Matthew Salesses


A World Without Legos

Rain rolled in and on the TV we stormed the castle. We swung our controllers like hands. Soon the wifely woman gave up to watch the gloom outside. I thought the boy would continue to play—what else were boys for?—but he joined her. I killed the king. The game gave the option to spare the queen, but I wanted the level to end faster. I felt the growing mood. In the game, the rain could wash the dead from their graves. I had seen this secret the day before and meant to keep it from the boy. But I could see now he already knew about rain. He didn't mention his mom; he only stood there and took the wifely woman's hand and let the real rain lure silence. Yet the wifely woman drew him close, as if under an umbrella, and apologized for our unguarded lives.


Good Thing She Had Money

The wifely woman borrowed her old bed—her parents had kept it decadeless, not such a surprise for Asian parents—and the first thing the boy did was wet the mattress pad as if contesting the territory. "It's okay," we both said, getting ahead of each other with sympathy. I felt impressed by his sense of ownership. The wifely woman thought he feared sleeping there because of her, as if a night's rest in her history would make him forget his mother. Though maybe it was the scent of moths and mothballs, maybe it was more animal. We let him pee on our bed, to show it didn't matter, not such a surprise for Asian parents.


She Was Digestive to a Tract

Did it matter if the wifely woman loved the boy because of me? When she made up her mind to love you, she swallowed you whole. Hers was love as intestinal fortitude. I had always wanted to be digested (I had wanted someone who understood how to break me down)—but the boy? After his last visit, he had stayed in the window glass, a fading breath, and she had kept him there. Each day, she had breathed in the same spot. It wasn't clear what the force was that acted on us.


When You Look into the Sun You See Its Shadow for a Moment Afterward

I remembered the day I'd asked her to marry me. I had planned nothing; I hurt with her so much it hurt. She shut her eyes and my lungs blistered. I thought engagement with one hot breath. She shook her head without opening her eyes. She said, "When I look up, go back in time." I said, "Go forward." We did both, we thought.


Arts and Crafts

The wifely woman and I taught the boy to make ice cream. I had learned in school and never gotten over the salt. The ice cream you could make in the Dead Sea, I had thought. I didn't mention this to the boy because what if he didn't get the difference between a place and death. He'd just stopped talking about his mom as in alocation. The wifely woman and I made competing vanillas, shaking the cans until our arms hurt. The boy taste-tested. I imagined a prize for losing. But what he liked best was Fudgesicles. He had a cheap tongue he was only learning to wield, which wasn't from me. I didn't mention his mom. The next day, the wifely woman brought home a box of Fudgesicles and we used the sticks to make something we could tear down.