Sunday Afternoon, Pudendae Ablaze / 23 August 1998

This was Vivian: “Come over here. My stump is aching.”

This was Marko: “Thirteen thousand people dead! Thirteen thousand! And it’s here on page three?

Vivian leaned her head way back so the ends of her hair could tease her back. “Come here. Let me tell you what I would do if I had my hand.”

“Someone dropped a vial, Viv,” Marko said, slapping the paper in disbelief, slap. “Honey, get this: A vial with some virus in it, someone was carrying it, like, across the room, or… They never paint the full picture. Reporters are so lazy these days.”

“Honey, pleeeease, pleeeeease. It’s unbearable, seriously.”

Marko allowed the corner of the paper to dip, giving him a clear shot of Vivian. “Hon? This room is full of death. A room full of death always spoils it for me. You know that.”

Vivian was grinding her teeth. Her sinuses felt like they were full of nitrous oxide. Sweat was pooling in every crevasse.

“You’re not kidding around,” Marko said.

“No, I’m not. Those thirteen thousand people lit a fire under me.”

“That’s a big fire.”

“It’s a hot fire, honey,” Vivian said. “It’s like blowtorch hot, not like regular campfire hot.”

Marko folded up the newspaper, watched as the ink rubbed off onto his fingers.

“It’s a big glans, this thing. My own heartbeat is killing me, killing me full-on dead.”

It wasn’t like he moved over to her, it was more like the living room collapsed, the floor fell in, and suddenly they were thrown together. He hesitated, then traced a tiny trail of newspaper ink along her stump. Their mouths met and it suddenly seemed like a foolish and immature idea that they’d ever been apart.

Joshua Green Allen

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