We don’t have children. We were about to have one, but he died in the womb. Sure, I was grief-stricken, and yet it was relief that prevailed. I truly don’t know how we would have managed. In an outpouring of sincerity, I told her. Not even she, Virginia, wanted to become a mother, theoretically speaking. It’s just that she came to wrap her whole mind around it. It’s a thought she can’t free herself from. A tiger that crept up on her from behind and left the marks of its claws. Stretch marks. A thought that opened up subtle fault lines on her olive skin, indelibly tracing the map of the drama.
I look at the alarm clock, then at Virginia. She spends her days reading and dying. Nothing else. She doesn’t care for anything anymore. Cocaine, yes, but it’s an occasional splurge. She hardly speaks. Not long ago I asked her to try again and she said no, it’s better this way; it would not have been fair to me. She kills herself with beers. Discount beers that taste like rust and tears. So bitter.
I fumble in my underwear, lightly touching her butt with my hand, while she sleeps face-down. Strangely, she doesn’t notice. What can I say? Not even thunder wakes her up.
Ivan Ruccione’s stories have appeared in Italian literary magazines such as Nazione Indiana, Poetarum Silva, Altri Animali, Cattedrale, and in American AGNI Magazine, Minute Magazine and The Daily Drunk. He is author of a story collection Troppo tardi per tutto (Too Late for Everything; Augh Edizioni, 2019, preface by Helena Janeczek). He was born in 1986 and lives in Vigevano, a historic town near Milan.