We All Yearn for Defenestration

My boyfriend and I were this close to finally having sex.  We were both in our boxer briefs, and I could feel how hard he was through the fabric.  He was lying on his bed, and I was lying on him.  While I kissed him at the tender spot under his jaw where blood beat from his brain to his heart and back, he did this thing with his hands where he pressed his fingers into my spine and then drew them out in an arc beneath my scapulae, like he was giving me a deep tissue massage.  He let out a sharp groan when my fingers poked into his underwear and felt at the thicket of his pubic hair.  His breathing was shallow and hard and throaty.  But then he lifeted his hands and said, “I need to tell you a thing.”

I blinked at him.  The lights were off, but the glow from a streetlamp outside his house bled through the blinds.  He’d inherited an absurdly chic Craftsman bungalow from his parents, all sharp gables and sloped roofing with huge double-hanging windows in the front sitting room.  My boyfriend was just as chic, and the most handsome man I’d ever seen nearly naked: his hair was sandy and thick and always tangled when he met me early in the morning to go jogging.  He had pale jade eyes, like most of the color had been scrubbed away by an eraser, and his jaw ended in a pointed, cleft chin.  I was convinced, all the time, that I’d seen his face in glossy magazine spreads, but this made him laugh and remind me that he was an English teacher.  That’s what he called himself—not college professor but English teacher—which made me want him more.

“A thing?” I said.  I propped myself up by my hands, hovering over him.

“If we’re going to do this, I kind of need you to do something first.  Or during.”

“Like what?”  I leered at him, trying to make my voice sexy.

“Throw me out the bedroom window.”

Some noise sputtered out of me, a horrific combination of a cough, a cry, a laugh.

“Don’t worry,” he said.  “It’s not a long fall, and you don’t need to push me hard.  Just a little nudge.  The bushes are thick and soft.”

“Is this like a fetish?”

He thought about this, as if the idea hadn’t occurred to him.  “If that makes it easier to imagine doing it, then yes.”

I crawled off him and gestured toward the window.  “I guess.  Okay.”

“Don’t worry,” he said again, even though I like to think I wasn’t acting worried.  I wasn’t asking questions, even though I probably should have been.  “I already took the screen out.”

He launched himself off the bed and padded to the window.  His lower back was, in my estimation, his best feature, a scoopy slide of muscle that cleft into strong butt cheeks.  I could tell he used that one machine at the gym where you’re on your knees and you push one foot back into a stirrup; he had well-formed upper glutes.  I watched him open the window, sending a spume of chilly night air in.  He leaned over and pressed his hands to the sill and canted his head out.  I didn’t move.  I liked looking at the lines of his arms and the backs of his shoulders.

“Ready when you are,” he said.

“I’m just taking in the view.”

“Sooner is better than later.”

“Don’t you want it to be a surprise?  Like, you shouldn’t know when I’m going to push you out, right?”

“It’s more about the falling than the shoving.”

“Will I need to go downstairs and let you in?”

“Well I’m not hiding a spare key in my underwear.”

“Alright, alright,” I said.  “Here goes.”

I stepped behind him and put my hands on his back.  His skin was still hot from being sandwiched between me and the bedspread.

“You sure we can’t fool around more first?”

“The sooner you push me, the sooner we fool around a lot.”

“I’m not sure I can do this,” I said.  “What if you land wrong and you die and I go to jail?”

“I won’t die.  It’s like twelve feet.”

“Or what if you’re paralyzed and have to use a wheelchair and we never do have sex after all?”

“We never will have sex if you don’t push me.”

“I really like the way your skin feels,” I said, running my hands up to his neck.  “And I’m not just saying that.”

He peeled one hand from the windowsill and reached around to take mine.  “That’s sweet.  Now will you just push me?”

“I’m not sure if I can.  I really, really want to have sex with you, but I don’t know if I can do this.”

“The two go together.  That’s how it has to be.”

“Couldn’t I just push you onto the bed?  If you close your eyes, you might not know the difference.”

“I’m telling you,” he said, sighing, “it’s fine.  Just do it.”

So I did.

I didn’t push him very hard, but he wasn’t expecting it.  I pressed my palms against him as if I was shoving a weight sled that wasn’t very heavy.  He let out a little noise—I couldn’t tell if it was shock, surprise, or pleasure—and out he went.  My boyfriend must have helped himself along, because there was no way I gave the push enough gumption to actually send him toppling out the window, but he must have sensed my reticence and realized he was getting the best he could.  Down he went, into the darkness.  I heard a floof-ish noise, then heard my boyfriend call my name.

