MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Death of Salome by Kristina Gehrmann

Fiction
Vultures

A.P. Nala

The vultures fly overhead, retracing the same perfect circle they have been carving out of the sky for days. Miles below, in the centerpoint, he is contemplating his hands while sitting on an improbable rock in the middle of the desert. He is battle-weary and clothed in heavy armor. Save the vultures, no being is within sight. He sits in the company of his honor.

* * *

Drew willed himself to be present in the moment, but was failing miserably. The words disintegrated into meaningless sounds, bouncing around in the empty, metallic walls of his consciousness.

He was sure he should be able to understand what she was saying.

“Listen, I know it’s been hard, and I know you need time to figure it out—

What was he doing here? Why was this conversation happening? He had everything.

House, wife, two kids, dog – no, screw the dog. He hated that damn thing. But he had it all. The dream. The picket fence.

“I can help you. Please let me help you. We’re in this together.”

Picket Fence. It was a goal. It was his goal. He was a fool.

“It just makes me crazy that you don’t understand that this marriage is about you and me, facing life together. “

Picket fence.

“You’ve always been that way. You think you have to face every problem on your own. But that’s not what makes a man, Drew.”

The couch cushions became pink succulent lips, pursed and ready to suck soda through a straw, but sucking him in instead, into a barren world of darkness and springs. Only one, terrible way out.

PICKET FENCE PICKET FENCE PICKET FENCE!!! His entire body stuttered with the vehemence of the thought.

“What?” she asked.

Shit. Did he just say that out loud?

“Nothing, I, uh, didn’t mean to say anything,” Drew stuttered.

“You didn’t say anything just now. You just…jumped or something. Are you okay?”

“Listen, I just need to be alone for a while,” he looked up just in time to catch the hurt in her eyes before it was masked by some dark, terrible thing. “Baby. Please. Please don’t be upset. I just need to walk this off. I just...please,” he asked plaintively.

“Fine,” she said, but he knew she was gone already. Entered some new fortress in her heart. He knew because some part of him, hidden in some deep, dark recess, felt the ache of her retreat.

Drew grabbed his coat and walked out the door.

* * *

Anne sat cross-legged at the edge of the bed, her gaze directed at the hotel room door. She did not move save to breathe. A Parvati praying for her Shiva. Only this time the story would end much differently.

She knew what she would tell him when he came in. She had weighed every word, measured each outcome, tested and retested until she had written the perfect script.

She hadn’t prepared for her own emotional heckling while she rehearsed, but she continued to stumble forward, hoping that when it counted, she could make it all the way through.

Deep breath. Final rehearsal.

“Drew,” she began, “I can’t do this anymore.” Always start strong. “This thing we have, it’s nothing, just a moment we can’t get out of.”

He materialized in front of her, looking at her in pain and surprise.

“You have your wife and your kids.”

He reached for her. His fingertips grazed her hips as his lips moved closer. She was hypnotized by those lips.

NO.

“I have nothing. Nothing but you. And this isn’t even real because we can’t let it be real. Because you have a life outside of me.”

His lips were crushing hers. Heat radiated from her core. Her ears were burning and so were here toes. Her fingers gripped his shirt.

“I’m putting my whole life on hold for this. But for you, this is just a pit stop, a distraction, because you have something real to go back to.”

Suddenly her legs were bare, and wrapped around his waist. They collapsed into the bed. She reveled in the weight of him crushing her and the scent of him bathing her. One being. One tangled mess of a being.

“Oh God,” the words rode their way out of her body in a sea of sobs.

She would sob again later: in his arms while his own tears silently crowned her; after he had walked in and sat down next to her; after he had said that she deserved better than this; that he needed to focus on his family; that she had so much going for her, so much to go after, so much to live for; “No one deserves to be trapped like this.”

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