Naked, Lloyd’s in the bedroom. Light fangs delicately like 10,000 moths through lace curtains, ladling itself down Lloyd’s bare, shaking body. He pours Dottie’s urn ash into the waterbed—a 86 degree plastic polyvinyl sack, spreading cremations of his wife Dottie into the place he bedsores into, a place he rarely rises from. He’ll spend life’s lasts with Dottie, turning the temperature knob from medium to high for his darling.
Tubes small as water snakes squirm across the floor, filled with saline, suckle into Lloyd’s nostrils. His kneecaps hang in nooses, as if time gradually engineers collagen’s infrastructural collapse. Viewable almost: the electrical wiring of his blue, yellow, red veins and vessels that firework into knotted clots around his wrists.
As Dottie’s cremated ash is poured into the waterbed hole, she fiddleheads cursively into a grey being. Inside the plastic, her oscillating mass solids. Lazily, she floats in quaver, a smoky shape that curls. Dottie crescendos into geometric shapes that curve anatomically. Two single, dribbling grey lines of ash extend from the bodily mass. They form two cylinders that percolate into the formation of lips. Her lips, underwater, against plastic, ruffle in their cascading.
Lloyd pulls the tubes from his nose and crawls naked onto the bed. Plastic shrills. His loose skin peels itself from warm polyvinyl while wading through cremated ash that didn’t make it into the waterbed hole. He drops to his belly at Dottie’s formed mass. Burnt remnants of her spread across his arms and legs. Inside the waterbed, Dottie’s color changes from pink, white, to beige. She tides into skin’s color and surges into the slopes of skins concaves, holes, and convexes. Alive again, her beauty undulates, crinkling underwater. Dottie’s thighs ripple into being. Air sacs bead out her nostrils. The eyes tip into buzzing circles. Where Lloyd stretches his arms, she stretches hers. When he closes his eyes, hers fizz into an effervesce that spills toward the bed’s wooden panels like a hazel oil spill. Dottie’s hair octapuses around Lloyd’s hands. Suddenly, she crests into trillions of bubbles that surge against the warm plastic as she whitecaps into nothingness.
Each morning after, Lloyd pushes ten orchids into the waterbed hole, waiting for his wife’s return. At life’s end what does one say to the other who began it, swelled it? Before death, Lloyd and Dottie’s bowl of grapefruit on a birch table spoke what their mouths couldn’t remember. Lloyd no longer beds the water bed with sheets, pillows, blankets. He dreams bare on polyvinyl plastic that’s stuffed with cracked, green stems and oily blossoms that plead for light. A dream suctions nightly to him. He dreams his heart is a bedsore. A nurse turns it over seven times a day.
Danielle Lea Buchanan
Danielle Lea Buchanan’s poetry, hybridities, collaborative art, fiction, book reviews, interviews, teaching guides and oddities have appeared or are forthcoming in in McSweeney’s, Mid-American Review, New Orleans, Puerto del Sol, New Delta Review, Noemi Press, Psychopomp, Robot Melon, Cosmonauts Avenue, Literary Orphans, Occulum, Dinosaur Bees, f(r)iction, New York, Whole Beast Rag, Crag and other elsewheres. Currently, she’s a MFA candidate at Iowa State University and visual art director for Flyway. She was shortlisted for the Master Review’s Fall Fiction contest judged by Kelly Link, and winner of Passages North’s Ray Ventre Nonfiction prize selected by Jenny Boully.
Artwork: Sherstin Schwartz