Adam and Amanda

There was the sick-sick sound Nicole's nails made when she scratched the skin on her ankles. There was the swell above the pubis that on her he found repulsive but on other women like Drew Barrymore he found sexy. There were cold sheets between them in the king size and a dusty wedding album in a dark closet.

On the weekends, there was overeating on the couch, with the remote between them, instead of at the kitchen table across from each other. There was paying bills online and refinancing the mortgage at a rate below the original loan. There was the pre-game show and beer in the fridge.

On Mondays, there was coffee and reading the sports page on the toilet with tiles beneath his feet. There was a customary kiss goodbye and a forty-five minute commute. There was the cubicle he'd had for six years and the word "Senior" added to the title "National Account Executive." There was realizing that he was slowly forgetting everything and remembering that one day he, too, would die. There had never been a dream.

Then, late one night, there is something that changes everything. A pop-up ad on Yahoo. A brunette looking sideways at him with emerald eyes. The flashing words: "Click here for Women seeking Men." He swallows the last sip of beer and carefully sets the bottle down on the glass desk.

Soon he's clicked and is watching his fingers move over the keys like animal snouts rooting for grubs in the moonlight. He registers under the name Adam. His real name is Paul.

"Welcome Adam. Are you ready to meet women looking to meet men like you?" Diane loves her dogs. Frieda likes art films and Petite Sirah. Wendy will travel up to fifty miles. Amanda wants to feel again. Adam agrees to meet Amanda at a bar in the airport. She'll wear red.

There is a three day wait and then a drive and twenty minutes of forcing himself not to turn back. There is a sinister moment in the parking lot before he grabs his umbrella and braves the rain. There is a winding snake of dread and delight at the security check. There is a bar in Terminal A and a bartender who smells of cigarettes. There is remembering that his name is Adam.

There is cocktail one, two and three and lights from the tarmac that flash through drops on the empty glass, and something beginning to swell in the periphery, some throbbing red dread that lives in the margins like a scratch on the retina, a flaw that can't be understood because it can't be seen directly, as if it were on the eye, and wherever the eye moves, it moves with it, forever out of focus, beyond the field of vision, but always lingering out there, a ghostlike presence that shadows everything in his life. Only in moments like this, when he is drunk and exposed, does he attempt to look quick and catch it. Stupid, feeble behavior. He knows this, but he can't deny the desire to try. His eyes flick to the right and he catches a glimpse. There is the red dress. There she is in red reaching down to scratch her ankle, his Nicole staring out the window at an airplane lifting off the runway and floating up into the sky.

About the author:

Troy Klith's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in several online and print journals. He's currently rewriting the rewritten rewrite of his satirical novel Not For Profit. He lives in New York City's East Village.