Lighting new cigarettes,
It has been a beautiful
The Shrinking Lover
My lover is shrinking more and more each day.
On the sixth day he was only three feet tall. You could barely make him out in a crowd. I had to adjust the chairs at the kitchen table so he could climb up on them. He is, often, very self-conscious of his size. He knows that within a few days he will be no more than a speck of dust left on the floor of our apartment. I put away the mops and the dusters, just in case.
* * *
The first time we met was at a strip mall where I worked. He was buying new shoes. I asked him his size. He said, “Nine.” My shrinking lover is now a mere size four, drastically different from the first time we met. I tell him I’ll always remember the number nine both as the first time we met and the person he was. He tells me not to think of who we were as what we are.
Nowadays we go to that same strip mall and sit on the benches, not buying a thing, but listening to strangers speak.
* * *
On the 13th day he wakes me up in the middle of the night. He says he needs a glass of water. I get it for him. He can’t reach the refrigerator anymore. I know that, in the morning, he will be shrunk down at least a few inches. I stretch my body to touch my feet to his underneath the sheets, to remind myself that skin can still wrap around itself.
* * *
The first time we made love my body prickled and pulsed under the weight of his. He was still bigger than me, broader. I was underneath covers because I was afraid of him seeing all of me. He pulled back the blanket and looked at my naked body underneath the light of a lamp.
* * *
Nowadays I wonder if anybody appreciates the blood leaking out of their own orifices, reminding themselves that their lovers could hurt them in such physical ways, bound by their own desire, pleading with themselves to stop the pain just long enough to release their own relief.
* * *
We speak of amusement parks. He is too small to ride a roller coaster. On the twelfth day he is just bigger than my arm. I am reminded of the times we would sit, cross-legged, on the cold floor of our bathroom, tracing the grime between the tiles, and we would think about losing.
“Losing something is just gaining something else,” he said.
“But why would you want to lose something you know to gain something you don’t know?”
Nowadays I memorize the ways people leave, so that one day I can do the same.
* * *
On the fifteenth day, my shrinking lover is just smaller than a newborn baby. I can no longer feel the weight of him lying on the bed next to me. In the early morning he asks me to take him to the front porch so I can hold him while he watches the sun rise with tiny eyes. Soon he will be too small to hold. Soon no one could touch him lest he would break.
I understood the part about breaking.
* * *
Twenty-one days later my shrinking lover has shrunk down to his smallest size. I know it’s his smallest size because it is the smallest he can go without not being seen completely. I put him in a Corningware dish and watch his tiny body float around. I can no longer see his sad smile. He looks up at me and says, with a slight laugh, “Have you grown?” He is merely a speck of dust now, and because it scares me, I throw out all the dusters and mops.
* * *
When he has disappeared completely I put away the Corningware dish and think about grime between bathroom tiles and strip malls with so little people in them. I think about size nine feet and making love in between soaking wet sheets, lovers with too much space in between them.