Do You Know Where You Lost It?

Angela didn't understand what was such a big deal about love. People were always making such a thing about it. Such a fuss. She watched her husband poking away at the refrigerator with an ice pick. It was stuffed up pretty bad. Mucked up with ice, she described it to him.

Their daughter came in with a wand and was sprinkling pixie dust in her wake. The dog was licking it up off the hardwood floor behind her.

"Jesus Christ!" her husband jumped from the freezer. His behind was sticking out in black pants looking like a large lump of coal excreted by the wall. "It's like a damn mine of ice!" he shrieked. His voice had a tendency to crack when he became too excited--whether with anger or eagerness it didn't matter. In the past, sometimes he would shout out in bed and Angela would hear a faint trace of her daughter's voice in his.

Angela was sitting on the breakfast room table with her legs crossed, as she often did when she wanted some attention. She petted the dog as it strolled by, its tongue panting up, sparkling. "Did you hear about the neighbors?"

"What neighbors?"

"Our neighbors."

"Yes, dear. But which?" he said.

"The ones that I guess aren't really neighbors anymore. The divorced couple. You know. Do you know?'

Their daughter flew through the house again. She smelled of Angela's perfume and if she wasn't feeling young herself Angela would have scolded her daughter. The pungent fumes stuck in the air and Angela tasted it, brunt, against her nose.

"No I don't know which. The ugly couple or the hideous one?"

"What a terrible thing to say," Angela said.

"Why are you talking like that?" he asked, still stuck in the freezer. She was talking oddly--almost with a British accent. She looked at his behind: it looked like an old man's--like her father's. He was only 28. She was 33.

"I think it's the play. That's what's got me talking like this," she said.

"What play?"

"I'm rehearsing your daughter's play with her."

"I know that."

"Then why'd you ask, 'What play?'" she said.

He pretended not to hear.

"So don't you want to know about which couple?"

"Stop talking that way."

"What way?"

"You know the fucking way I'm talking about, dear. You keep pronouncing everything perfectly."

"Do you know what an ass you sound like?" she lapsed.

The daughter circled about the downstairs again. She was intoxicated with her mother's perfume. She had tasted it. Taken a sip really. She was feeling dizzy and her head smelled like it was filled with gasoline. She was running out of pixie dust.

"Would you go fetch me," he said emphasizing the word he felt sounded the most British, "some pliers from the garage?" he said. "Or should I say the garage?" he said with a thickness on the beginning of the word that made it rhyme with care.

"Whatever you say, dear."

She walked by and spanked him. He pretended to either not notice or not care.

In the garage Angela looked down at the pliers on the concrete steps he had built the previous summer. They were short and circular and were exactly what she had wanted them to be.

The pliers were laying, broken in two for some reason--split at the screw.

"I don't see them," she called. For the first time she sounded American and there was no romanticism in her voice.

She started to kick them aside, but knew it would make too much noise. She picked them up and felt a draft blow in through the open garage door and ruffle the end of her skirt. She became self-conscious and looked behind her, but the door had shut. She looked out onto the neighborhood. On the well-lit block, it was bright and dark at the same time. She could see, as usual, the side-yard of the Mailer's all the way to the pool in their backyard. Fluorescent lights beamed down into it and in the breeze-less night she could see the movement of the water--a tropical blue--humming with a rhythm that didn't pass through the trees, or their branches, but--she imagined--had somehow reached the end of her skirt. She held the pliers in her hands and was rubbing the metal together. She felt very small. Upstairs she heard her daughter bouncing--the floorboards creaking after her. She heard a bark and then her daughter's attempt to bark back with a sweet, high pitch that reminded Angela of the sound her husband made when he used to come.

They had been sexless for six months. He wouldn't see a doctor. She didn't know if a doctor would help. They had had one conversation about it.

Those neighbors really are ugly, she thought to herself in her accent.

"Did you find them?" her husband called from inside.

"I just told you I didn't!"

"Well I thought maybe now you had."

"No," she said quieter. She straightened her back and felt the lone breeze in the night brush by against her legs. "Do you know where you lost it?" she called.

"I'll come help you."

"That's fine. I'll find 'em myself."

She looked at the water in the Mailer's backyard and for the first time felt how cold the concrete in the garage was against her bare feet.

About the author:

Will Pewitt is working towards his M.F.A. at the University of Arizona where he also teaches undergraduate English. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Claremont Review, The Avery Anthology, and Word Riot. He is currently polishing a collection of stories while writing a novel.