All the Lights Off

Their bare feet thudded on the wooden floor. He struck a match and lit the candles on either side of the stereo cabinet. He blew out the match and held it’s carcass in front of him, waiting for the red coals to turn to black before dropping it in the waste basket.

“Why did you light the candles?” she asked.

“I like the way they make the room look. I like the way they make you look. I like the way they make me look.” His hand released a giggle in her, but she turned away. She looked at a picture on the wall, transformed also by the light of the candles.

He returned to the stereo cabinet and put on a compact disk: New Orleans style jazz music. He turned it down a little.

“Why did you put the music on?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered, but smiled at her. They fell back on the bed.

She listened to the jazz music and thought about the candles. They were props, and she was the third prop. And he was the fourth. The room itself was a prop, and the bed. She dug her elbow into the bed. She reached around him to grasp the comforter and squeeze hard. She imagined a little being way inside her who was cataloging all these props and looking on with detached amazement at the way they interacted. The light from the candles touched the wall, which also reflected the trombone sounds coming from the speakers. The bed creaked. At the center were the two human bodies, with their various limbs, their nervous systems. They were trying to fit together. Trying and failing and trying again and succeeding. The candles flickered. The CD skipped. He fell off the bed and onto the floor with a thud and a knock.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

“I’m all right,” he said. He lay on the floor for a few seconds without moving. Then she saw his hand reach up. She grabbed it and kissed it.

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