Rumpus Original Fiction: You’re Not Going to Believe This

By

Everyone already thinks I love you so no one will believe the situation in which we find ourselves, orchestrated by me, is an accident.

At first it made sense. When I asked if you, a fellow bookmaker, if you wanted to go to this convention, tiny and rare, where a new, or old, rather, typeset, lost at sea for hundreds of years, would be unveiled, the most beautiful in the world, the few who’d seen it reported gravely, you said Yes.

The convention happened to be in Tbilisi. We would be so far away, the only people we knew in Tbilisi. That’s not my fault.

So it made sense to get a place together: economical sense, we are always incentivized to be two rather than one; logistical sense, we could leave from the same place to go to the same place each day. I booked a sunny, long apartment, one bedroom on either end, nothing on the walls, a small, clean balcony. Perfect. Responsible. Looks great, you said. Thanks for booking it.

You went a day ahead and while you were midair, our host canceled. Bees, they said. A whole population in the walls. They had to be handled carefully because we need bees. These bees, the host added proudly, have the longest stingers in the world.

You’re not going to believe this, I said. Bees. There is one two-room place still available.

I’m here, you said from the new place. Thanks for booking it.

When I arrived I saw two rooms didn’t mean two bedrooms but a bedroom and a kitchen. Two guests didn’t mean two beds but two halves of one bed. You had slept the night before on the floor beside the empty bed.

I didn’t know, I said. I like the floor, you said. I’ll sleep on the floor, I said. Sometimes I sleep on the floor at home, you said. I’m even thinking about getting rid of my bed. I’m afraid you don’t believe me about the rooms and the beds, I said. I’m afraid you don’t believe me about the floor, you said.

You did sound comfortable, sleeping on the floor. I listened to the sound of you sounding comfortable and watched the room imperceptibly fill with light.

Tbilisi was as bright and smelled as much like cigarettes as my wildest dreams. The typeset had angles and contours I couldn’t believe. It could be like this, I thought. Our hands brushed together by accident. Sorry, I said. I clenched and unclenched my fist, afraid you wouldn’t believe it was an accident. That’s okay, you said. I don’t want you to think I’m getting carried away, I said. I don’t think that, you said.

We stayed out late talking about the typeset. What kinds of content it would articulate best, all the possibilities of meaning, all the combinations of beauty. I wanted to eat the lights tinkling in the corners, the leaves heavy above our heads, the woman’s laughter over your shoulder, the color of her friend’s nails, the glow of the glass in your hands. My jaw moved up and down. Look, I said too loudly, bees. Little bodies floated among the leaves. The stingers do look long, you said, your face tilted up.

Yes. The typeset had been there all along, always there, underwater and nobody knew it.

Back at our place, I paused at the door with the keys. Sometimes there’s pressure at a threshold, but we were going in together, you behind me up the dark steps. Through the door, an inch of water. Oh my god, I said. What do we do, you said. The middle of the night, your bed underwater. I messaged the host. We scooped the water with pots and poured it into the sink. I don’t think it’s helping, you said. We have to try, I said. If we don’t try it looks like it’s on purpose. Looks like it to who, you said.

We put our wet suitcases on the tops of a desk and a dresser. We climb in bed to get out of the water. We take off our wet shoes and socks. You take off your wet pants. Oh, sorry, you say. I wasn’t thinking. That’s okay, I say. They’re wet. We lie down to wait for the host to wake up. You cross your arms over your chest, I think, so you won’t touch me by accident. I hang my arm off my side of the bed and my fingertips touch water. Soon it is up to my wrist. This is just how I sleep, you say. I don’t want you to think I’m afraid to touch you. I don’t think that, I say. I clench and unclench my fist under the cool water. Slowly it rises. Up, up, up.

 

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Rumpus original art by Lisa Marie Forde


Jane Dykema’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, Electric Literature, No Tokens, Fanzine, the anthology, Cover Stories, and elsewhere. She’s a 2016 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow and holds an MFA from UMass Amherst. She teaches writing at Clark University and Grub Street, and is a Program Coordinator for the Disquiet International Literary Program. More from this author →