Red, painted lips pressed against the infant’s head, and his mother rose and turned from the still child and left the darkened room. Her quiet voice hummed a lullaby her own mother used to sing to her, and she walked to her own bedroom to get dressed for work.
Her uniform was already clean and laid out. She checked her purse to make certain it had all she needed, and then began to change. A kiss on her shoulder told of her husband’s arrival. She turned to look at him and smiled at him. “Mind helping me change?” Her wink was flirtatious, and he smiled back at her as he zipped her bright red tube top into place over her chest. It was a struggle against her large breasts.
The tight latex around her chest left her breathless as she thanked the thin, bony man who silently helped her. His hands found her matching miniskirt and put it on her, followed by her leather jacket before he tossed her stockings, tiny socks, and heels toward her so she could finish the rest on her own.
Christopher walked out of his wife’s bedroom and toward the kitchen. His lips were a thin line, bordered in white as his eyes slowly took in the room around him. For several moments, his eyes rested on a large knife that was often used for cutting melons. One gaunt hand grabbed it by the handle, and the other grabbed a textured knife sharpener.
Deft movements dragged the stick along each side of the blade, and the smell of metal added a slight tang to the air that travelled through Christopher’s flared nostrils. The edge shone as he held it up in front of his eyes, which travelled over it, like a man feeling the flesh of his lover. They followed the curve of the large knife, and then he dropped the knife to his side quickly as his wife poked her head into the kitchen. “I made dinner for you. It’s in the fridge. Sorry I can’t stay long enough to eat with you– I’ll have to eat after work.”
Christopher’s knuckles became white as he nodded to her and watched her depart. He turned toward the counter and looked at the pineapple that rested there. With practiced speed, he sliced it into small triangles, and put the cut pieces into a bowl. Carelessly, he shoved the skin, top, and core down into the nearby trash bin. A few fruit flies rose and flew about as he waved them away from his bowl of fruit and grabbed a fork.
His legs carried him toward his bedroom–separate from his wife’s– and he sat in front of a wooden desk with a scuffed laptop. One bony hand braced the bottom, and after he placed the bowl and fork beside the laptop, he used his other hand to pry the thing open with a squeak of protest.
With a press of the power button, and five minutes of waiting and a login screen, he gained access to his computer. The operating system was Windows XP, and the mouse moved with a short delay as he dragged a fingertip along the touch pad to open Firefox.
His eyes glanced toward a pair of sticky-notes on the wall. One reminded him to “sell” and the other was a reminder that simply said “I love my wife.” with a smile inside a heart underneath the dark, embossed words.
Eyelids slipped shut for a moment, and when they opened, his gaze was directed at the screen again, and he lifted his hands and placed them onto the home row. “G” and “h” were left untouched between his pointer fingers. For a few long moments, there was stillness before he began to type. His fingers danced along four, five, eight keys.
He began a new auction, and the words blurred before his eyes as he pressed tab on each text field after he added something to it. He checked the boxes, marked the drop-downs, and set a base price. He uploaded one picture and moved through all the steps. All that was left was a single button press. He stared at the button for a time, and then stood and walked away, only to pace a few steps with his fingers over his mouth and a furrow to his brows that shadowed his squinted brown eyes. Suddenly, he turned around and pressed the button, then let out a breath and closed the window, only to open the browser again, and type in another website– something he could waste time on for a while.
Christopher’s eyes began to close, one just ever so slightly faster than the other, and both blinking as he stared at an image on the screen and pressed his right arrow key to move to a different image. A voice from behind woke him quickly.
“Sell what?” It was his wife.
The man rose and quickly turned to face her with wide, dilated eyes and an open, stammering mouth.
“Sell what?” Her voice was higher, and she spoke faster, through clenched teeth.
“Some- Some shoes.”
“Shoes?” The woman scowled. Her tight tube top strained as she took a deep breath. “What shoes?”
“The-” He looked away. “Blue ones.” His voice became quiet, and for a time, all was silent.
Her scream made his ears ring as she spat accusations at him. Tiny drops of spittle clung to his face as he closed his eyes against her verbal assault. Just in time, he opened his eyes to spot her with her shoe in hand, swinging at him.
Christopher ducked aside and darted out of the room. She chased him. He turned right on instinct. He hated to turn left there. His legs carried him to the dining room, and as she continued to chase him, he turned into the kitchen and looked around. His hand landed on the knife before his eyes did. It was still sticky with pineapple juice. He thrust it at her, and hot blood hit his hand. He let go.
She grabbed it with a woman’s fury and drove it into him as her body weakened and became pale. Her expression faded from primal rage to a soft smile as she let go of the knife and walked with uneasy steps to her son’s bedroom. The infant remained still in his cradle. Blood-stained lips pressed against him. “Mommy’s going to keep you safe, and keep daddy from selling your clothes.”
Red hands gripped the blue shoes, and she placed them onto the tiny infant’s unmoving feet. As she picked up his cold body, she smiled at him as her world blurred. “You’re safe now, don’t cry, Phillip.”