You aren’t positive you’re a couple until you find it hard to breathe. She sweeps in, magnificent in her mutability. You might have met her on the plane, attending that long-delayed concert or during your first trip back to the movies. You weren’t looking, but it’s hard to deny you were open to the possibilities. For months you wore protection, but then you wondered what was the point. You slipped up, and she was there to catch you.
Now, you cannot shake her. A few of your friends claim she’s nothing more than a silent hitchhiker. Some don’t even notice her until they hear the car door slam at a stoplight downtown. Until they spot a sultry specter in the rearview mirror, a shadow streaking by under the overpass.
But you, you always knew she was there. Your punctured oil pan evidence enough—mysterious black pools collecting nightly beneath your overheated engine. At first you struggle, but her fiery hands burn your leather stitching and your tires shudder in the rumble strip. Once in control, she tightens her grip until your mind grows muddy.
You flutter in and out of consciousness and find yourself parked somewhere in purgatory–Netflix, the only thing you recognize. Your willpower overwhelmed; she infects you with her Real Housewives. You slumber and sweat and beg for her departure, but still she lingers.
A concerned friend suggests therapy but you doubt your relationship even qualifies. So, you lay with her until, at last, she grows bored of your coughing. You hear her slip from the sheets, and you silently rejoice. Whisper hallelujahs at her naked back. Your celebrations are muted, however, for even as slivers of your former self reappear, you fret about her return. She’s changed her look before, and she’s already proven impossible to resist.
Coleman Bigelow studied creative writing as an undergraduate at The University of Virginia and went on to study playwriting and screenwriting at The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and the New School. His short stories and flash have appeared recently in Bright Flash Literary Review, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Free Flash Fiction, and The Dead Mule School. He’s currently at work on his first novel.