“Oh, it makes me so light,” she says. “I could near float up to God.” Her pant is rabbit fast into his shoulder, her fists small knobs of bone at his belly.

That small-eared doctor had cautioned calm, so her thin-walled and protein-starved heart would not rupture, but Wyatt can’t stop. Two years he’d been in lockup, that doctor draining his bank account with therapy sessions, and Lurline still wasn’t better. It looked like she hadn’t even tried.

Underneath him, Lurline feels like a handful of ten-penny nails. All elbows and flaring ribs. Looking at her makes Wyatt think of cleaning fish.

Two years gone, taking the wrap for her screw-up on that heist and she won’t even buy the damn groceries now. Won’t even glance at food. If prison had taught Wyatt anything, it was that people need to be forced into right decisions.

“Eat this,” Wyatt says, shoving the creamy end of a bitten Twinkie at Lurline’s face.

Her mouth clenches. She squirms under his bulk, legs twitching for purchase between his.

With his free hand Wyatt grabs Lurline’s jaw and pries her teeth apart, shoving his fingers into her mouth. A whimper curls from her throat. Wyatt jams the Twinkie in with his palm and slips his fingers free.

Lurline tries to spit the twinkie out.

“Chew.” Wyatt works her jaws with his hand. “Eat like a normal person for damn once.”

Lurline twists to bring her knee up into him, but her leg is pinned by his weight.

“You eat and it’ll go back the way it was before I went away,” Wyatt says. “That’s all I want.”

Wyatt kisses her Twinkie-swollen cheek, her forehead warm with struggle, her trembling, gelid eye as it closes while her jaw works against the forced chewing.

Lurline yields to his weight and swallows. Wyatt’s breath unsnarls and he plops on the couch next to her, waxen and spent, looking at the smeared cream on her wrinkling chin, the crumbs wobbling in throat folds. Her face wrenches sweat-slick and bone-jarred, her eyes now open, indistinct with water and a need the food won’t satisfy. Wyatt wraps his fingers over her scissoring knee and listens to breath fill her chest, hoping that her heart will hold its blood and not burst.

~ fin ~

Brad Green lives in Texas with his wife and three children. His work appears in Needle, The Minnesota Review, The Texas Observer, Surreal South '11, and elsewhere. He's an associate editor at PANK magazine and can be found online at