There is a paper little house with a paper little man. He has a wife and when they make love, there is the scritch scratch of paper rubbing against one another. Slow and uncertain then fast, fast, like paper flapping in the wind. When he comes, he leaves a light sprinkle of discoloration around her crotch, colored like oil when dropped on cotton—not there but clearly there, a darker spot to attest that he had been privileged with her.
As they lay together, she pats herself and looks at him. She smiles and that makes him smile. They are hopeful. She rests her head in the crook of his armpit and falls asleep, dreaming of papery things that smell like clove.
Together they conceive a little boy of lead. It was not an easy birth, and many tiny rips were torn along the way—an unfortunate result of consummation, the doctor explains to them, unfortunate, with skin so fragile as yours.
“Yeah, yeah,” the husband waves him away because though little, he did not like to feel less than anything or anyone.
On the child’s way out, he left tiny markings on his mother, pencil streaks blending with the oil-like stains. Though dizzy with the pain of childbirth, she smiles, happy now to have two men in her life. She pats herself happily, tiredly, watching fondly as her child is removed by the nurses.
At first, her husband is appalled, though he does not say anything at all. But once at home, he begins to have rising suspicions that it is not his and that perhaps she cheated on him, that she had slept with one of the Leads. They lived only three houses down after all. But she assures him, waving her arms to and fro, that she did not.
She loves him, “Love, Love. I love you, and only you. It just happens sometime. Perhaps I have a Lead in the family, or maybe you.” She caresses his frowning face, a crumpled ridge above his brows. She tries to smooth the creases from his face. “Stop now, Love. You are making crumples, and we may not be able to get them out.”
But he starts to cry, and she gasps. “Stop now. Stop now!” She says, now alarmed.
The tears make his skin drop and welt. Afraid to get her own hands wet, she removes them from his face. She watches in horror as he shakes his head violently side to side.
“You’ll make holes!” She cries.
“No. No. No,” the little paper man says, an angry V crumpled above his brows. He stomps his foot, his tiny hands balled into tiny little fists. He is a hardheaded man and sometimes he gets too angry.
He gets too angry and looks at her with that look of horror upon her face and he thinks that this must be the way she would look if she one day decided to cheat, and he can’t stand it. He just can’t stand it, so he strikes her there. Hard and fast against her face, her cheek swiftly tears, her jaw hanging agape.
Silence fills the room and slowly her hand goes to her face, feeling along the rough ridges of the tear. Her other hand immediately feels along the curve of her crotch. She looks at him. The oil on her body, the rips from childbirth, and the strike across her face—it all looks at him.
It looks at him hard and fast just like his strike and he is aware of his own cheeks welting from the moisture in his eyes.
What had he done, he thinks to himself. What had he just done.
Before his eyes, he watches hers recede farther and farther away from him, clouding in doubt and defense.
If it wasn’t for his already welting cheeks, he feels that he could cry.
Noelle Marie Falcis
Noelle Marie Falcis received her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing at UC Irvine. She is currently at Antioch University completing her MFA. She is an advocate of Hip Hop culture and strives to educate, uplift, and empower through combining the power of dance and writing. Find out more about her at noellemarie75.wordpress.com.
Photo: Natalia Drepina