I lay in bed late at night, sweat filming my upper lip. The view outside the window was entirely black, no hint of dawn. I’d already pushed down the covers on my side. Laura turned toward me, her mouth parted, breath still minty with toothpaste. Even when it was hot in the room, her hands and feet were perennially cold, so she pushed into the heat of my chest and legs. Somewhere, out over the bay, a boat horn groaned into the night. The atmosphere felt sluggish and thick, no manufactured wind streaming from the vents. I stared at the fullness of her lips, the dense fall of her hair framing her cheeks, but the dark obscured her features. I almost reached for her face: My heart. You’re the last one I’d want to hurt.
I dug around with my feet for her hot water bottle. Sure enough, it lay inches from her ankles, tepid now, as awful as an organ that had fallen from her body. I rolled out of bed, lugged it to the bathroom to fill it again. The faucet sparkled. The dark drain chugged. The bottle gulped with almost human intention: insatiable, swelling, the deep red-pink of candy. Lurid now. Monstrous. And intimate.

Paul Lisicky is the author of LAWNBOY, FAMOUS BUILDER, and two forth- coming books: THE BURNING HOUSE (2011) and UNBUILT PROJECTS (2012). He has taught in the creative writing programs at Cornell, NYU, Rutgers-Newark, and Sarah Lawrence. He lives in New York City. His blog,MYSTERY BEAST can be found here: