Carpet Burn by Wilson Koewing

Maybe it had been six months since I followed you out west. Maybe it had been nine. We lived in the little apartment overlooking main street in that sleepy mountain town. I’d watch cars pull to a stop at the light outside the window and think, what the fuck am I doing here? You sold your car to pay for school, so I drove you to class each morning. I took a job I hated in a kitchen. You went to bed early. I got home late. You made new friends and grew. I actively disengaged. You met a former soap opera star and an Olympic skier. Couples with their lives together. I spent time with line cooks and befriended the guy who worked the late-night shift at the liquor store. You wrote names of hundreds of body parts on flash cards to study. I drove to Wyoming or out into the Rockies to hike alone. The winter was brutal. Shorter days than we were used to. The colder the darkness grew, the deeper I sank into the night. Drinking on the couch while you slept twenty feet away. Our sex life was dead by then. We’d lived months in that apartment and only once. That night after we went to that brewery that only took cash. We tore at each other’s clothes and had sex on the living room carpet. My knees stung from carpet burn for days, but I welcomed the pain. A month later I knew for sure. I stepped into the bedroom as you were going to bed. I kissed you but you weren’t into it. We laid there rigid, nervous and silent for a long time. Eventually we started to make out, but it quickly became clear that whatever exists between people in love was no longer present between us and we stopped. You sat straight up and laughed in disbelief, clutching the covers. I went back to the living room and sat on the couch and opened a beer. I stared at the TV but didn’t turn it on. Reflected lights from the cars passing outside slid across the screen. Everything was quiet. It was like we’d been turned into mannequins, but whoever did it forgot to remove the parts that caused us to remember how things felt back when we were real. 

Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His work is forthcoming in Cowboy Jamboree, Autofocus Lit, Cypress Press, Rejection Letters, X-R-A-Y, Maudlin House and Gargoyle.