He was splayed on his back in the sprinter boxwood below, staring up at me.  His arms flashed pale in the moonlight.

“Are you dead?” I said.

“No,” he said.  “Content.”  He pulled his hands in and fiddled with the elastic band of his underwear.  “That was fantastic.”

“We haven’t done anything yet.”

“Open the front door and we will.”

I scrambled out the room, my feet pounding on the hardwood.  I nearly tripped and tumbled down the stairs.  When I yanked the front door open, my boyfriend was already stepping out of his underwear.  Our mouths crashed together and we stumbled, a mess of saliva and hands, back up to his bedroom.


“Hang on,” he said two nights later.  We were at my apartment, and my mouth was on his navel.  I was about to unbuckle his belt.

“What?” I said.  “What’s wrong?”

“You know.”

“I do not know,” I said, dropping my hands to my sides.  I leaned back on my knees.  My boyfriend’s head lolled back and forth on my pillow.

“We’ve been over this,” he said.  “You know what I need.”

“Again?” I said.  “I thought that was a one-time deal.”

He shook his head.  “It’s an ongoing thing.”

“But we’re on the third floor.  There’s no comfy brush to break your fall.”

He sighed.  “Why don’t we just cuddle, then?”  He slapped at the space beside him and made a cubby out of his arm.  “Come here.”

“You really can’t manage without falling out a window?  How do you jerk off?”

“I need to be thrown, pushed.  And I guess I just don’t.”

I tumbled onto the bed, my head pressed against his shoulder.  My boyfriend smelled like vanilla rum; we’d been at a bar, but he’d been drinking beer.  His odor was always a mystery, like, apparently, many other things I thought I knew about him but didn’t.

“So we just, like, lie here?  You don’t want to mess around?”

“I do want to.  But I’ll disappoint you.”

I rubbed my eyes with the palms of my hands.  “I can’t believe this.  I can’t believe that you can’t have sex otherwise.”

He kissed me on the cheek, a chaste gesture one saves for a plump aunt.  My boyfriend’s breath was warm and minty; he chewed lots of gum and had unpacked a spare toothbrush in my bathroom.

“I’m curious,” he said.

“Oh?”  I wriggled a hand into his underwear, which he promptly extracted.  I frowned.

“You’ve never asked why I need to be thrown out a window.”

“Oh.  I just assumed it had to do with some kind of traumatic experience when you were younger.  Maybe you were abused or something.  Or you had homophobic parents who threw you out in a fit of rage when you told them you liked boys.”

He laughed.  I loved my boyfriend’s laugh, the real one.  He had several fakes, breathy chuckles that came out as little puffed pockets of air with almost no noise.  His real laugh was a sharp bark, a sound he half-swallowed as it came out, as if he was physically incapable of letting the entire thing go.  I knew it was real because it sounded too obviously fake to be fake.

“No,” he said.

“So then why?”

He shrugged.  “I don’t actually know.”

“Have you tried having sex without first being thrown out a window?  Like, ever?”

“The first time I had sex, yeah.”

“Tell me how that went.”  My hand wandered back toward his underwear.  When he let me slip one fingertip into the elastic, I added another, and then another, my fingers dipping in all the way to the second knuckle.  He had a faraway look on his face, so I just let my hand sit there against the lower curve of his hipbone and the tender edge of his thigh, blipping out nonsense Morse Code.  If he felt it, or read some message I didn’t even know I was delivering, he didn’t let on.

He sighed.  “Not well.  But that might have been because I wasn’t attracted to her.”

I sat up.  “Your first time was with a girl?”

“Wasn’t yours?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So then?”

“You’ve just never told me yours was too.”

“You hadn’t asked.”

I swallowed a hard, empty breath.  “I guess I hadn’t.  I’m sorry.  I should ask you more things.”

“That’s okay.  I should just tell you.”

I pressed all of my fingers into his leg.  My boyfriend’s skin was shockingly smooth; he claimed that he just didn’t have much body hair, which was okay with me.  He was slick and feathery, and this appealed to me, aesthetically.  His clean-shaven face always reminded me of a Gucci model or a Christian Dior cologne advert.  I pulled my hand from his underwear and stroked his chin.

“Maybe I should try it.”

“Try what?” he said.

I fluttered my hand toward my window.

My boyfriend sat up and blinked at me.  “Are you serious?”

“Maybe not here.  Maybe at your place.  Maybe from the first floor.  Just a little tip backward to see how it feels.”

