Gemini Magazine
_______________
My wife lives inside a stone box I
special ordered for her a month ago. When
it arrived she looked out excitedly from
behind the couch. “Have I got something for
you,” I said, dragging it inside. I put the
pieces together in the corner of her bare
room—a box in a box—and she squealed as
she slid the big slab door closed. I haven’t
seen her since. People feel sorry for me, but
I don’t mind.  You say you will do anything
to make your lover happy. And I do.

When I bring her food I tap on the door to
let her know I’m there. She likes to open it
at her own pace. It’s never much. An inch or
two, sometimes more when she misjudges
the strength of her pull. When I hear her
feet walk to the other side of the box I slide
a few multi grain bars through the small
opening. I squeeze in a juice box. Once a
week I give her a bag of Skittles. And, after
I close her door, I like to sit against the
stone wall and eat something too.

Sometimes when I’m lying awake at night I
hear the slide of her door and the shuffle of
her feet as she runs to the bathroom. I want
to run to her. I want to catch her midflight in
the dark and hold her and tell her, “Emma,
sweet love, please, let’s just stay here in the
dark. Just for tonight, please.” But I know
she would scream. So I let her go.

                        *****

During the day I like to walk about the town
and take pictures of all its little peculiarities.
The wooden ducks hanging from the roofs
whose wings spin around in the wind. The
mailboxes with the smiling suns and poorly
painted flowers on them. The free standing
clock that was put in back when people still
needed to look up to know what time it was.

On these tours I usually find my way to the
park. I walk along the path that outlines the
stream. Occasionally I take pictures of the
trees. At the end of the stream is a thin
waterfall that doesn’t do much to hide the
small cave behind it. I rest inside the cave
and watch the water. Mostly I think about
the time I brought Emma here when we
were young, just out of college. “Doesn’t the
park look so pretty from here,” she
whispered as she clung to me. “It looks like
a painting.” Then the rain came. And the
thin waterfall grew fat and we couldn’t see
the park anymore.

The rain didn’t stop. The white-green sheet
of water became just noise in the dark and
she trembled in my arms. I grabbed her
invisible face and kissed it all over and tried
to make her stop shaking. “Sweet love,
please don’t be scared,” I whispered to her
and she pulled me down to the wet stone
and we made love against the cold dark
floor, shrinking the cave until it was like a
blanket covering us.

In the morning I woke up to her screaming
in the corner. I ran to her and asked her
what was wrong. She just wrapped her arms
around her legs and buried her face into her
knees and screamed more. I stayed with
her there for a few hours. I didn’t mind. But
I knew she had to go home so I picked her
up and carried her out of the cave. She
screamed and fought but once we got
outside she screamed so hard that her voice
gave in and she couldn’t scream anymore.
So she squeezed me and sunk her face into
my chest and cried.

I carried her across the town. People looked
at me with sad, sympathetic faces. “Put
them away,” I told them. And they did. I
remember looking down at her, bouncing in
my arms, a ball of tears and hair. I put my
lips against her head and she pressed back,
not moving her face from the hole she’d
buried into my chest, a kiss of flesh and
follicles. I carried her the rest of the way
home that way. I could hardly breathe. But
the smell of dirt and water made the little
oxygen I could squeeze through her hair
enough. Sweet air, naturally filtered.

When I reached her front door she leapt off
me and ran inside. I could hear her feet
pounding up the steps to her room as I
walked away. I touched the wet spot she’d
left on my shirt and grew sad knowing that
it wouldn’t be there tomorrow. “Is she going
to be OK?” asked the old lady watering her
flowers next door. “Yes,” I answered, and
the old lady smiled and went back to
watering her flowers.

The next morning I came back to Emma’s
house. I knocked on the door and her
mother cracked it open and looked out with
heavy eyes. But when she saw the
assurance in my face her expression
softened and she opened the door a little
wider. I walked up the steps to Emma’s
room. I saw her in the corner curled up
under a thick green blanket. A little hill
beneath a window. I slowly went
underneath the covers with her and she
looked at me with eyes like water lilies. The
light from the window mixed with the fabric
and lit up our little cave bright green. I
reached out my hand to her. I showed her
the ring I’d bought yesterday after I’d taken
her home. She laughed and cried and pulled
me so close that my body wrapped around
hers until she couldn’t have been able to tell
there was a blanket over her at all. I
thought of myself as a cave. And I’ve never
been happier.

                        *****

After I think about these things I walk back
home without taking any more pictures. I
place the camera on my bed and lie there
for a while next to it. I curl up under the
blanket and pretend it’s green.

I walk to her room and look at the big stone
box in the corner. It looks like her skin: pale
and beautiful. Sometimes I want to open the
door and go inside and wrap my body
around hers to remind her that I can be a
stone box too. But I know she’s happy, and
that the door’s unexpected opening would
scare her, so I let the thought go.

Still, I walk towards the box as if I’m going
to open it. I stretch my arms across its
rough skin. I press the side of my face
against the cold stone surface and wonder if
she can feel me there at all.
by Daniel Rios
YOU SAY
YOU WILL
Daniel Rios is an undergraduate at
the University of Southern California
where he studies English literature
and advertising. His work has
appeared in Paláver Magazine. He
can be reached at
drios@usc.edu.