Mark sat at the center island and watched as she moved through the kitchen. Ellen stood on her toes and reached for a box of cereal. Her stretch made her t-shirt rise above her hips and he lingered on her nude frame below her waist. “I’ve forgotten what a great ass you have.” He reached down and adjusted himself through his boxer briefs.She turned and looked through him and walked to a cupboard behind his back. “Now you’re interested.”
He sat back and scratched the center of his chest through his t-shirt. “What does that mean?”Ellen walked to the refrigerator and took out the milk. “That’s the most boring sex I’ve ever had.”
“Okay.”“Seriously. Could you have been more bored?” She reached for two bowls and put them on the table.
Mark sat erect and leaned into his elbows until they touched the counter top. “I wasn’t bored.”She crossed her arms over her chest. “I was.”
He took his hands and put palms down on the counter and used his arms to lift him until he stood straight. “Shit.” He stood still. “I’m not used to these pills. I get so damn dizzy.”She walked over to a drawer beside the sink. She took two spoons from inside the drawer and turned and put them on the table.
When Mark felt oriented, he walked out of the room. He closed the bathroom door behind him and stood in front of the sink. He put a hand on each side of the porcelain and looked into the mirror and saw his dulled eyes. They didn’t match his mood. He leaned toward the mirror and dropped his head and looked at the drain. He leaked a sigh and whispered, “fuck” to the middle of the sink. He walked to the toilet, lowered his boxers with his thumbs, and looked at the stenciled paint. He pulled his boxers back to their place, flushed, washed his hands, and walked back into her kitchen. “Look.”Ellen had poured the cereal and the milk and looked up while she chewed.
“This was the first time I had sex since this heart thing started.” He sat down and lifted a spoon. “Is this skim milk?”“Yes.” She spoke through bites.
He swallowed. “Well, I was worried.”“Why? Just eat the cereal. You don’t have to drink the milk.”
“No,” he said with a full mouth. He swallowed. “No. I was worried about having a heart attack while we were having sex.”Ellen sat back and looked at him. “You’ve really changed.”
“Well, this is a new thing to me. I’ve got to get used to it.”“That’s not what I’m talking about. Even your conversation is tentative. Have sex? Since when did you talk like that?” She spooned another bite. “I don’t like it.”
He sat back on the chair. “Okay look. So I was too cautious. Fine. I get that. I’m sorry. But don’t take it personally. It had nothing to do with you.”“But that’s the part I don’t like. You walk in here. You’ve gained weight. Okay. And you’re nervous. That’s obvious. I can understand that. But the part I liked before was that you were the only man I’d ever known who totally lost himself during sex but still concentrated on me. That was the best part. You were like out of control but you knew I was there. Tonight was like neither of us were there.”
Mark silently sucked in his stomach and tried to roll the roll under itself. “I knew you were there.”“No you didn’t. You were so careful you barely touched me. I bet you’re not that careful by yourself.”
“Okay you’ve got to understand that I don’t know my limits yet. I don’t know what I can do and what I can’t.” He pushed his bowl away from him. “And mentioning my weight is just goddamned mean.”
“I’m not the kind to be so cautious.”“I have to be. Couldn’t you have just been nice to me? Would it have hurt you to be kind?”
“Apparently everything is about you getting hurt. I told you you didn’t know I was here.”“That’s not true.” He felt too tired to fight.
Ellen stood up and took her bowl to her sink. “So that’s it then?”
He stood up. “What?” He rinsed his bowl in the sink and set it on top of hers near the drain.“You’re going to be cautious?”
“I have to be.”“Until when? Is there any chance your heart will get better?”
“I don’t know. But I have to be careful. Look where carelessness got me.”“Well, now you’re just like everyone else.”
“What are you saying? I’m too tired for this.”“Everyone’s too cautious. Now you’re just another one. I’m going to bed. Just let yourself out.”
Mark sat down and watched the door swing into place.