Coco licked my elbow while Jason taped my ankles and I pretended not to be disappointed. I reclined in the wobbly computer chair, damned sure that I was ready for love. The dog’s charm had waned though and Jason, whose eyeballs were two inches from my toes, didn’t seem to understand. Or perhaps it was I who didn’t understand. It was I, of course, who had thought the “Come over so I can tape your ankles” text message meant sex. Outside of my comfort zone sex, sure, but sex nonetheless. I had abandoned my Li Po immediately, not even bothering to shave. Had I even closed the garage door?
“Keep your foot flexed,” Jason said, pulling the white adhesive tight under my arch.
He had rolled my leggings up to my shins. The leg there was prickly and scarred and slumped down to thick ankles. The tighter my ankles were wrapped, the more grotesque they looked as the fatness from my calves bulged out of the sides. I tried to deflect the focus from my physical flaws by means of trivial conversation.
“Your hair’s getting longer,” I said.
It wasn’t a lie. His hair was getting longer. He was alive, after all.
“Yeah, and my belly’s getting bigger,” he said, lifting his shirt up to expose a pale pouch and the dark appendix scar that I used to kiss. Jason let the shirt drop. He tore the tape and pressed it into place over my ankle. He glanced over at the sports medicine textbook on the bed to make sure he was doing it right.
“There,” he said. “All done. How does it feel?”
“Tight, I guess,” I said. “I don’t know. How is it supposed to feel?”
“Do you feel like you can run forever?” Jason asked, twirling the ring of tape on his index finger. “You’re ankle is supposed to feel stabilized. Does it feel that way?”
I walked around the bedroom to see if I felt any more stable. Jason’s new rental was just as barren as the last. The unmade bed wedged into the corner of the room had always filled me with sadness. The hardwood floor was covered in dust and dog hair.
“It feels fine,” I said.
“Good,” Jason said, pulling back the computer chair that had rolled away upon my standing up. “Now come sit back down so I can do your arm.”
I turned back to walk toward the wobbly chair. Jason’s shirt had fallen back down in a crumpled way that kept the small of his back exposed. The skin there was bronzy and smooth with small blonde hairs that trailed down to his ass. My ankles had never felt weaker. What a terrible concept, I thought, to have to run forever.
Nicole Rivas earned a B.A. in English from California State University, San Bernardino in 2012. Her fiction has appeared in The Pacific Review and Thickjam and is forthcoming in Per Contra and Apocrypha & Abstractions. Nicole lives and writes in Temecula, California.