Salome Magazine
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LAce Posted Monday, October 16th, 2006
Occupational Hazard
Mary Lynn Reed

I hear the stairs creak and know she's home. I bury my head in the pillow, anticipating her heat as she pulls back the comforter and gets in.

She maintains her distance. Easy to do on the king-size she insisted we needed.

I roll over.

"Hi," she says.

"Busy tonight?"


She twitches and spasms; her toe vibrates. The never-ending pulsation of electronica: an occupational hazard. After twenty years in a bar you can't get that beat out of your head and the toe tapping becomes involuntary.

She's always moving.

We own the hottest lesbian club on the East Coast. It made us wealthy, but I tired of it years ago. The constant clanking of glass, that frenetic techno beat spun by the latest DJ, who grows younger and more beautiful every year.

The bar thrives and the space between us grows. I stay at home, eat too many potato chips and gourmet chocolate truffles, waiting for something I can't describe. I beg her to sell the place, to cash in and move on, to travel the world with me. She always refuses. She loves the vitality of it, the challenge of fighting off stagnation. Drawing the youth. Keeping it hip. In a business where longevity is unconscionable, we are triumphant.

I strain to see her in the dark.

Every woman that walks in the bar adores her. Why wouldn't they? She never lets six weeks pass without a detailed maintenance cut of her short brown hair. Spends her mornings in the sun, lounging by the pool or working in the garden, cultivating a constant tan. Her hands are large and veiny, but soft. Perfect lesbian hands. Even after twenty years, I yearn for them.

She crawls towards me under the sheets, her warmth inching closer. I roll away, with difficulty, like a slug slithering on the sidewalk. Feeling the fullness of my widening hips, I grip the roll of flabby flesh around my waist and squeeze, closing my eyes, grinding my teeth.

I never move.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Rhayn Time on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 12:42 PM
From one who has lived both worlds described in your writing...vividly described. Thoroughly enjoyed. Keep it up.

Posted by Margot Miller on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 3:14 PM
Mary Lynn, you always manage to express the universal through the particular. Great work.

Posted by Nancy Corbett [ ] on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 5:48 PM
The narrator is so lonely. What would be the price, I wonder, if she pulled in instead of away? What would she be surrendering? This flash is so full of longing. Wonderful writing.

Posted by Donna Levy [ ] on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 7:52 PM
This story was so well done. The characters may have been lesbians, but the issues were universal. I so admire your easy style. Thanks. Donna

Posted by Katrina Denza on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 8:17 PM
Excellent piece! The end is so sad.

Posted by Nonnie Augustine on Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 12:38 PM
The picture is painted well. I know them both. Nice work! Nonnie

Posted by Phyllis Link on Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 8:02 PM
Sad, but so imaginable. The paragraph starting "The bar thrives..." sums up the whole story. Well told.

Posted by Donia Carey on Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 11:00 PM
"The bar thrives and the space between us grows." This history of a love on empty is so sad. "She's always moving." "I never move." Beautifully written and memorable.

Posted by Bonnie ZoBell on Saturday, October 21st, 2006 at 11:10 PM
Beautiful piece, as always, Mary Lynn. Perfect title. Bonnie

Posted by Lesley C. Weston on Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 at 12:16 PM
Loved the slug line!

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