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Matt Mattila
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slumb.jpg
Art by Noelle Richardson © 2014

Her Slumber

 

Matt Mattila



          Sleeping is death.

    Death is sleeping. It’s the slumber you can’t wake up from. Sometimes in this job that need nags you. You want to lay back on the seat, close your eyes. By three in the morning it’s screaming for you. Your eyes are sandbags. Every piece of you wants to shut down.

    But I can’t. Not tonight. It could be permanent. I don’t want to end up like you, dead in the rain.

    I wish I could’ve known you alive. The beautiful ones are always lonely.  You’re too good for me. But I’ve still been alone my entire life. The badge will do that to you. You’re too busy to fall in love.

    Tonight I think I’ve got a little space for you, if you let me. There’ll be five seconds before the coroner gets here and puts you in a bag and drags you away forever. Bring a sweater, girl. It’s gonna get cold.

    I shoulda brought an extra jacket. I’d give you mine but it’s already soaked through.  We put a tarp under you so at least you won’t get muddy. Your jeans have spots of dirt on ‘em but still show off that long curve. They’re intact. He didn’t try touching you, at least. Your buttoned coat’s been cut through. His knife was too big. The slashes down your chest were too long to let you live. Your shirt’s in bloody shreds, sticking to your skin in flaps. I don’t know how your bra stayed on.

    Your hair is still tied up and brown. The blood caked under your knot’s starting to dry. A few loose strands are stuck to your face. It’s clean enough. Two inches back is a fucking horror story. The back of your neck is a mess. You’re damn lucky you’ve still got your head. He was trying to saw through it when that old man found you. I’m sorry you have to keep looking up, that you can’t even roll on your side and sleep. The rain keeps bouncing off your face like bombs. We had to put a brick underneath your neck just to keep your head from sliding off. I know it’s uncomfortable.

    Your eyes are glass now. I know you want to keep looking at heaven. I want to keep staring into your deep brown eyes. There’s still a glint there. I want it to be. I want you to be alive.

    Give me a second. Let me close your eyes.   

    Your eyelashes are too long, even with the mascara running in black, haunting tears down your face. Your eyelids are too thin. You are still staring at me. I can feel it. You still wear your red gloss proudly. Your lips are still plump. Kissable. Cold.

    I wish you could talk. Let me hear your voice. Tell me your name. I won’t know for another week with DNA. A month if we have to hold a press conference. Maybe never.

    Tell me where you’re from, what you like to do, your favorite movie, a good song. Let me ask you out to dinner. Let me watch your red lips smile and answer “yes.”

    Summon me into your arms, late at night.

    Make me feel you against me, warm, breathing, the first woman in five years. Make me fall in love with you.

    He took that opportunity away from both of us. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your age (barely twenty, I’m sure), your favorite color. Some I will never know. But I still need you.

    I will find him. I will make him bleed as bad as you. I will make him feel your pain.

    He will die for you. It is a promise I can only make in the rain filled night, in front of your pale cold corpse.

    Until then feel free to haunt me in the darkness.




Falling

by Matt Mattila

 

I saw you this morning. I don’t think you recognized me. You were in a hurry, anyway, like you were running from something.

           From this distance, you are still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. It’s too bad you’re always so far away, somewhere else. I don’t deserve you.  I will stand here and admire you from afar. You’re always on your phone. You must be popular. You have a lot of friends.

          I wonder if any of them want you as bad as me. I wonder if any of the men in your contact list have dreamt of you. I wonder if you have ever summoned someone—if you’ve ever thought about someone so much that they appear everywhere you go. You’re lonely. Through your blonde locks and long curves and pale, soft face, surely you need me as much as I need you.

          You have fifteen men on your list. They text you, trying to be sweet, trying to compliment you on your latest selfie. I wonder who you’re texting now. Maybe Craig. Or Daniel. Or Felix. Maybe Alexis just broke up with Chris. Maybe someone needs to know about your new shoes that took you a half hour to pick out. It shouldn’t take that long to decide between black and blue.

