Saturday 24 June 2023

'Dojo' by Sandra Jensen

You asked him, Do you still love me? He couldn’t, wouldn't reply. The sound of tears got lost in the white noise of the shower. Hair stuck to your face in an unbecoming way. Perhaps your nose ran. You don't remember. It usually does, when you weep like that. He looked grey and hammered, as if he’d barely survived a fight. You wished you could take the question back. You had not expected his answer, you were counting on his lies. I have to get to class, he said, leaving you, not looking at you. Already the guys were knocking on the door, fists waiting to clasp wooden knives and kali sticks or a boxing glove. You heard him open the door, you heard him say, Hey man, how’s it? You got dressed. You waited until the blood drained from your eyes. Hi everyone, you said, hand raised in a little wave as you walked quickly through the dojo to the bedroom with its Caribbean blue floor. You’d painted it yourself and when it was dry he’d taken a self-timed photograph of the two of you, one on top of the other, black, white and sea-blue. Your hair, his hair, the floor. He pinned it to the wall, Just like Bruce and Linda Lee, he grinned, mouth crowded with shark’s teeth. Far more beautiful than Bruce Lee. You shut the bedroom door. You studied your long toes. You listened to the sound of punching. Later, when you were curled around him, one arm underneath his body, you listened to the sound of his breathing. You kissed the part of him that pressed against your lips. Your throat hurt. You wanted him to say something but he fell asleep and although your arm was going numb you did not wake him.


First published in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Winter 2010.

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