Inger did not do well with love. She walked into windows, let windows slam down on her wrists. Her wrists were black and blue, as was her big toe black and blue, which she stubbed again and again with her open shoes. She could not complete her sentences. She lost things. Dina said, Look. You have the handsomest, kindest, smartest man in town burying his face in you. We’d kill to be you. Fuck you. What Dina didn’t know was that Inger was the kind of person who was too willing to give up everything. And for what? An act of tenderness and aggression that didn’t even feel all that good half the time. She wished she could be the kind of person who could be satisfied with a chocolate cupcake and a cold glass of milk, but she wasn’t that kind of person. She’d never be that kind of person.

They were fucking. They were really going at it this time. The boyfriend slammed Inger with such force that she rose up to meet his mouth with equal force. Warmth trickled down the back of her throat. She might have been swallowing sea water, but it tasted cleaner, with minerals in it. She felt an openness in her face. The openness was to the right side of her mouth, and she stabbed at the back of the tooth with her tongue, vicious. She pushed it through her lips, lifted it up for the boyfriend to see. He was already on the far side of the bed, holding himself close, naked. She placed the tooth in a coaster. See what I’ve given up for you.

Front page image by chantel beam photography

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Paul Lisicky

About the Author

Paul Lisicky's books include Lawnboy, Famous Builder, The Burning House, and Unbuilt Projects. His work has appeared in The Awl, Fence, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Tin House, and elsewhere. He teaches in the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden and in the low residency program at Sierra Nevada College. A new memoir, The Narrow Door, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2014. Paul's new short story collection, Unbuilt Projects, is being published by Four Way.
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