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Like a baby

funny short story: like a baby


She wakes up soaked.

Her apartment’s hot. She hasn’t changed the flannel sheets yet. Sweat, she thinks. Not hers; his: the boy she’s been seeing a few months, and with whom last night she’d shared a mashed-up kiss outside the bar and a raucous make-out session in the back of the cab that had brought them back to her apartment a few hours ago, when it had still been dark out and she had still had the last couple twenties she’d withdrawn from the ATM.

The money was gone. He’d always been cheap, but it hadn’t mattered. Not compared to how she felt about him.

She is surprised, putting her hand to the mattress, that her fingers come away wet. She brings her hand to her nose and breathes. Maybe she’s still dreaming; the ammoniac tang she smells couldn’t be what she thinks.

Could it?

The boy rolls over and grabs his balls, hanging out where she can see them. He exhales something dank, alcohol-heavy. She almost gags rolling out of bed; she awakens even more watching with sudden disgust the loose stream come burbling through his fingers and sopping the already piss-drenched mattress.

Jesus. Twice.

She watches until he’s finished, the puddle darkening. Her heart breaks; her disgust melts as he curls his lips and blows a child-like whimper in his sleep.

The first thing she thinks to do is go to the kitchen for the roll of paper towels. She brings the roll back to the bed and crushes it carefully to the mattress, turning it carefully so as not to wake him.

My big baby, she thinks, laughing a little.

Imagine: telling their kids about this when they first wet the bed!

Soon the roll is soaked; carrying it to the trashcan she nearly gags but manages to hold back. What next? A towel from the hamper? Her hair dryer?

Her dark jeans and blouse lay on the floor. Her boy’s pants make a loose pile in the lap of her bedroom’s only chair. He draped his white collared shirt over the chair back. In her hands it feels silky, new.

And heavy.

It pulses; he has tucked his cell phone inside the shirt’s breast pocket.

The phone slips into her hand, showing a photograph of some dark-haired smiling girl she doesn’t recognize—and a message eight words long that sledgehammers every single warm thought she’s ever had about him.

For a minute she stands idly at the edge of the bed, thrumming with shame, rage, and haplessness.

Then, in his sleep, the boy lifts to his face the hand he’d cupped his balls with.

She watches, momentarily stunned. Then it occurs to her to toss the shirt onto the damp mattress, hit the message feature on her—on the boy’s phone, and aim the camera lens at him just as he slips the tip of his glistening-wet thumb between his lips and, in a way that makes her smile despite herself, starts sucking.

Patrick M. Faller teaches writing at Kent State Tuscarawas. His stories and essays appear or are forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, Inwood Indiana, and Souvenir. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFaller >>
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