She opened her laptop, lay sideways on the bed. The inch of her midriff exposed revealed a steely and olive source of his undoing. He pushed in beside and ran a hand along her, ―Oh, stop! You’re so cold.―Sorry, and went back to the fridge. Beer in hand, he slid in next to her again. A plastic bag rustled. The can released air.He could hear Lauren’s sighs sputter to relief. From the laptop, she’d been watching a sitcom about local politics, ―Larry, this is part of a real estate transaction now. You have no claim to it… The can was cold. He wrapped the sleeve of his shirt around it and wriggled out of pants. She turned from him, and he watched the body sink further in its wavelike rolling out across a slow and fleeting something. ―Yeah Jerry it’s probably a typo because it probably should’ve said you have a cube butt. He closed her laptop. He shook the can and drank what was left. He checked his phone:Please dont forget tomorrow okay I know u need your space but I cannot afford to take a cab okay just follow thru on this one thingAre you still at the libraryI’m not trying to bother u but just let me know youre still coming when you get this my flight is at 6PmHe texted her back. That he was:in the east village sorry for not texting sooner fell asleep at friends houseill pick u up at like 4. got to do some laundry first―Hi. He touched at her shoulder. ―I’ve got to get going okay.―What time is it?―Like before eleven.―Erhm.―I can stay if you want to have breakfast or something.―Eh.―Okay, I’ll text you later okay? Do you want to hang out or something tonight, to silence and he stepped into his pants, the room north-facing in the morning light. The bags of her eyes made them look swollen shut.He stopped by the library, and with his backpack on his lap watched the muted pictures, a stout owl in red jacket and blue bowtie danced and looked to sing, flickering across the television at a small laundromat west of the park. He returned the bag of clothes to his basement locker. At the gym, a few blocks south, he showered, allowing his eyes to unfocus and brushing his teeth twice. He changed into a new shirt.Strands of hair froze in the walk to the subway, and he rubbed them out, standing sickle-like over his neck, over the bridge, the gray sloshing of the river against the highway. He turned from the silent and dull bend of the financial district. Was it people he made out across the adjacent bridge? people who moved imperceptibly in the already late endlessness of a day? they seemed angry. He was angry for them, and grew angrier, pitching back underground and on toward the brick building converted into leases new and renewed, the infant next door by then the trilingual favorite of her preschool class, basement flooding more than once on the bicycle he never rode and the flooding under the kitchen sink. To Laura. ―Where is the car… Yes hi… Yes, hi… I said yes… Right around the corner where I normally park where do you think I… Well so where is… What… Why did you park it over… No reason to get hysterical Jesus I’ll be there in a few minutes, he turned, an obese jacket face down at the avenue’s corner, by the drugstore, he stared around it, crossing the street, the sky beginning already to slope into the settling clouds, past the enormous apartment complex where the baseball stadium had stood, the mural of former players cracking on the side of the auto repair shop. He made a loop at the end of the block, then to his recent calls, ―Where is it… Well that’s where I am, I don’t see it… Well it’s not there, you said… Well if you meant Nostrand why didn’t you say Nostrand and… Fine, it’s fine I’m going back.The windshield was covered in snow, and beneath that, leaves, and he brushed them away to uncover a damp orange envelope. Somewhere was the smell of burning, barbecue. A stone landed behind him, bouncing down the road. Through the window, over the parking brake, he could see the keys huddled in a cup holder. He unlocked the door with his own, and squeezed them.After a few seconds the ignition turned over. Snow had melted off half the car. He wiped the rest with the elbow of his jacket. He kicked around the tires with his boots and blew on his hands. The breath vaporized, cupping around the steering wheel and around the block, five south, two west, one north, one east. He gave the horn of a couple goes. She struggled down the stairs, her bags hanging off her like a child, he thought. Is she not just as much capable of putting one down and going back for it later? or was this simply part of the act? the great act of the suffering and forsaken woman. The kept woman, waiting for some cosmic force to rise up and give her back something she was never entitled to to begin with. She was punishing him. Or trying to, and he opened the trunk. She pulled the passenger door handle to no avail, he unlocked it. ―Jesus if you’d just stopped tugging at the thing.―You’re early.―Well I said I’d be here, like, what do you want to do, should I go away and come back later?―I wish you wouldn’t. You always feel as though you need to start an argument, all I was, just, like remarking that you were early. And now you’re, look at you you’ve already got an attitude. Do I really make you that unhappy just seeing me is so terrible? Or are you hungover.―Both.―God, you are never going to just. Like, you’ll never be able to just look past this like we could be friends again.―I’m driving you aren’t I?―You’re, of course you are. You’d do anything to get me out of the city wouldn’t you, to get me halfway across the country, to be rid of me. What’s, like, twenty minutes of driving when you could have me gone forever, right?―Right. With this traffic it might even be closer to thirty.―Thirty minutes, an hour. After all I… After I…―Please don’t even say it. Here’s some, like, mail for you by the way.―This… It’s got your name on it.―All I asked was that you move the car for street cleaning. All I asked, for all the times we took this car to… All the times I picked you up and dropped you off, got groceries and you couldn’t even…―Fine so I screwed up so I…―You left the keys in the fucking…―So I forgot the keys. Big deal, do you know the stress I’m under? The stress you don’t help but to add to do you know how worried I am? Snowstorms and firetrucks wild and you’re, like, sleeping at the library, blacking out and sleeping in the…―The library stayed open. It was the last day of finals why would they close the… You know the kinds of calls they’d get from the kids’ parents? The kids out there from San Francisco the library’s closed for a snowstorm, do you think they’d…―I don’t care. I don’t care, just stop yelling.