Relationship Status, Tenth Month by Matthew Smart

During sex neither of them said much. But afterwards she would sometimes talk in strange nonsense strings of words, random and unrelated. If it was good she could go on for a long time, her eyes closed, her mouth rambling and running through a litany of nonsense. The first time it happened he thought that maybe he’d broken her. The thought filled him with a sense of great power, but also concern and a little fear. He tried talking back to her, but his sentences were ignored. His questions bounced away from her. Her logic dodged his. He was too structured for her: she was a skipping stone, he was the tenuous tensile skin of the water. Eventually her rant would stop and she would excuse herself to the bathroom or sometimes leave the apartment entirely. Even when they didn’t fuck she kept him awake with confusion. She wouldn’t speak but she stayed up late reading. He tried to sleep, his arm or a stifling blanket tossed over his eyes. He’d ask her to turn the light off but again she wouldn’t hear, his voice wasn’t admitted entrance to her attention. Her silences angered him, reminded him of the nights when she had laid silent after sex. He thought everything was a judgment on him. He worked over all the problems of then, while she sat and read late into the night filling herself with other people’s words until she was bursting inside.

Matthew Smart lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he works as an information technology analyst. His writing has appeared in Vestal Review, Dead King Magazine, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Unbroken Journal, Smokelong Quarterly and elsewhere.