Alice White and I had just finished making grunge sex with our heroin-moans. It was then I saw her green eyes, always shimmering with some wire-hanger memory, stare out past my shoulder. It was around the time that her mother had been acquitted for shooting Alice’s stepfather in ‘self-defence’. She said the shadow was there again, but this time it was staying. She said that it had watched us make sex as if a kind of mockery to shadows, their undeniable treachery.
It was just a shadow, I said, and it’s not shadows that can harm you. It’s who owns them.
She rose from our sex-soiled bed, an unused room in her parents’ house, and found her mother’s gun hidden. Standing naked before the shadow, she shot it. Three times.
She said it had been following her everywhere, sometimes changing its form, sometimes skinny, sometimes round or jagged, sometimes still as an afternoon of failed kites. She said it knew too much about her, would someday enter her and drive her to believe in crazy things. Like she could pull the moon down into her room, and in its glowing warmth, she would make love to herself in my absence. Her mother was not home that weekend.
After that night, Alice avoided me at school, dated other boys with respectable last names, ones who used condoms and asked if she had enjoyed their beautiful action. They hardly ever said ‘sex’. They usually referred to it as ‘making love’, even when there was no love.
I grew up and moved away. I married a woman with a cheerful superficial attitude toward everything. She couldn’t give me everything I wanted. She wasn’t passionate about the moon, the stars, how two people could make and kill a shadow. But we were comfortable with our polite smiles and respected distances.
Whenever I told her about Alice White, she smiled, shrugged, and said it sounded like she had problems at the time and she was sure that by now, Alice would have outgrown them.
But the truth was Alice never moved that far away from me. I always felt her somewhere in the night, especially after my wife or I made paltry excuses for not having sex. I didn’t tell my wife that for all these years, Alice White had been growing on me while I had stopped growing. An omission. I knew it was a crime. I knew I was guilty.
Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Scream from Scars publications and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He has been published in Otata, Wigleaf, Haibun Today, [b]oink, and elsewhere.