She does yoga in knee socks and no bra. I consider myself, fuck face aside, a lucky man. But you can tell she knows something is up. She’s overcompensating.

So we break up—it’s mutual—in April. Our lease runs out in June, so we decide that no one has to move out. I just start sleeping in the other room. Just until June, we agree. It makes sense financially, it’s only a couple of months, and neither of us has anywhere else to go.

In late May, I come home from work early to find her sobbing in the shower. I silently watch her silhouette, I listen while steam crawls inside my clothes.

She cries very differently when she knows I can see and hear her. Tears well up and slip free. She brushes them aside and she sniffs delicately. It’s nothing like this. This sounds like vomiting, like dying, like death.

Creepy, I know, but this is a face I must see. I tiptoe across the bathroom tile and put my feet on the toilet lid. I tilt my head over the shower curtain and watch her. She shudders and gasps and she struggles to keep her spirit from abandoning her body.

If this were a scene from a bad movie and we were shitty actors, I would whip open the curtain. Her bosoms would heave at being discovered, at being found so raw and so real. I would take her in the steam, slippery and gasping, and her face would send Greeks to war in wooden ships while I watch.

Instead, I quietly step down and slip out. I close the door, walk to my bedroom and lie down. I close my eyes and wait and listen, and I imagine her face above mine, looking past me, right through me, off into space.

About the Author:

Henry Kivett is a writer and graphic designer currently enrolled in the MFA program at NCSU. His fiction and humor has appeared online at McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Opium Magazine, Pindeldyboz, and Word Riot.

About the Artist:

Ashley Inguanta is a former art director of SmokeLong Quarterly and author of three poetry collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books, 2014), and Bomb (Ampersand Books, 2016). Next year, Ampersand Books will publish her newest collection, The Flower, about how death shapes us.