THE SQUEEZE • by Alexander Burns

It is, I believe, day seven of my time here. Every part of me aches. My captor, ever cheerful despite my agony, has no end of ways to inflict pain.

I was caught just outside that little deli on 4th. She was blonde and petite, with coy, sheepish eyes, as if custom designed for my tastes. We talked for hours, and I walked her home that evening. I didn’t see the black bag until it had been yanked over my face, months later. No one warned me. No one warned me what marriage would really be like.

Light in the corridor. She’s coming. There will be threats. In defiance, I’ll croak, “Honeymoon’s over, I guess?” Dark hands will close about, and my face will explode in pain. I struggle a little, bed sheets twisting around my ankles.

She doesn’t even ask any questions.

After a while, body mercifully numb, mind teetering on the edge of madness, she brings out the tools of her trade. Dull nails scrape across my skin. Light from a dim lamp glints off a pair of tweezers. Tissues wipe away the blood.

Finally I scream and thrash against my warden. “No more!”

“Stop crying, you dramatic baby,” she says. “It’s just an in-grown hair. Now hold still, I see a zit here.”

Alexander Burns lives and writes in Fort Worth, Texas, about whatever crazy stuff happens to occur to him at the time. His work has appeared in Every Day Fiction and A Thousand Faces.

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