Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Dream When You're Old

By Nick Ostdick

Dream when you're old. Good things. Great things. Old friends. New sex. The long yellow lights and winged men carrying Me off to space. Pink Christmas trees and grass that tastes like candy, and sleeping pills that seemed to cure all the aches But. I can't dream of those things now. Not without You.

We were young once. We were milk and cookies and used to play house. We didn't know anything about almost everything, and that was fine. It was second grade, I think. Yeah, that's right, second grade. You told me you loved Me. We laughed. I bought You a giant glass marble. You said we were engaged. You laughed.

High school, freshman year, pornos and erections and things of that nature. You told Me You loved me again. Is this for real? Yes, it was. I bought You a cheap brass ring from the antique store in town. Used to belong to a dead person. Kiss kiss kiss on the kitchen floor next to Your mother's pots and pans. Kiss kiss kiss outside in the bushes. Your dog barked at Me while I unsnapped Your bra.

Some late autumn night while trees stood naked and blushing. The two of us were in your bedroom, swiping and sucking at Your old man's rum. Two naked bodies, and oh God did You look good. I love You. I love You too. Flaming rug burns from the carpet scorched our bottoms good. Fucking hard in the attic. Fucking hard in the bushes and the backseat of My car. All of it good fucking. All of it sweet, like honey-crusted chicken over a thick marsala sauce and a bottle of red wine while two people sit in the dark by the light of TV not talking on their anniversary—something so peaceful and familiar about that I laugh but feel as though I should cry.

Months go by after the Fuck. No one bleeds. No one in fact bleeds. Your mother asked You why? Your father asked You when? There were no good answers; no good lies. Your stomach soon tattled on us. 'Not enough money for babies! Not enough money for babies!' What would the neighbors say? What would the neighbors do?

The car seat was cold. Colder than cold—we could see our breath. You said we couldn't run around anymore. Why? Because of all this, you said.   It was too much; it was all too much. The room was a sick shade of white; their clothes were white too. The note you left your folks was white—white paper with cheap black ink on it cutting through the white. It was done by mid-day. You were empty. We were empty. Some air had been let it.

We parted like the sea, except I wasn't Moses and You weren't my followers. We went to college. Separate, but college all the same. People we used to know back home starting dying or getting married. I wrote You letters. Did You ever get them? I met a girl. Name of Samantha. Really nice. Sturdy. Dependable. She didn't fuck in the bushes. She didn't fuck in the kitchen. She didn't fuck at all.

My wedding night, I made a long distance phone call. My change was getting eaten up. A few rings in You answered. You sounded pretty, like a razor through the leaves. I told You I was selling laundry detergent. A nice cover.   You said You didn't need any, that Your husband keeps You nice and clean. An audible wince on my end of the telephone wire. Do You still fuck in the bushes, I asked. Do You ever fuck in the attic? Who is this, you say. Who the hell is this? I watched the phone dangle from the receiver.

Years upon years later now. The days stacked like books on top of each other. I'm in my red robe staring at Your house, which is also red. The green grass looks like my skin. I went out for milk two weeks ago. Got drunk. Slept with a working woman named Brittany. Your lawn gnome stares at me. Your dog barks at Me while lying chained under a tree. I pet the lawn gnome and kiss the dog. He bites My hand and it bleeds some. Ring the doorbell. DING DONG. You answer. Your face is old, but Your hands look exactly the same. Do you remember me? I hope so.


Nick Ostdick is a fiction writer from the Chicago area. He is the author of the novel Sunbeams and Cigarettes (2005), and the forthcoming chapbook of shorts Periscopes. His short works have appeared in the likes of Word Riot, The2ndHand, Cautionary Tale, Ward 6 Review, and others.

Photo "Lips 2" courtesy of Hannah Boettcher, U.S.

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