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Glass

By
September 16, 2007

“But first,” she would say, searching along the floor for a pair of nylons, pulling them taut in her fists, “give me your hands.”

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The house’s windows were old, warped—nothing looked right through them.

He was curious enough to look it up on the Internet at the library, and he learned the wavy outside he and his girlfriend saw through the windows was caused not by the flow of glass over time—by years of a gradual, continuous, invisible trickle—but by the glass’ imperfections. A perfectly flat pane of glass, he found out, wasn’t invented all that long ago.

On Saturday nights, they would buy a big bottle of wine and a twelve-pack of Coors. They’d check out a movie from the library and watch maybe half of it, and then
they’d walk to the porn shop a few blocks away. They’d rent a movie, buy a toy.

She worked six shifts a week at the bookstore and complained about how much her feet hurt. “What twenty-one-year-old,” she said, “complains of sore feet? This is killing me.”

He worked with homeless men—took down their case histories, directed them toward community resources.

When their schedules didn’t keep them apart during the week, he told her he thought he was becoming addicted to sad, that some days he couldn’t get enough of it. “It has to be wrong,” he said. “I shouldn’t like this so much.”

On Saturday nights, they would buy a big bottle of wine and a twelve-pack of Coors. They’d check out a movie from the library and watch maybe half of it, and then they’d walk to the porn shop a few blocks away. They’d rent a movie, buy a toy.

On the way back, they’d stop in the park between the porn shop and the house with the old windows, and they would lie down in the grass. It would be dark save a distant streetlight or two, and they would feel the wind on the sides of their faces as they kissed. They would rustle leaves.

He would ask her to let him fuck her there in the park, and she’d say no, she couldn’t. He’d plead a little, beg, and then they’d head home, drink more, take the stairs up to bed.

Sometimes, he only wanted to use the new toy on her. “Just lie there,” he would say. “Pretend your hands are tied to the bed frame. Pretend you can’t move them.”

Sometimes, he only wanted to use the new toy on her. “Just lie there,” he would say. “Pretend your hands are tied to the bed frame. Pretend you can’t move them.”

Other times she would say, “It’s my turn,” and she’d grab one of the toys from the dresser. “But first,” she would say, searching along the floor for a pair of nylons, pulling them taut in her fists, “give me your hands.”

How many mornings did they come downstairs in that house—hungover, wiping the sleep from their eyes, forgetting they’d walked away from the park the night before with their pants still unbuttoned, forgetting they’d ever even been there?

How many mornings did they look through the downstairs windows—the world outside runny, imperfect—expecting to see something different, only to find a tree or two, some leaves, the neighbor walking his dog?

Chad Simpson lives in Galesburg, Illinois, where he teaches fiction writing at Knox College. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney’s, Sycamore Review, The Sun Magazine, and Avery: An Anthology of New Fiction. He can be reached at Sadchimpson.com.

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