The Bruise:


I noticed it days after--its edges spread like a wash of watercolors. I rarely remember the source--a puzzle to figure out. I thought anonymity would make me wild, desirable. Instead, I discovered my arms are much too thin to hide my body.

"Let's dance," he said. A thumbprint on my wrist.

We decided to drive--crashed drunkenly through the snow and tried to put chains on his hatchback. It took an hour to drive home. It's a ten minute walk.

"I'd like to stay and keep kissing you." There were piles of snow-soaked clothes. "There are always more clothes when it's cold."

"We should have a plan," he said. "Do you have one?"

A plan? Yes, but just one and I can't find it. "Sorry." I said, trying to laugh it off. He slept soundly, probably happier to be in my bed than by my side.

"Would you like my number?" he asked.

"I'm not going to call you."

I ran my fingers over the mottled lump, glad to have this memento at least--deep purple of scripted ink, green of a vacation spot, yellow of the sun behind a playful smile--all distilled into an early moring and pressed between the pages of a narrow, hairless thigh.

SUSAN BELLER  is finishing her M.A. in English at Western Washington University where she also instructs composition and edits for The Bellingham Review.