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The Pool Guy

Story by Jessica Alexander (Read author interview) March 17, 2015

art by Louise O'Rourke

It was not a separation. Not what you’d call a conventional marriage to begin with. More like I was alone experiencing an emotion and then I was alone experiencing a different emotion. And everyday the pool guy came. And I ordered the pool guy to drink with me. I said sit with me. I said if I lose the house I’ll come back for you. Bruce can’t take the pool and the pool guy too. He said I am sorry about the separation. He said a tampon has clogged the filter. He said I’d better clean the pool. I held his wrist. I said sit. It was not a separation. Not a wound. My mouth is the wound. I wish you’d stuff yourself in my mouth. I said I wish you’d shut me up. He pulled his wrist free with such force he fell backward. I said I want you to leave, Thomas. Leave and don’t come back here. He stood up. I said sit. You look thirsty. Tom, may I offer you something? I took off my top.

It was not a conventional marriage, I said at the hotel bar to no one in particular. He works all day and I sunbathe.

Thomas, I said, do you find this distasteful? Is it not to your liking? I was touching his thigh. His hands were neatly folded in his lap. Because I do not have a body, I want yours. That’s what this is about, Tom, you grass fed dildo. Fucking. He raised his glass to his lips. He gazed at the pool. He swallowed. You do, he said, have a body.

It isn’t a separation. It’s an expression. At the hotel bar I tell them, your guess is as good as mine. How is Bruce? I say Bruce is fine. That woman is garbage, he told them. He did not create my emotions. He created an occasion. I say, “separated,” mascara rolling down my face.

Do you like it? He said like what. I said my body, Thomas. Touch it. He did not budge. It’s not a body. I said it’s a crack in a house where the TV plays all day. Do you know the problem with the TV, Tom? It’s the problem with me. I am deeply empathic, Tom. Did you guess it? A medium. Words and gestures move through me. I haven’t the slightest idea what they mean.

About the Author

Jessica Alexander teaches and studies at the University of Utah. Her fiction has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Fence, DIAGRAM, and PANK, among other places. She is currently a fiction editor for Quarterly West.

About the Artist

Through photography, erasure, sculpture and video Louise O’Rourke investigates the unraveling nature of memory. Currently she lives and works in Philadelphia as an educator at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and a photographer documenting artists’ work.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Seven
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.