Chuck Young


I will notice her rings haphazard on the mantle. She’ll tell me that her fingers have gotten fat. I won’t want to say that her fingers aren’t fat because then it’ll look like I’m being controlling or insecure or jealous. She’ll hear, ‘Put your fucking rings on so that people know you’re mine.’ But I’ve also learned that when a woman says something about anything being fat, you say something to the effect of, no, they/you/it is/are perfect. I won’t know what to say. I’ll say, ‘Oh.’

She’ll keep burning the pancakes. I won’t know what to do. Besides sit at our small kitchen table. I’ll watch her break down while throwing black in the trash again and again; as she hits the Teflon with water again and again. I won’t know what to do. I’ll wait for my pancakes.

We’ll get back from the bar feeling amorous. I won’t be able to remember the last time we kissed each other’s mouths. We’ll still be attracted to each other. Or we’ll be drunk. It’ll get harder to tell. We’ll surrender in the front hall. I’ll be pushing her up against the door with the lower half of my body. We will pause long enough to struggle with keys and enter our apartment. While she’ll be taking a piss, I’ll pop a piece of gum in my mouth. I will have had a long enough pause from day drinking that my taste will have reminded her of a Steinbeck novel. Or of the American south in the early part of a century that is no longer mine. She’ll come into the bedroom and we’ll resume. She won’t like the gum and will tell me as much. I will be in the moment. I will swallow it and apologize. She will keep on about the gum. She won’t get past the gum. She’ll murder the spontaneity or I will. It’ll get harder to tell.

One night her and her friend will come home from out. I will have been sipping absinthe and listening to a friend cry. She will be wearing sunglasses. Her friend will be wearing a mask. I won’t smile or laugh. ‘Why are you so boring?’ her friend will say or she will. They will start doing shots. She’ll break one of the wine glasses. This will be the second one we’ve lost. We’ll be running out of wine glasses. She will fight with my friend about cleaning up the glass. No one will seem to like each other that night. Later my friend will tell me that her friend was just mad because she had blown him once. I won’t smile.

She’ll want to go to the house that her ex-boyfriend hung himself in. It’ll have been years. I won’t say no though I’ll know she’s lying to herself. One of her sister’s friends will live there now. Her sister will be there. She’ll say that she’ll just be gone a couple of minutes. That she’s not going to hang out with her little sister and her little sister’s friends. She’ll be gone for two hours. It’ll be midnight on a Tuesday. Later I’ll tell her that sometimes her attempts at escapism are unhealthy and misguided. She’ll ask for forgiveness. I won’t be able to say no.

One day she’ll tell me that she thinks the pills are working. Later after getting blown up on or broke down on, I will tell her that I don’t think so.

I won’t know what to say. I won’t know what to do. It’ll get harder to tell. I won’t smile. I won’t be able to say no.


Chuck Young is a ghost living in someone else’s house. He edits at theNewerYork.