Fiction from Melissa Goode

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Pretenders

The water rushes to our feet, creeping up our ankles, and disappears again. Gravity shifts, the ground flying away from beneath us. I lean on your arm. It is the first time I have touched you in ninety-six days and the blood surges below your skin. It does. What I mean is—I can feel you. The waves are rimmed silver-white. They flash and flare as they rise and crash. I haven’t let go of your arm. Not yet. I hum that song by the Pretenders, “I’ll Stand By You,” and you laugh, thank fuck. A seagull hovers over us, squawking, as if we have food we are not giving over. It swoops higher and then plunges towards the waves. “Can you stop the fucking humming?” you say. I lift a microphone and sing, directing the song straight to you. You drag me close, pulling my head to your chest, stifling me. I press my face harder against your sternum. Here. Here is the place. Your hand moves down my hair, feather-light, and maybe you don’t want me to feel you doing this. You sing from the Pretenders’ “Hymn To Her.” Jesus, that song. Here we go, lying beside each other, down on the floor, and it is not lost on me—she will always carry on. I breathe you in deep, deeper. Fill me up. The film starts, stuttering light, the reel beginning when you put your arm, warm, alive, around my shoulders for the first time. Is this the film you see too when you close your eyes? The water submerges our feet, ankles, rising to our knees, our hips. It does not stop. I listen for what you might say—it starts with Honey, Baby—but I cannot hear you anymore. The waves are so loud. They boom.
.

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Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in WigleafSmokeLong QuarterlyWhiskeyPaperSplit Lip MagazineForge Literary Magazine, and matchbook, among others. Her story “It falls” (Jellyfish Review) was recently chosen by Aimee Bender for Best Small Fictions 2018 (Braddock Avenue Books). She lives in Australia. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter

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