On the hottest day, she sat in the bare front room of the house, facing west, looking into the ball of the sun. She wore nothing but a silk slip that clung to her damp skin. Sitting in the one hard chair, she could see herself in the reflection from the window, frowning and headachey. In the darkness behind her, away from her bright square of sun, he was standing in the doorway.
She often did this, on the hottest days. Drenching herself in the sun, suffering too much, feeding her experience. She wanted to remember, to make these hours part of her. She was drawn to this, an airless room in the eye of a stifled heat.
She ran a hand down her thigh, smoothing the pale silk. He was behind her. “You used to be so close,” she said. “I used to wear you, next to my skin.” A bead of sweat ran down her neck and settled in the hollow of her throat. The empty room was inverted in its convex lens.
“But now…” her voice trailed off. Her hands rested on her knees. “Now I can’t tell which side of my skin you’re on.”
Behind her, he moved. She could see his reflection, the white face and blue shirt. She could smell his sweat as he stirred the air. He held a beer, as he always did at this time of the afternoon, cold and wet from the freezer. And suddenly he pressed the bottle to the bare skin at the nape of her neck.
A shock, a thrill, a jolt of ice pierced her. Transfixed, she closed her eyes, stiffened her back and gulped at the warm air.
He retreated, his eyes caressing her as he moved away, wordlessly, to the shadow. She opened her eyes and stood up, gracefully gaining her feet in one fluid movement. She turned her back to the window and walked towards the closed door, where his blue shirt draped from the hook like a hanged man.