Stranger Sleep


by Sarah Rose Etter


You make the call after you smooth pajamas over your skin and place your body into sheets. You put your head on a favorite softness and there is a moment when your mind goes blank.

But then the loneliness comes fast, slamming, a fist of your dead loves, all of their faces, jaws, hairlines, mouths. Their fingers touched certain parts of your body in different ways, with different pressures and you remember each heated torture.

The thought of their fingers makes your body a house of lack, each of your cells cold and needing, yearning.

There is want all over your skin and it creates a hard ache, your loneliness a thick onyx slab that presses down over you, your body held down by the cool hard heavy, your face up against slick black mineral.

This is when you feel for the phone.

“How can we help you?”

“I need one. Send one.”

“The same?”

“Any.”

“Fifty dollars. Be there in ten minutes.”

You lean back against your pillow and the next nine minutes stretch black desert miserable, you face it, you face it head on, you lay beneath the black rock and let it hurt, let it crush your ribs a little bit.

When the doorbell rings, the loneliness lightens and it is everything you can do not to let out a gasp of relief as you struggle out from under it. Trembling, you stand up and you open the door and it’s him.

He is tall and not handsome. You have never seen him before. He steps into your house and now the loneliness is a large black cube resting in your stomach.

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

You lock the front door and turn off the light.

Then you move down the hallway and he follows you.  In your bedroom, you climb into the bed and he does the same. You take your left side. He takes the right.

He turns to face you in the bed. He reaches out a hand and holds the side of your face for a moment, staring into your eyes. It is a calm pool look, it is simple, good. The loneliness is a dark mineral triangle in the center of your chest.

“Now?”

“Yes, please” and then you roll slowly over, putting your back to him and curling, waiting for him to do it, to finally do it.

Your body is electric with anticipation and then he does it, he moves his body around yours and presses, wraps his arms and one leg around you, buries his face into the back of your neck.

You exhale and go another type of soft, a softness unrecorded before, you sink back into him, rest your body on his thighs, chest, more. He holds tighter, tighter, and then your loneliness gets small, smaller, smallest until it is a pinprick, an inverse star, a dust inside of you.

 

"Regardless of What You Face" by Ernest Williamson III
"Regardless of What You Face" by Dr. Ernest Williamson III



Fiction

Note from Fiction Editors Jen Bannan and Frank Huerta
Church Avenue
by Adrian Astur Alvarez
Postmortem Photography by David Patterson
A Thousand Words by Christine Pivovar
The Perspective from Este Lado de la Frontera: An Interview with Benjamin Alire Sáenz



"Freedom" by Kate Koenig "Freedom" by Kate Koenig


Poetry

Note from Poetry Editors Laura Brun and Michelle Lin
Two Poems by Carol Dorf
Three Poems by Melissa Goodrich
Two Poems by Jeffrey Haynes
Two Poems by Vanessa Couto Johnson
The Museum of Everything Salty by Kristin Maffei
Love Advice from a Twenty-Sided Die by Martin Ott
Un-Muscled by Diana Roffman
A catalog by Afton Wilky
Sheets of rain against the surface of the see by Afton Wilky



"Delving Into Her Craft" by Ernest Williamson III "Delving Into Her Craft" by Ernest Williamson III


Nonfiction

Note from Nonfiction Editors Laura Clark and Rachel Wilkinson
The Family Way by Christine Kaiser Bonasso
Under My Father's Tree by Stephanie L. Liberatore
Bon Jellico by Anthony J. Otten



"Rebuilt Hot Metal" by Andy Beck "Rebuilt Hot Metal" by Andy Beck



Imagery 

Artist Gallery
Artist Spotlight: Dr. Earnest Williamson II

 

F_2013_Kate_Koenig-Locked_in_Love "Locked in Love" by Kate Koenig


Miscellaneous

Fall 2013 Contributor Bios
HMB Book Reviews
HMB Blog



"Wait" by Kate LaDew "Wait" by Kate LaDew



"St. Paul Revealed" by Dr. Ernest Williamson "St. Paul Revealed" by Dr. Ernest Williamson



F_2013_Philip_Sweet-Out_for_Some_Fresh_Air "Out for Some Fresh Air" by Philip Sweet



"Bard With Black Roses" by Ernest Williams "Bard With Black Roses" by Dr. Ernest Williamson III



"Sleep" by Kate LaDew "Sleep" by Kate LaDew



"Meters of Meters" by Philip Sweet "Meters of Meters" by Philip Sweet



"Untitled" by Dr. Ernest Williamson III "Untitled" by Dr. Ernest Williamson III

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