He smiled.  He kissed me, hard, his tongue thick and warm in my mouth, glossing my teeth.  That was all we did that night, but I fell asleep with my head on his chest, where I could hear everything inside him moving fast.


My least favorite question was, “How did you two meet?”  I found origin stories boring, and so when my boyfriend, talking about his writing, said the same, I nearly jumped his bones.  We were in a coffeeshop, so I didn’t, but I said, “Me too,” so loudly the baristas stopped their work pouring lattes and foaming milk and scooping scones into crinkly paper bags and blinked at me.  I blinked back and sipped my chai tea before swiveling back to my boyfriend.  He wasn’t really my boyfriend yet, as we had only gone on a handful of dates and hadn’t committed to one another in any way, made no offers of fealty or monogamy, but I was already thinking of him in this way.  I was thinking lots of things about him, like how much I wanted to undress him, the fact that his fitted polo shirt was the perfect size on him, revealing his musculature but not in that squeezed-in-a-sausage-casing kind of way.  I was sure I’d never seen another person wearing such a perfect green shirt before.

“I try to never write flashbacks,” he said.

“Could I read something of yours?” I said.

He turned sheepish; I could tell because his lips curled up on the left side, a tell I’d come to know meant I’d said something that made him uncomfortable.  “I could send you a link.  They’re not published anywhere prestigious.”

“But you have a book.”

“A short book.  It didn’t get many reviews.”

“I haven’t written any books,” I said.

“It’s not as hard as you think.”

“But to write a good book, I bet.”

“Definitely harder than you think.”

I laughed.  He smiled.  I sipped my tea and said, “I bet yours is a good book.”


“Are you sure about this?” my boyfriend said.  He set his hands on my bare shoulders.

“Oh yes,” I said.  “Yes I am.”  I could hear the lie in my voice and my boyfriend, who told lies for a living (I read his students’ papers sometimes when they lay scattered about and regularly questioned his grading scale), could surely hear it.  I looked out the window into the dark; I could smell the evergreen trees that lined his house, and I could see the vague blob of the sprinter boxwood below the window; because we were on the first floor, I could reach out and touch the bush if I wanted, but I didn’t.  My boyfriend had removed the window screen, and it leaned against the wall next to us.

This, I told myself, was nothing.  It was hardly a hop.  But I had trouble jumping into pools, my brain always wracked by images of cracked skulls and broken ankles.  I took a deep breath before prying my fingers off the windowsill and waggling them into the night like a swimmer letting loose any last nerves.

“Okay,” I said.  “Do it.”

“You’re positive.”

“Yes,” I said.

My boyfriend pushed me, hardly a nudge.  His fingers were little flashes of heat-pressure.

I didn’t move except to rock forward the tiniest bit.

“Harder,” I said.  I took a deep breath.  “I think I might need you to actually launch me out.”

“Then duck your head,” he said.  “I don’t want to give you a concussion.”

“That’s sweet,” I said, turning to look at him.  We were both in only our underwear, and his body was, somehow, even leaner than it had been just days ago.  I wanted to lick him somewhere, anywhere, but I knew that would lead nowhere until this window business was taken care of.  I turned back to the window and cantilevered myself out so my head and chest were hanging out over the bush.

And then he shoved me, hard.

My knees scraped the windowsill; I wasn’t prepared to hop out, tuck my legs up toward my chest, as my boyfriend would later advise I should have done while he applied hydrogen peroxide to my abraded skin.  I toppled forward, yelping, and my hands pressed into the boxwood, the tender flesh of my palms scraping against the scratchy, plasticine buds before my entire body crushed against it.  My face scraped against its slanted surface and I slid down it onto the ground, the bush raking my chest.  My knees clopped into the grass.

“Oh jeez,” my boyfriend said.

I twisted around, my mouth tinny, and looked up at him without acknowledging the pain throbbing through my entire body.

“I’m fine,” I said.

But I was more than that, though I didn’t say so.  The fall had been short, hardly a blip, a single breath’s worth of distance, but something had slid out of me as I toppled onto the boxwood, a little heave of weightlessness crowding in and pushing my fear, my worry, away.  I lay on the ground, listening to my boyfriend say he would come out to me.  I took in deep inhales of the dewy night air and yearned to fall again, for a longer period, from a higher height.  I suddenly understood what my boyfriend wanted.

