'Every Breath We Take' by Al Kratz


You have to understand. It was Jolene’s idea to hide me in the attic. Such a problem solver, my girl. Her husband Buster was working late. He wasn’t supposed to come home. All clear, she had texted, always word efficient. Like when Buster shouted from downstairs: Surprise, Honey! I’m home! She only said: Wow! Then she sat up on the bed, got her knees solid, hands together, and formed a step. She didn’t say a word. I put my foot on her hands, and she flung me right up there. My head shot thru the attic cover, and just like that, I was hidden.
            I laid between two studs and tried to forget about Buster with my Jolene. The insulation was soft and inviting like her bed, although it would’ve probably been better if I wasn’t naked. My body was in trouble. It felt like a million hungry bugs crawling over me, little claws ripping skin, little razor teeth chewing me raw. I stuck my hand into my mouth and bit down, but couldn’t hurt my hand more than my legs. I cried a bit, and the tears tickled my face, so I moved to wipe them off, but I stubbed my toe on a stud and pierced my foot on a nail. I rubbed my eyes, thinking maybe if I were blind, things would get better. With the insulation on my hands, I might as well have shoved a broken bottle in there and ground it up to make sure the job was done. That’s when my body rocked back and forth, creating momentum like I was trying to tip a canoe. That’s probably when the drywall started to crack.
But you have to understand Jolene. How if you’d seen a single tear roll down her nose, you’d have fallen in love with her before the tear hit the floor. How her heart was like bone china: you didn’t know how the hell it was made, but you’d have done anything to keep it from breaking. How she usually looked at me like she wanted to hear my stories and hardly ever like she was plotting my death. How her dimples resolved any lingering doubts you might still be having. You have to understand all of that.
            And then the inevitable happened. Insulation, drywall, elbows, and knees. We just dropped from the ceiling. We fell in artificial slow motion and headed right for Jolene and Buster. Life is so beautiful. For a split second, I wasn’t hidden in the attic or on top of Buster, fighting to explain my presence. For a split second, I had the familiar feeling of being somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. I had the unfamiliar feeling of being suspended and freed at the same time, somehow able to hang on, knowing for sure, things were about to change.

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