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6

The Kumquat

Margot lies on her bed under a pile of comforters and blankets, her arms pressed into her sides.  She is warm, and sleepy. She remembers the first day she slept in this bed. The salesman had helped James secure the mattress to the roof of his Accord with yards of rope and duct tape, and she drove slowly up Union Turnpike, while James sat in the backseat and gripped the mattress through the window to keep it from shifting. Other drivers honked at her the whole way. That night they ate pizza on her living room floor, and later, after she’d made the bed with her freshly-washed white flannel sheets, he followed her to her room. She hadn’t reminded him to bring the condoms with him.

 She thinks the memories of that night are probably hazy for him now. Nearly the entire season of autumn has passed. His girlfriend had been on a business trip during that week, so he’d spent it with Margot.  She hasn’t seen him in two weeks, though he had sent flowers to her job that day. The tangle of sunset-colored gladiolas is on her dresser now, watching her.

 Her hands drift to her belly. Her flesh is firm where it was once dense softness. Her skin is damp with sweat. She imagines that the thing inside her is about the size of a kumquat. She sees this kumquat, tiny and orange, in the palm of her hand. She can eat it whole. She can bite into it. She can chew the skin and the rind and the flesh slowly, taste their tartness on her tongue. She can make the kumquat disappear.

 James. Will he be happy?  He wants a family. She is lonely and wants him next to her. The flowers are not enough. 

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Assignment 2

It starts, on a humid night, like this:  rum over ice with a splash of sickly-sweet Coke. Jokes. Laughter. A whisper.  “You should come on a ride with me.” Hesitation. His girlfriend is here. Motorcycles are dangerous. Something in his eyes warns you away. The smile on his full lips begs you to join him. You protest. “I’m wearing a dress. I like my life.” Another drink and you change your mind. You straddle the motorcycle and lean into him. He smells like incense and regret. “Now hold onto me like you love me,” he says. So you wrap your arms around him and press your fingers into his skin. His scent is all around you. He is the one you want.

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