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Lifesaver - Short Story by Jacob DeCoursey

I don’t think so.

Obviously you don’t know a lot of people.

I know lots of people. They’re pretty okay, I guess.

I mean really know them, like, what’s behind their eyes.

Her eyes looked puffy but were clear, like she’d been crying but not recently.

I try to believe everybody has their reasons, I said.

Isn’t that the trouble?

When my plate was empty, I asked her where she was going after this.

She said probably to wherever I was staying.

I said, Okay, and walked her to her car and got in. I’d never done it before. My knees shook the whole five minute drive.

When we got there, she asked me where the bedroom was, and I showed her. She asked me to wait a minute and shut the door. Some time passed, then some more, and when I reopened it, she was asleep. There was a prescription vial next to her hand with the name Denise on it.

Denise, I said.

She didn’t answer.

Denise, I said.

That isn’t my name, she said. It’s Macy. Stop yelling in my ear.

What did you do?

Everything feels sideways.

She put her arms around my neck.

What’re you doing?

Keeping from falling.

Ok, I said. Ok, let me help.

I put my arms around her neck too. An aroma of cigarettes permeated every nook of her body. I didn’t smoke. The smell turned me on.

I took one last puff and flicked away the butt.

“You don’t need to keep doing that” she said at last.

“Doing what?”

“Trying to help.”

She took my hand off her.

(You can’t always fix it, she’ll say.)

“You okay?”

(It happened. It’s not okay, but it happened, she’ll say.)

(I don’t like that you haven’t been around. I worry.)

(I just need time to myself.)

“Guess I’m freaked out,” she said.

(What should I do?)

What should I do?

(I don’t know.)

“I’m not sure,”

She started playing with her septum ring, moving it clockwise and counterclockwise with her thumb and middle finger, a nervous tick—something she’d do when bored or annoyed, then grabbed her whole face with a start.

“Wait, where’re my glasses?”

“Want me to go back and help you look?” I asked.

She pressed her palms into her eyes and growled.

“No. Just get the car. I’ll be out as soon as I can.”

I turned.

Hey, I said.

I love you, I told her, knocking the empty bottle of Fireball onto the floor, too drunk to think but thinking clear enough. I really fucking love you.

Alright, she said. Alright. Just stop, I don’t like it like this, please, get off me.

I just fucking love you. Say it back. You never say it back.

You’re leaning on me really hard, and it hurts.

If I go down on you, will you say it?

Not right now, please. I just want to go to bed now.

I just want you to say it. Let me go down on you so you’ll say it. It'll make it right, okay?

I don’t know what that means.

She tried to push me away, but I wrapped my arms tight around her.

I just want you to be right. It’ll be right if you do this, and I’ll have made you right, okay?

She didn’t answer, didn’t look back, so I just walked into the rain.

Above me, powerlines hummed over the low shout of distant thunder, and the droplets kept coming down. As I neared Macy’s car, my stomach growled so fierce. I climbed into the driver’s seat and sat in the car and wished for dryness. I remembered the half-eaten roll of lifesavers in my bag underneath the dashboard. (They’d suffice until I got home.) There’s a way to make everything right. There has to be. (The silence between us would suffice too.)

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