I heard the front door open, then the slap of my boyfriend’s feet as he trundled across the front porch.  I saw him vault with immense grace over the porch’s side rail.  He landed in a crouch, his underwear bunching toward his hips, and then he trotted over to me.  When he reached out a hand to help me up, I tugged at his outstretched hand and pulled him down on top of me.  The grass was dewy and chilled on my back, but my boyfriend’s body was warm like a heated blanket.  I held him close, hands wrapped around his back.  I pressed my ankles against his calves.

“What are you doing?” he said.

I kissed him and pressed my pelvis toward his.

He whispered my name, his voice breaking.  He leaned back, propping himself up with his hands.  A cool rush of air slid in between us, and my skin prickled.  I reached a hand up and fiddled at his crotch.  He let out a hard, dry chuckle and shook his head, but I felt his body press toward mine.  His cheeks were flush, and when his face met mine I could feel their heat.  He kissed me hard and ground his hips against me.  I felt my breath go flat and shallow, and my legs loosened their sieve on his.  With my fingers I pried down his underwear.  I kissed him hard and said, “Let’s do that again.”


To my surprise, my boyfriend decided that as long as one of us went out the window, everything was fine.  We took turns, stripping down to our underwear, one of us leaning out over the bushes below while the other gave a gentle nudge.  I learned how to pirouette as I fell, turning back to see my boyfriend just before my body crunched into the hedge.  He would stare down at me and I would look up at him, licking my lips and sticking my hand into the band of my underwear.  I could see the glossy want in his eyes, and he would scramble down to me.  When it was his turn I stayed in the house longer, gazing down at his body piled on the boxwood, stretched out like a hide pulled over a tanner’s workbench.  His hips did this thing where they cut his body downward at an impossible angle, a sharp line dividing the muscles of his waist and his thighs.  On one occasion I snapped a photo of him with my phone and set it as my background before I chased him outside.

The falls left us bruised and scraped; I was always more beat up than him because I still hadn’t quite gotten the hang of the graceful landings that he had somehow perfected.  Watching his descents was like sitting up close to a diver springing from a platform, but instead of a splash at the end came a rustling thump, my boyfriend’s body splayed and stretched on the bushes below, which in its miraculous, helpful way retained its shape and sproing despite the pounding of flesh it took every night.  And it was every night: I was rarely home anymore, spending all of my evenings with my boyfriend, curling up next to him in the aftermath of sex, letting his alarm rouse us in the morning.  Because I worked later in the day than him—he was teaching a class at eight in the morning, claiming that the best students were the early risers—I would lie in his bed and watch him stilt through his morning routine; I listened to him whistle as he showered and then shaved, I’d watch him dress and tie on his shoes.  Then I’d finally get up and retrieve my own clothing from the night before and we would eat bowls of grain cereal in his kitchen, leaning against the sink, and drink a cup of coffee before I went home to shower and also head to campus, where I worked in the library at the reference desk.

“You know,” he said one night as I was settling into my spot at the sill, “you haven’t been home in a while.”

“I go home every day,” I said, leaning out the window.  Instead of the pushing weight of his palms, however, I felt the tug of his fingers, yanking on my hips to drag me back inside.

“That’s not what I mean,” he said.  “And I think you know it.”

I blinked at my boyfriend.  His hair had gotten long, messy, and it washed across his forehead in a thick rake.  The look was good on him, though I was constantly brushing his hair from his face, as it crowded at his eyes.

I sat down on the windowsill and let the outside air trickle up and down my spine.  My arms buoyed between my legs.  I pressed my heels into his carpet.  “So what are you suggesting?”

“Live here,” he said.  “Move in with me.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“You don’t like that idea?”

“I just need to think about it.  Come here.”  I held out my hands.  As I’d expected, my boyfriend took them, no questions asked.  He was nodding and smiling, a minute version of the Cheshire Cat’s grin, as if he knew he’d already won.  And he had.  We both knew it.  We both knew I’d say yes and not renew my lease, and that I would start hauling my things over to his house.  I’d get rid of my bed and my couch because his were much nicer, but we’d keep my cast iron skillet and drinking glasses for the same reason.  I’d bring the throw rug from my bedroom and we’d settle it in his guest room, which was covered in chilly laminate hardwood.  Even though my feet were square on the ground, I felt like I was dropping from a great height.


My apartment lease was not up for three months, so I began the migration of my things slowly despite my boyfriend’s suggestion that we just get it over with fast.  I hated packing, I told him, but the truth was that when I looked at my things in all of their ideal places—I’d lived there for three years, and things were finally settled in their appropriate nooks and cabinets and stationed on the proper side tables and shelves—I had difficulty wrenching them from where they belonged.  I started with some clothes, a drawer’s worth, mostly because my boyfriend made such a big deal about clearing out space for them in the interim before we hauled my actual bureau to his house, though he also made a shebang about rearranging his bedroom furniture to accommodate my things.

