“Another Monday in March” by Jacob Hendricks

When I get to work I leave my guts on the curb. I won’t need them inside. So I scoop them out like ice cream and pile them up next to the others. They’re all pretty similar. Some are darker. Some emptier. I notice mine are heavy and fragrant. I can’t place the stench. But it reminds me of ground beef and sour cream. 

When I leave work I find my guts where I left them. A few crows were just about to start chowing down. I caught one in the belly with the heel of my boot. Then I stuff my guts back in the best I can. I feel better already. There’s sunlight for the first time this year. The vitamin D from the light turns my blood into wine. It’s been too long. I start sweating. Quickly soak through. I fumble taking my coat off and almost trip crossing the street. Catch myself against a bench. An old woman walking a cat laughs at my reaction. I nod knowing it’s deserved. I thank her. I thank her cat. Both of them still cackling as I slip down the street. 

When I get home I take a shower. The sun did a number on my flesh. My clothes are sopping with stink. You can follow my trail to the shower like a slug. I’ll need a mop. Or a towel. Maybe a towel wrapped around a broom. All evidence must be erased. My wife will only worry. She’ll tell me I need to exercise. I’ll tell her I will. I’ll actually think that I will. But way back in my skull I’ll hear that little squeak of a voice saying I’ll do nothing. I’ll always do nothing. 

When I make dinner I cook to improve. Bad days can turn to decent nights. My wife and I take our plates to the sofa. The lighting is perfect. The meal doesn’t matter. Only to make the effect intoxicating. My cheeks flush sweat. My wife laughs at my reaction. I thank her and dab the drops across my face. I sense her laughter is a judgement of my character. I’m weak and she knows it. She knows that I know it. 

When I go to bed I leave my heart in the nightstand. I won’t need it tonight. Tonight will be bliss. I scan a book in a fog. My wife presses her feet against my thighs. I shudder at their frozen touch. She laughs at my reaction. So do I. So do we. But soon enough my eyes give up. I turn the light off and check my heart. It’s warm and comfortable. See ya in the morning, I say to my heart. Let’s hope so, my heart says to me. So I settle in and drift to sleep with my back against my wife’s back. Like two hands pressed together at the start of a prayer.

Jacob Hendricks lives in Portland, OR. He cuts fish for money.

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