“How you doing, Mackie?” Claudia, the nymph, my little vixen, lying upon the grass, staring up at the clouds floating by, asked. Strawberry hair cut just below the ear, layered of course. She favored clove cigarettes on cool winter days like these, days before the freeze. The wind, soft and cool, fell over her, pulling upon her summer dress. She held the helm down with one hand to keep from fluttering around. If I breathe too hard, she once told me, I’m afraid I’d lost grasp on reality. Float on by, float on and on, away from you.
“You’ll never float away from me, Claudia.”
“But I have. You just haven’t noticed.”
Fucking Anderson in the back room. The stench of our sex. Sprawled out on the mattress, she watches in relative calm. I’m spooned in the middle, cradling both in my arms, afterward.
“I don’t believe in sexuality,” I say. “It’s just not for me.”
“So what does fucking us bring you?” asks Claudia.
“Pleasures,” Anderson remarks, smiling.
“It gets me closer to who I was before the transformation.”
Claudia extended an arm out, waiting for me to grasp her hand tightly. Waiting to lead me from all this. Claudia, my angel, my nymph, standing five-f00t-three.
“My problem is,” she started, “I love you, Mackie. I love you, too much.”
That was only half her problem. The other half, more silent, more ominous, was that I was incapable of returning any affection.
Anderson drowned himself in sex, filling his calendar with boys and boys and more boys. Claudia hid her secrets elsewhere. Both were lost to me now. Both were just floating on by, while I remained grounded in my routine.