He found me at the reference desk one day, a month into my slow sojourn over (my apartment was now absent most of my wineglasses and my winter clothes, as well as the Gaugin and Monet prints that had decorated my walls; we’d also flubbed our way through transporting my recliner, which was my favorite place to sit, and stuck it in my boyfriend’s living room; he insisted it matched his couch, though any fool could see that was a stretch of the imagination).  My boyfriend hadn’t really visited me since we’d gotten together except for when he brought a class to the library, so his appearance surprised me.  He hovered off to the side of the desk while I helped a kid who was bewildered by a research assignment for his anthropology class, pointing out books and articles he might want and imploring him to write down call numbers and titles.  When we were finished, I blinked at my boyfriend.

“Hi,” he said.

“What’s up?”

“I have an idea,” he said.

“Okay.  Shoot.”

“It’s a surprise.”

“So why are you telling me about it?”

He smiled, crooked and sheepish, a sign that he didn’t have a good answer for that.  “Just to give you something to look forward to,” he said, then waved and walked away.  I frowned and watched him leave the library and turn toward the English building, which was across a long expanse of pebbled walkway.  I’d have kept staring at him, but a student, struggling to find a book for a psychology project, stepped into my line of view.  I smiled at her and asked her to sit down, thwacking the tabletop between us.  It took only a few seconds for me to give her the call number for what she needed, but by the time she was gone, so was my boyfriend.


“This seems like a bad idea,” I said.

We were standing in my now-empty bedroom, which my boyfriend had insisted we clear out.  All of my clothing had been yanked from its hangers and extricated from its drawers, tossed into laundry baskets he had brought over with him.  He’d taken the lead, because when we’d walked into my bedroom I froze and stared at my things, still in the places where they belonged.  He muscled by and pulled open my underwear drawer.

“You could decide if there’s anything you don’t want.”

“How would I know if I don’t want something?” I said.  My mouth felt numb.

“If you haven’t worn it in six months, that’s probably a good sign.”

He straightened my boxers and paired my socks, then arranged my button-down shirts on the bed.

“Is this the surprise?” I said.  “It’s not a very good one.”

“No, this is the precursor to the surprise.”  When he finished with my clothes, he tossed me his car keys and ordered me to take my clothing over to his place.  “Give me twenty minutes,” he said.

“To do what?”

“That’s the surprise.”

I rolled my eyes and picked up the last basketful of clothing, a lump of winter sweaters of which I’d chosen three to give away, partly because the sleeves were too short, and left the apartment.  At my boyfriend’s house, I set the basket on the living room floor, but instead of unloading them, I wandered.  I hadn’t ever been in his house—now our house—alone before.  I opened all the kitchen cabinets and stared at the pantry’s highest and lowest shelves.  I traipsed down into the basement, searching for any secret hideaways or evidence that he was a murderous psychopath (all I discovered was the washer and dryer, the water heater, and a box of Christmas decorations amongst a bevy of spiderwebs and furnace filters).  In the guest bathroom I scanned the contents of the cabinet below the sink.  In his bathroom, the only medicines were off-brand Tylenol and two tubes of Icy-Hot.  His closet contained no skeletons.  My pulse throbbed in my wrists and temples, and I couldn’t decide if I was relieved or disappointed.

As I drove back to my apartment, I wondered if my boyfriend had been busy doing the same thing, which didn’t make a lot of sense because most of what I owned was already tucked into his house.  I pictured my boyfriend’s own disappointment to find nothing of interest in my bedroom closet or behind my bathroom mirror (the anti-depressants I no longer took regularly but still had a storehouse of I’d already relocated to a safe spot in his master bath’s vanity).  Did we already know everything deep and dark about one another?  What layers were there to still pull back on each other’s skin?  I imagined a life of no new surprises and felt a clammy sweat break out on my forehead and palms.

I took longer than I should have getting back to my apartment building; thirty-five minutes had passed, because I sat in my car outside my boyfriend’s house staring at its façade, imagining myself decrepit and croned, sitting in a chair on the front porch, my boyfriend, somehow still youthful and spry, spooning mushy food into my mouth.  Or perhaps I was the mobile one, him a babbling mess thanks to a stroke or dementia.  It took me five minutes to shake the images from my brain like pesky water trapped in my ear after a swim.

