by Roger Li
As the soft moonlight spilled into the room, the ridges, bumps, and scars coating her hand grew pronounced, exhibiting years of toiling despite her youthful face. The tip of her nose glistened ever-so-slightly from oils which had built up during her short stay. How could she have done this? Her skin appeared as if it was a plastic bag pulled tightly over her skull, the cheek bones swollen with no meat, and eye sockets shoved into her skull. Supple lips which used to embrace him had dried, flaking like a river-bed pounded by the heating sun. The chirps and rattles that filled the man’s entries had been replaced by a frozen, clay statue, speaking only the monotonous beeps of a machine.
The door was unbearably close, wafting towards his senses, enticing him to leave. He ran his eyes enviously along the smooth door handle, picturing his hands grasping it, freeing the anchor which held him down. It was only five feet away, begging him to drag his shot legs and bruised eyes out the drowning room. A woman’s voice weeped, deep, heart-wrenching tears outside the door in the distance, pleading for the man to leave. More and more voices cut through his thoughts: an entire carnival was frolicking. He licked his lips, running his tongue over the dead skin. It was a hopeful drug, something to grasp onto in the dark; the idea, that maybe, another soul would run their fingers lightly over his scars, and wet his covers as he laid.
But as he wrapped his fingers gingerly around the hand which had always squeezed back, he knew that he wouldn’t let go. The man ran his rough face over the small bumps and scars that had wiped his tears and cradled him to sleep. He slumped over onto the thin, white covers, letting wind from the open window glaze over his aching back. His lips pressed deep into her cheek until it met the bone. It was his stamp: a mark that could never be removed. The kiss would remain imprinted through rain, shine, or thunder. Nothing could wash it away. The man knew this. So, he dared to stand proud. He walked out the room, feeling the smooth ink dribble quietly over the paper.
He was leaving the room, but he would never leave her.
Roger Li is a high school student from the Chicagoland area. His works have been accepted into, Journal & Topics, Versification, JHHF Review, and Eskimo Pie Review, among others. He has a husky named Wilson from Texas.