          You have a nice car, too. Cute little sedan to go clubbing and shop at the mall in. Mine’s just a cheap little piece of shit. I wonder how much your father paid for it. I got mine at the same dealership for five grand less. Same make. Same model. They had another one in your color but I resisted getting white. I went with dark red.

          You drive too damn fast. It’s hard keeping up with you. I’m three cars away but I have all my focus on you. Even if I lost you, I’d know where you were going, anyway. It’s ten o’clock at night. The roads are almost empty. You’ve been out since the morning. You want to go straight home and crash in bed. And I want to be there with you.

          You didn’t feel my eyes burning through the windshields, screaming I want you.

          You didn’t see me the entire time.

          Your place is nice, for a studio. Probably should’ve said something earlier. Your landlord just needs to trim the grass a little. I wonder when you’ll put on a show for me, slipping off the clothes in your bedroom.

          I wonder how easy the window opens.

          I wonder if the carpet covers squeaky floors.

          I wonder if your blood’s as warm as your skin.

 

 


bluefilm.jpg
Art by Noelle Richardson © 2015

Blue Film

Matt Mattila

          Justin found her online. It wasn’t hard. The girl made it too easy.

          She wasn’t on a dating service, or blog, or modeling page. The redhead  slipped the clothes off of her pale, warm flesh and posted it on a porn site.

          It wasn’t the first time he had seen her. In person, she had long red-blonde hair, a soft face with bright eyes and pink lips, a good body with a long curve and ample features. She was stunning. The girl knew it. Justin could only admire her from a distance. He couldn’t remember her name.

          He’d met her at school, on campus. He didn’t have a class with her. They hadn’t talked. He didn’t have a crush on her then. Now, with the blue computer screen shining in his face, the only light in a studio apartment filled with darkness, Justin knew that he would want this girl forever.

          He stopped daydreaming long enough to stare at the screen again. He shook the mouse and the stars ran away. The website popped up—logo in the corner: a nine trying to break out of  a ball, black and purple columns stretching vertically and across the rest of the screen. Between, in even rows, small yellow script sent him to any bedroom, shower, staircase, or bathtub he wanted. The words let him experience S&M or Lesbians or Bondage or Anal, if he was into any of those things. Sometimes he was.

          But tonight he only needed the redhead again. The girl he’d seen. The one he would always come back to.

          He had to see her one more time.

          It wouldn’t matter if he got nothing out of this. He would do anything for this goddess now. 

          At once, Justin found her in his browser history. After the loading page and title came her face, hair flipped to one side like a red river. Her glossed lips parted in a knowing smile. Her grey eyes sparkled, clawed at his soul. You know you want me, they said. She might have been in the middle of a moan. White tank top straps glided off her shoulders to reveal pale, lonely skin.

          He bookmarked the page, made the girl a favorite, not giving a fuck if anyone else could see it from his computer. The only other person who’d ever used it had left him two months ago. She was never coming back. And now, with a different half-naked girl in front of him, Justin finally didn’t care.

          All he would ever need was the ginger girl by his side, in his bed.

Someday.

          But tonight, he clicked on her still portrait again, the girl a willing prisoner in the frame. He had to have her. The click seemed to take forever. His whole body shook. Now he’d have to wait for the buffer.

          The girl went full-screen. Every detail of her beauty—her soft face, the promise of the body beneath the thin layer of clothes—filled his eyes. Her video was muted. She didn’t need sound.

          It started with the girl close-up on the camera—a webcam, judging by the quality. Nothing but her face, a soft smile widening to show perfect teeth. Her hair flowed behind her ears, encompassing her face. She mouthed a word—okay—maybe preparing herself for what she’d do next.

          She glowed.

          She swayed.

          She danced.

          He watched.

          He wanted.

