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And paper lanterns and orchids growing on the masts. I won’t hurt you. I’ll take care of you, fuck you all the way to the South China Sea.” When she next opens her eyes it’s still dark although she knows it must be dawn. Last night’s snow has chilled the room. Jimmy lies next to her, his breathing loud and irregular. She clicks on the lamp next to the bed and reads the time. Five o’clock. She sits up, feeling exhausted and headachy. Maybe if she starts the coffee. She rises and walks naked and barefoot through the living room, where the tv is still on with no sound, just images dancing across the screen, then on into the kitchen, where she finds Benny on the floor of his cage, his feet curled, his head at an odd angle. There’s enough light from the Christmas tree to see he’s beyond her help. At the window she looks out. There’s no one in the street, only a man at the window of a neighboring apartment, both his hands to the glass, looking back. There’s a wounded sound coming from inside her head. Back in the bedroom, she grabs her robe. She sits in a rocking chair facing the bed and rocks, holding the edges of her robe tightly together. She waits. She calls his name. When there’s no response, she calls to him again. His eyes open. “Did you kill Benny?” The bedsprings give as he gets up. He looks thinner in this light, thinner than he did last night. “Did I?” he asks. Then he tells her that he got up in the middle of the night to watch television and the bird kept calling out. Jimmy’s eyes are still and steady, as if some sediment has settled, allowing her to see, not remorse, but that killing is something that rises naturally to the surface of life. There’s a moment of transference, an understanding of their identities, it’s there in the curve of his mouth, that they are not teacher and soldier, but someone’s daughter, floating beneath the surface, and a warrior turned feral. He reaches out and strokes her hair, automatically, with an unpracticed tenderness. She listens as he crosses the room to the bathroom to urinate, wash his hands, pull on his clothes. She hears him say something about Salazar being the lucky one, hears the door open and close, followed by footsteps in the hall and down the stairs. SHIRLEY SULLIVAN

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Profile for Carolina Quarterly

Carolina Quarterly 68.2 Spring/Summer 2019 Sneak Peek  

Carolina Quarterly 68.2 Spring/Summer 2019 Sneak Peek  

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