“Hold Me Closer” by Zacc Dukowitz
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Zacc Dukowitz can’t find the right words.
After the ceremony, she wanted to go back to the room for a moment before the reception, which was going to be held in the master ballroom. She needed to freshen up she said. Just go ahead without me. But he had his suspicions, so he trailed along after her against all of her protests.
“I’ll just be a sec,” she said when they got to the room, and went into the bathroom. The door clicked closed, and, as always, she did not turn the lock. Like she’s trying to show the world that she has nothing to hide, he had thought before and thought again now.
He stood in the middle of the room with his hands in his pockets for a count of 120—just two minutes but it felt like a very long time—and then he turned the knob and walked into the bathroom after her. She had the baggie open and was tapping white powder out of it onto the marble countertop.
“I was just—” she began to say.
“Look,” he said. He held his hand out to emphasize the word. “Look,” he said again. But he hadn’t thought this far. In his head he had imagined coming back with her, catching her in the act, and then . . . what?
Now that his plan had worked he felt bad, like he’d walked in on a stranger who was in the middle of changing. He wished he’d just gone ahead to the reception.
“You set me up,” she said when he hesitated, changing her tone. She stiffened and stepped toward him, her eyes flashing. She pointed at him as she spoke. “You knew what I was coming in here to do, and you set me up. You couldn’t just talk to me about it. Couldn’t just say—”
“Come here,” he said, and reached for her. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
She went to him, but her body was stiff. “Come on,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. He rested his chin on her shoulder. “We’ll figure this out,” he said. “We’ll figure this out.”
He tried to sway with her, like they were dancing, but she didn’t move.
“John,” she said.
“Don’t. Don’t say anything. Just hold me close, like that song.”
She did, but her grip was loose.
“’Hold me close, I’m tired of dancing,’” he whispered in her ear. He touched his lips to her ear. “’Count the headlights on the highway.’”
“Those aren’t the words.”
“What?” He moved his head back as if he wanted to look at her, but he kept his eyes on her hair, which was so close to his face. He could smell her, a smell he knew well, and the smell made him drunk. He swayed slightly with her body in his arms.
“You know that song,” he said. “You know, hold me close, whatever. It doesn’t matter. Just come here.”
“But you said—I know you think it’s ‘I’m tired of dancing.’ I’ve heard you sing it before, and you just said it now, and—but it’s not ‘I’m tired of dancing,’ it’s—”
“Come here,” he said. “Come here, it doesn’t matter. Just hold me close, that’s all I’m saying.”
“It’s hold me closer. In the song he says hold me closer.”
He pulled her to him and she let it him do it.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said, and closed his eyes. “Just hold me close, it doesn’t matter.”
He put his chin on her shoulder and squeezed his eyes closed and she let him rock her. She let him, but she was thinking, It’s tiny dancer. Hold me closer tiny dancer, you, hold me closer as he tried to, as he swayed her body, as he moved his body back and forth holding her tightly in his arms.
ZACC DUKOWITZ holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Florida, and his work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, PANK, the American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He wrote dialogue for and played the lead in the independent film I Am Death, and he currently lives on Lake Atitlan in rural Guatemala with his wife and two dogs, Scout and Boo Radley. Check out his website to see more of his work: www.zaccdukowitz.com, and follow him @ZaccDukowitz.
Submissions for the Thursdaze series are currently closed. Please visit our submission page for detailed information.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Oct 20, 2015
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