          His bloodshot eyes drew in every detail of her bedroom –the low bed fitted with green sheets, the white walls, the slide-out closet way behind her. The wall-high window that let her back into the sun.

          He’d have to find this place, and make love to her there.

          Justin paused the video. Twice, he had already seen the other nine-and-a- half minutes. His entire body felt like it was filled with lead. He glanced at the computer clock—3:58 A.M.  In three hours, he had to play cashier at Walmart.

          It was time to sleep and dream about her.

 

          The girl was everywhere. Justin was sure of it. He saw her face on every woman he rang up at the register. Through bloodshot eyes, every girl became her.

She followed him from the corner of his eye. She was everywhere. Every sweep of long hair meant she was there, waiting. The six-hour shift was torture. He tried to daydream. He stopped looking, started listening for her voice.

          He had never heard the girl’s voice. She could sound like anybody.

          When a woman talked, his head swung around. He would recognize her because she’d been working here, all along. Maybe that co-worker mumbling to herself while cleaning up a spill at her register. Or she was a customer talking on the other side of the store. Or a high school girl bitching on her phone.

          He never stopped looking. But she was never there.

          Six long hours: another forty-something dollars in his pocket. Back to the apartment with cracked walls and no kitchen table. Back to the loneliness. Back to the girl in the video.

          The last nine-and-a-half minutes of blue film. Then bed. Then, in the morning, school: the Tuesday classes he hated. The classes he was forced to take so he didn’t waste all of that loan money.

          Justin scanned every female face he encountered. Every face looked like hers till he turned to get an actual look. Till he went down to the café and sat at the counter where windows overlooked the entire campus.

Outside, the rain was relentless. Girls were mere outlines. Only from this distance could they stop looking like her.

          He sipped from the paper cup, sucked on the ice once the soda was gone. He set the cup down next to the tray.

          Next to him was a ginger girl, circling her soup with a spoon. Her hair was pushed over to one side of her head. Her face was soft, with spare makeup. She was beautiful.         

          He kept looking at her, but her face didn’t change.

          What to say? A million questions bubbled under the surface. He swallowed, tried to speak without stuttering.

          “You—like it here?”

          Her grey eyes glared at him. She half-smiled, then looked down at the soup. When she shrugged, her hair moved with her shoulder.

          “Haven’t been going here long enough, I guess,” she said finally. “I’m a freshman.”

          “Really?” His voice cracked. “You don’t look much like a freshie.”

          She smiled.

He smiled back, held out his hand. She took it, gently.

          “Justin,” he said.

          “I’m Erin,” she said.

          “Irish enough?”

          She grabbed her hair, held it up. The last time he saw her do this, she was slipping off a tank top.

          “I’m a ginger,” she said. “Of course I’m Irish.”

          She laughed. Justin smiled back, looked at her eyes.

This would be easier than he thought.

         

          Three weeks later, Justin was in the green-sheeted bed. In the last half-hour, Erin had twisted in more ways than he’d imagined. Every part of her was natural.

          At last, every piece of her was his.

          It was midnight. In seven hours, they both had classes. The last half hour had drained them. She lay her hand across his chest. He held her close, kissed her forehead one more time.

          She breathes, he thought.  She’s real.

          In the darkness, she tried to look up at him.

          “Can I tell you a secret?” he whispered. He shifted nervously, took his arm from her side.

          He felt her nod.

          “Before we met,” he said, “I found you online.”

The truth ran hollow. He felt her shaking.

“You were doing a striptease,” he said, “On video. I saw it on the Web site.”

She didn’t answer.

          “Erin,” he said, “you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.”

          She mumbled his name.

          “Yeah?” he whispered.

          “I’ve never posted a video in my life.”

          By morning she was gone.


Matt Mattila has been writing fiction since he was ten years old. Moonlighting as a food runner, busboy and host, he spends his free time wishing he could come up with a pen name weirder than his real one. After a childhood of five different middle schools in three states he lives on the wrong side of a Connecticut city. Find him on Facebook.

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