When I pulled up, I didn’t at first see what my boyfriend had done; the sun was going down, and everything was turning shadowy and blurred.  But I could see a lump of material around the side of the building, so when I got out I walked around the side instead of through the front door.

My mattress and box springs were stacked in the grass.

“I had an idea,” I heard my boyfriend yell.  He was leaning out my bedroom window.  Even though darkness was falling, I could see the glow of his white teeth when he smiled, a wide, proud-of-himself grin.

“You said that before,” I said.  “You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?  It’s too far.”

“Just come up here,” he said, then disappeared inside.  A corona of light eked out the window, and I could see a tizzy of bugs bapping around, most of them surely diving into the apartment to take up residence along the baseboards and die.

My apartment door was cracked open, and I pushed it with a closed fist.  My heart was thrumming, my mouth watery.  My living room still held a few vestiges of my life there, and I took a moment to savor their presence, my end tables, my couch, the television whose new place in the house we hadn’t agreed on yet (my boyfriend didn’t keep a tv in his bedroom and neither did I—but there wasn’t much of a better spot for it in his place).

He called out from my bedroom, so I went.  My feet thudded hard on the wood floor.  I found him leaning against the wall next to the window.  In the time it had taken me to get upstairs, he’d kicked off his shoes and peeled away his socks, leaving them all in a small heap that looked huge in the now-emptied room.  I felt scrubbed and stripped.

“I’m not pushing you out the window,” I said.  “It’s just too far.”

“Come here,” he said, standing up straight and opening his arms in anticipation of, I guess, a hug.  I went and let him embrace me.  He was tinged with sweat.  My boyfriend’s perspiration was always citric and sweet, an odor I found appealing rather than distressing or noxious.  I took it in, breathing against his neck, his hair tickling my nose.

“I thought we could go out together,” he said.

“Are you crazy?”

He let go of me.  “Probably.  But that’s what the mattress is for.”

“We could break each other’s bones,” I said.  “We could break the mattress.”

“I’ll pay for a new one.”

“I like that one.”

“But you won’t be sleeping on it anymore.”

I felt a hot tingle in the back of my throat.  My boyfriend blinked and smiled at me, his face blossoming with dimples.  I wanted to tell him that this was the problem, that all of a sudden, everything of mine was being turned away in favor of the things that were his.  I could already feel the bruises and scrapes I would suffer from the fall.

My boyfriend nudged at my hips, catching the beltloops of my pants with his fingers and pulling me close.  “Come on,” he said.  “I’ll make it worth it.”

His breath was hot, his face slick still with the exertion of hauling the mattress down the stairs himself.  Without saying a thing, I let him position us in front of the window, which was lower to the ground than the one in his bedroom; we had to crouch awkwardly, knees pinching with heat and discomfort, to be about to lean out.  I wanted to ask him what he’d done with the screen that usually kept moths and mosquitos out, but my throat was itchy, dry.

“Ready?” he said, moving his hands to my hips and then my shoulders.

I nodded, even though I wasn’t.  I glanced around my bedroom, stripped bare.  The walls, I noticed, were each painted a slightly different shade of white: eggshell, milk, mother of pearl.  How had I never seen this before?

My boyfriend gave my body a tug, and he started to tip out the window.  My stomach lurched.  I closed my eyes and tried to prepare myself, to convince myself that this would be our best fall yet, that the feeling of suspension and flight would be prolonged.  That when we landed, we would be in some new, fantastic place, fastened together at the deepest parts of ourselves.  We would never be truly separate.  But my body was rigid, my legs resistant.  His hands were cupped in mine, our fingers a hard basket of bones.  He leaned back, fast, and let himself tumble from the window.  He expected me to fall with him, but instead I let out a hard yelp.  I didn’t let go, though.  I held on, and he hung in the air, his fingers gripping mine.  I could see the hard flash of his eyes, the wonder and worry as he swayed.  My back stretched and pulled as I held on.  He said something, but I wasn’t listening.  I was too busy trying to decide whether to let go or to let myself be dragged out the window.  Either way, I thought, I was headed for a crash, a terrible, horrible fall.

Joe Baumann is the author of Ivory Children: Flash Fictions. His work has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, Electric Literature, Electric Spec, On Spec, Barrelhouse, Eleven Eleven, Zone 3, and many others. He is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Gateway Review: A Journal of Magical Realism. In 2019, he was a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction Writing. More information is available at joebaumann.wordpress.com.