by Megan Messinger

She was turning into something without him. Her skin dragged under her fingers like an old rose petal, and sometimes she thought she felt him moving in her. That was vulgar, but when she really considered it, that was the phrase: moving in her. His eye drifting through her stomach, the brush of his hair up under her rib cage. She didn’t miss his body being next to hers; what she felt wasn’t the normal way of parted lovers. The TV told her about people who had twins they didn’t know about, twins they’d smothered in the womb and then engulfed. These people found themselves, at forty, with a necklace of baby vertebrae or tiny, barely-formed fingernails running down their backs.

Suddenly his hands flowered from her shoulder blades like wings, and she forgot about the TV and the little secret twins.

She saw her father trying not to notice, but he was dying and he could see everything that happened to her. Her sisters were nice.

“How is it, living there? With him?”

“It’s fine.”

“You can stay here with us, if you want. You know that.”

“I know.”

The feelings grew stronger as Tuesday approached, the day with the 4:53 train back to him. She ripped her room apart, looking for something that smelled like him, only to find that it was the little hollow on the inside of her wrist, and it must have been during the night from Sunday to Monday that her bones turned to marble. She lay in bed and thought of the delicate flutes on the columns of his house, listened to her bones clack together. That hurt, like a bite, and she found light fang marks on the insides of her elbows and over each knuckle.

“Too long,” she whispered to herself. “This was too long.”

Tuesday, 3:45, and her sisters were still in a dither over playing nursemaid. She tried to get out of bed to catch her train, but she knocked over the night-stand and her nose bled fresh, cold water with tiny goldfish in it. Her sisters didn’t notice, just put her back to bed and said they’d call him and say she wasn’t feeling well. She thought of the pond in his front garden and hoped the fish didn’t miss her. He couldn’t miss her; he was in her. She didn’t miss him, because there he was, hooking his claws around the backs of her arms and drawing her into his chest as 4:53 passed them by in a rush, taking the last of her rose-petal skin with it, and she curled flesh-to-flesh with him in the old, thick dark until he was gone.

Megan Messinger, a San Francisco native transplanted to New York, has recently published prose and poetry in Fablesthe Swamp, and Frothing at the Mouth, with a piece forthcoming in Aoife’s Kiss. She is currently resting up after her first year in hot pursuit of a BA in English.