―You left the keys in here how many days ago? And didn’t even think to call me. To let me know. What if somebody saw them, just sitting out for everyone to see in the cupholder, what if someone, like, saw them and broke…―Well this is exactly why I didn’t call you. Screaming at me, driving like an insane, watch out, goddamn it. You’re going to kill us both. That’s what you want isn’t it? To kill us both.―Not both of us.―You know, that’s sick. That’s really nice, go on and try to guilt me. Saying you’re going to kill yourself again, just. You’d think with your, like, history with cars you’d, like, be a little more care…―Well what if I did, what if I did kill myself, then what would you…―It would… I don’t know what I’d do. It would be terrible. The worst thing I can imagine, and I can imagine it.―I’ll try to keep you from having to imagine it.―Yeah, well maybe it would make things better. For you, for me.―Maybe.―God, you’re really. Like, that’s so stupid, you know you’re not fooling anyone. Like, this friend you stayed with. Who’s this friend anyway?―I just say that so you won’t worry about me always staying at the library.―Yeah right, bull shit. Who’s this friend anyway. I got your text so who’s this friend? Some emaciated stupid bitch you knew in college? Some weird freak you met at a bar?―There’s no friend. I already told you there’s no friend.―You know, you look terrible. You just look so worn out and ruined. Like you don’t even care anymore.―Oh I care.―Oh really? What do you care about?―…―Yeah that’s what I thought.―So are you going to, like, take this or what? flapping the orange envelope at her face, turning onto the expressway. ―Are you going to pay this or…―Give it to me, catching herself on the dashboard. Seizing it, ―Christ, why don’t you just, you just…―Stop crying, Jesus Christ.―Well you act like this you know I feel like you’re going to crash the car. Like, we’re not in any rush and look at all this traffic, like, and you know I can’t afford this. Can’t afford a cab I can’t afford a parking ticket for your stupid…―It’s fine, here, give it back to me.―No.―Just give it back.―I’d rather be broke. Be broke than let you help me anymore.―Relax. Just, I’m sorry okay. I said I was sorry. First thing I said when you got in the car was I’m sorry.―No.―It’s fine, just… Here, thank you. It’s not a big deal. Nothing I can’t swing.―How much is it?―Didn’t look.―How much.―It doesn’t matter. I can afford it. Just. Just relax. It’s fine. He realized he had forgotten to turn on the headlights and flicked them, flashing suddenly in the dim end of the year.From the stereo, ―I never walk about after dark, it’s my point of view, ’cause someone could break your neck, coming up behind you always coming and you’d never have a clue.―It doesn’t matter anyway. I work at a college library. My boss barely speaks English, can barely read a tenth of the books in the collection. The students think I’m student. Do you think anyone cares if I have a bit of a beard?―What?―You said I looked terrible.―You, like… You look harried.―That’s what I said. That’s what I was just addressing isn’t…―No, I mean. It’s fine.―I’m here aren’t I?―…―…―Are you going to see your parents over your break?―What? Uh, no. I don’t think so.―Well because my mom, like, she was, she said if you wanted to. There’s still standby tickets for the flight after mine.―I… No, that’s… No.―She’s worried about you, you know. I mean, like, I don’t care, you should do what you want, but all I’m saying is she’s worried.―You’re telling her about me.―She calls me. She calls me and asks how you’re doing, asks how I’m doing, but she asks how you’re doing and I can’t even. I don’t even have an answer for her. How do you think that makes her feel? She always said how much she liked you, but you, she’s, like, worried about you that’s all I’m trying to…―Maybe she should be worried about you, all those pills you…―Well maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if you thought about…―Listen, I’m doing great. Everything’s under control, think I need a bunch of pills and shit to get me through the? Nothing’s wrong with me, I feel, like, my, I’m sure I feel as normal as, like… Gah, I can’t even think of the word because you’ve got me all…―I’m just suggesting that maybe you…―Oh well what if I told you I was even thinking about signing up for one of those psychiatric evaluations with a brain scan and…―Well that would be great to hear. It’s been what, over a year since they’ve had a look at your… I just think that’s just about the best thing you could say. I even, like, I actually met someone recently in the field who I bet could…―I’m not doing it for… Listen it’s free, I might even be getting paid to do it for this friend of mine, okay…―Friend of…―It’s not that! Jesus I already…―Well fine. Fine, I’m just glad you’re, like, actually thinking about giving your health a little attention finally.―Hm.―Will you at least, at least if I’m gone… Are you planning on staying at the apartment while I’m gone? I mean if you could water the plants and…―Well someone has to move the car, which terminal did you say you were…―Eight…―Okay well it’s. Okay just… Do you need any help with your bags or any…―No that’s fine. It’s fine, thank you for dropping me off. I really appreciate you driving and, like, if you need me to take care of that ticket I could always just ask my dad for…―Don’t worry about the ticket. Have a safe flight.―Right. Okay, well you too. I mean, have a good… He looked empty, the stare, his mouth slightly open, she thought. Opened up and nothing there just a hanging what, the hanging remains of what she… The thought ended. ―Just get some rest and stuff okay I think we’ve both had a difficult enough…―You too. I, goodbye.―Bye, and pushed the door. He reached across for it, shape of her already disappearing clumsily led by the weight of her bags, through the revolving doors, opened and slammed it securely closed. He followed a line of taxis out and around the circuit, the thrum of the runway, planes landing, shaking and departing, the bodies suspended, insipid, without prerogative over the tarmac, in the jet bridge, the tarmac packed and sinking so gradually, so impossibly imperceptibly, the water rising, still, the red lights and the rift divided them, then a glimpse, a break of light on the horizon as it dipped behind a bridge and Alex pulled onto the highway, blinking.