Her body, both so new and so rotten, lay curved in the afterglow of the ambient light from the television the way an earthworm looked after you left it in a glass of water for a few days; all white and bloated with curiously soft skin. The type of skin you’d normally associate with a newborn baby, although neither the worm nor the woman on the bed represented anything so pure. Neither was filled with the promise of a future.
I smiled as she mumbled incoherently. That meant she was still alive. Good. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if I should roll her onto her side. I vaguely recalled hearing that you could choke on your own vomit if you were face down. Or was that face up? I couldn’t remember and didn’t care. The slope of her back rising and falling in tandem with the hammering of my own heart had me transfixed.
I wanted to trail the tips of my fingers down each protruding vertebrae, lingering over the two dimples on her lower back as if they were pristine. Those indentations were woman, and drew my eyes further to the smooth curve of her sagging buttocks. What a shame I thought.
I took in the sight of my own body cast in the wake of the dim lighting. My arms were covered in a myriad of bruises and open sores, scratches and punctured veins. Maybe there were a couple areas I could work on. My abs could be tighter I thought as I lit the pipe. The smoke burned. It filled me in a way no wine, no family, no friends, no love ever could. I was literally burning with life until I watched it flow out of my nostrils as death. I watched the way death danced and moved, performing complicated Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant in mid air, before leaving like everything worth living for does. Only I knew it was never really gone.
I tapped the ashe into a cracked ceramic lid I used as an ashe tray. It was hideously ugly, but like the woman lying on the bed, worth using on occasion.
It was close to the midnight hour.