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He lends her his comb by Michael J Pagan

He loved—or so he thought—the idea of it; thinking: how young was I when I first learned how to hide? As she leaned—preferring always to kneel upside-down, or right-side up depending on whose perspective was right at that particular moment—both her knees just above the crown of his head, both hands cleft by the breadth of his bare abdomen, as her hair dripped over him.

It disappointed him that moments like this—minutes of a woman’s company—were enough to make him feel lucky.

“You know, if we’re really being honest, honest about the rules that govern the number line, the ones that we ourselves created, then we’ve only really lived for no more than a fraction of second.”

They would take turns: one rinses off in the shower while the other lies naked on the cold, porcelain tile—workable and a less stressful location, he guessed. They would then step out, careful not to dry a single piece of themselves and equally careful not to slip on the puddles gathering, then kneel and let themselves drip over the other’s body until the heat and clenching humidity from outside the open windows would dry them—and the tiles.

“. . .then, he never really lived very long. A tenth of a second by my estimation.”

He opened his eyes, then. He looked up so that he was staring through the unique plane that was an upside-down triangle created by her inner thighs and the floor, across the bedroom and into the bathroom. He thought about those upside-down puddles and how they reminded him of her mother: how she couldn’t stand up for long stretches without collapsing in a heap—something about circulation.

If the world faced this way, it would’ve been better, he thought. Just shake it up, turn it upside-down, and you’ll find the world better than the one you used to know, he remembered her mother telling him once. And if that were true then she’d have been right. If the room suddenly flipped upside-down, as if by some marvelous machine that were attached to the side of his one-room efficiency: at the flip of a switch, an involuntary and perfunctory hand would appear and rotate the room until it was on its head, it would be only then that his face would suddenly fall into that magnificent space of hers.

“If you weren’t talking so much, you would’ve already realized that it’s my turn now,” she said as if she could breathe in what he was thinking, all the while with raindrops on her hair that also gathered the mid-afternoon sun.

“It’s amazing how you can still enjoy a moment without ears and mouths,” she said.


Michael J Pagan is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University's Creative Writing MFA program. His work has appeared in Bridle Path Press, The Rumpus, The Northville Review, DIAGRAM, and is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review, and Prompt Literary Magazine.