Storyglossia Issue 18, February 2007.

A Detached Observer

by Mary Miller


I get off work early and go over to his house. He's out back in the dark with a pair of binoculars in his lap. "Stars pulse," he says. "Planets don't. That's how you can tell them apart." From down here everything seems to pulse but I don't say that. He has recently discovered how far away the sun is, how fucking far away, or maybe he knew all along but didn't care before.

"Let's swim," he says.

We strip off our clothes, bound down the steps and into the pool. I grab onto the diving board and pull myself up, but it doesn't matter that I'm beautiful, doesn't change the way he sees me.

"Nice tits," he says.

"I'd fuck me," I say. Then I do flips until I'm dizzy. I untuck myself and float on my back while the stars crawl across the sky and the world straightens itself back out. He gets out of the pool, jogs up the steps and into the house. He stays gone for a few minutes, plenty of time to make a phone call, for instance, and returns with a pint of whiskey.

"You try too hard," he says, sitting on the steps in the shallow end, his penis bobbing in the water like a cork. He takes a hard pull as if this distance is my fault. I don't say anything because I can't think of any way to win this conversation and there is certainly no way for me to win him, so I swim butterfly from one end of the pool to the other, displacing as much water as I can, while he watches me.

Copyright©2007 Mary Miller