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SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Wedge in Between

Story by Debbie Ann Eis (Read author interview) June 15, 2007

He came yesterday, stayed through tomorrow. This was the moment wedged between. He said, hey Darlin, and held me, like I was naked again, but I was not naked, I was layered like a wedding cake—cotton on cotton on cotton, topped by wool, the last cloth several inches removed from my nipple. But there it was—my nipple—stiff and hard, feeling his chest hairs. My nipples can feel a man’s chest hairs one mile away. I said, well, whacha say, Sweets? He said, are you still mad, Darlin? I said depends, are you sorry? He said no, I did nothing wrong. I said, then I am still mad. He said, Darlin, you are complex. And my nipples? They were still hard, could still feel his chest hairs. I was not really mad, I like to play mad, although I did deserve to be mad. He was what my mama used to call enervating. She had all these big words reserved for certain people. I said, Sweets, you are enervating. He kept holding me, like this moment wedged in between his sinning and tomorrow was all we had. I figured he was thinking about sorry, how to say it in such a way as to avoid confession.

I had always been the sorry person. Even when he forgot the split wood, and we were without electricity, I managed to find fault in myself. I had kept him in bed with me too long, tiring him out. We ended up burning some of our old furniture. We had sex a few more times, and I said I’m sorry over and over. It feels great during an orgasm. “Oh God” gets old. But “I’m sorry?” Try it.

He said, you need to tell the truth, you always lying. I said, Sweets, I am as innocent as that mole on the inside of your thigh. He said, you have a mouth on you and a chip on your shoulder. Bad combination. I said, but I say I’m sorry. He said, well, yes you do. I said, and you don’t. He said, no I don’t. And there it was.

Yesterday was vinegar and spit rolled up into bodies—him, the non-sorry, me the sorry, him the confident one, me, the mouth with scars. Tomorrow is a million days sepia—him, hunger reaching for hamburgers with chips on the side; me, desire reaching for a diaper, the how- to-grow-the-new human book. My hard nipples a distant memory.

When his hands made it to my skin, he laughed and said, I know you will confess your sins, Darlin. I said I did nothing wrong. But I did just what he said. I said I’m sorry, I’m sorry, all night long, until the sun rose over tomorrow and the days came at me dull and my feet hit the hardwood floor like small sacks of sugar waiting to be tossed.

About the Author

Debbie Ann Eis’s work has been online and in small print, most recently at 3 AM magazine, Elimae, Word Riot, Write Side Up, Wild Strawberries and others. She lives in Connecticut with her two boys, English bulldog and husband.

This story appeared in Issue Seventeen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventeen
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