By Babak Lakghomi - Jul 6, 2017
When I had invited the man to my room, I hadn’t expected him to show up with a woman. I had chewed up two pills beforehand, washed them down with a beer. I had kept the remaining two to share with him. Now, I would have to share them with the woman too.
The man, who had a hook for his right hand, stood next to the sofa and moved his arms in the air like a puppeteer. His arms moved faster when the woman walked to the window. With the woman’s lips touching the window pane, the man walked towards the window too, clasping his hook onto the woman’s collar.
When I put my lips beside the woman’s lipstick marks on the window, the man didn’t seem interested; perhaps he was done. I wanted the touch of the man’s hook. I kept my lips on the window, watched the frozen maple tree dance in the wind.
When the woman’s fingers reached to stroke the man’s face, the man jerked his head away. The woman bit her lower lip and gave me a look like it was my fault. I tried to remember if the man had told me anything about the woman before. I wanted to provide an explanation to the woman. I wanted to change how she felt.
I asked the man what was expected, but he shrugged.
The woman walked into the kitchen, and I could hear her opening and closing the fridge door. There was nothing in the fridge. I went to the kitchen and inquired whether the woman was looking for something, but she didn’t seem to understand. The man looked like he didn’t understand me either.
I soon found the man filling the bath, taking a loaf of stale bread out of his small sack and dipping it into the grey water. The man and the woman took turns biting into the bread, but they did not offer any of it to me. I was hungry and my eyes started to well up. Then, the man undressed and slid into the bath. His chest hair floated in the water. I didn’t remember him being so hairy, and now I wondered if he had undressed in front of me before. I felt like running my fingers through the floating hair. Would the woman allow me to touch him?
I didn’t want to hurt the woman; I didn’t want the man’s movements to change mine. It was the woman who took my hand and caressed my fingers. She put her lips on the nape of my neck. Her soft hair touched my shoulders.
The woman led me into the bath. Her eyes looked bigger now. The water was warm. My head lay on the same side as the man’s, his arm adjacent to mine. The woman’s toes tickled us. We watched her lungs rise with her breaths.
I could hear the blood thumping in our veins, the bath water rising with our heaving chests.
Babak Lakghomi’s debut novel will be published by Tyrant Books in 2018. His stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from NOON, Heavy Feather Review, and Necessary Fiction, among other places. He lives and writes in Toronto.