1. To my surprise, I saw you
    1. at the gym yesterday
    2. for the first time in ten years
    3. in a cut-off white tee and grey sweat shorts to your oak knot knees
    4. talking to a trainer, writhing your pale earthworm mouth in that recognizable, inarticulate way.
  1. You are less tall than I recall.
  1. I recall you
    1. being ten pounds additional, perhaps fifteen
    2. as dense as a lead chest filled with kryptonite
      1. as if I were so super
    3. across the table at the Olive Garden in the days when I still dined there
    4. tracing that scarring on your right hand, stitches just out, your forefinger inflamed before MRSA was a thing on the news.
  2. You were a knock-off Pollock I have not forgotten.
  1. I have not forgotten
    1. the woebegone charm lounging in your bayou vowels
    2. your languid posture throughout the evening
    3. your brief touches, your troposphere eyes, your distracted gaze
    4. talking your way back to my place over the chocolate cake
    5. that your cock was smaller than I predicted, your ass firmer than it appeared in your cheap Wranglers.
  1. You should be unknowingly pleased I moved on.
  1. I moved on from
    1. your first playful slap and its rougher follow-through
    2. your pointed shoving me against the base of my old beige hide-a-bed
    3. your wrestling me into submission
      1. your dry cracked heels scraping, bruising my ankles
    4. your attempt to shove your semi-erect mauve cock into my unprepared sphincter as we struggled and slid against the bookshelf.
  1. You were foolish, for I usually prepare.
  1. I prepare
    1. my work lunches at home
    2. my mind with the New York Times and encyclopedias
    3. my body with yoga and push-ups
    4. for dates with Google and cologne
      1. for good dates with condoms and plastic handcuffs, breakfast the next morning
      2. for bad dates by hiding knives in strategically reachable places.
    1. You jumped like a cat off a hot plate
    1. when I jabbed
      1. the meat cleaver against your neck
        1. after pulling it from between the collected works of Shakespeare and Dickinson on the shelf above my head
      2. the air between us repeatedly, as if oxygen were to blame
      3. and chased you out the back door
        1. pursuing you out of my building’s back lot, tossing your clothes over the fire escape
      4. my head out the door as you rounded the corner back to your car on the street.
    1. You were more rabbit than I imagined.
    1. I imagined
      1. ripping your larynx from your throat
      2. running that blade through your bowels
      3. bumping into you at a bar, late at night, during inebriated hours, when I could easily discard your snapped-neck body in a dumpster
      4. going dark Sith and willing you to slowly asphyxiate
      5. what I might do if I ever actually saw you again.
    1. And as you listened to the trainer, I stepped off the elliptical.
    1. I stepped into possibility, a moment of reckoning, but it passed you
      1. to begin my sets on the cable flys
      2. to forget through sweat until
    1. you left with a casual amble only the damned understand.

Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, works at a library, and consumes much coffee and wine. His work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Typehouse Magazine, Beech Street Review, The Matador Review, Impossible Archetype, Love’s Executive Order, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and many more. You can read more at www.benkline.tumblr.com/publications.

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