Trey dreams in black and white of cogs and band saws, electrical circuits and wires. When he wakes up, he remembers he was once an old man. Trey is Mattie’s boyfriend. He works making repairs for the subway system. Mattie says his work clothes require industrial strength. He takes them to the Wife Saver Laundromat in the retail strip near Mattie’s apartment building. He’s studying to be a transportation engineer. He likes working underground, where it’s dark and cool, but the bills are piling up. Nights, Mattie reads and rereads the texts aloud for him, her feet propped on the kitchen table. She runs a yellow highlighter over the key points. After, they wrangle under the covers, the streetlight shining through the one, tiny window. Trey is conscientious, light with his fingers and his tongue. His hair falls over his eyes as he works her. Mattie will someday develop the habit of calling him Handsome Mole. Someday she’ll feed him cornflakes, offer him a lager. He’ll carry a backpack full of books to the Wife Saver, but he’ll never open them. He’ll die before she does, alone on an ice morning, walking past the subway to church.
–“Repair Man” was first published in Spork. It appears here by permission of the author.