The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Drowned in Light

Ben Spivey

On his twenty-sixth birthday she broke his heart, he was no longer the man she thought he was or should be.

She said, You’re no longer the man I thought you were.

They argued about it.

He wanted to argue about it, it felt good to argue about it. Screaming, yelling. He wanted to hit her.

He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to taste her lip.

She insisted he continue to live with her until he could find a new place.

Stay with me for a little while longer, she said, until you’re on your own feet.

He nodded.

Women do not make sense, he later wrote.

Two weeks had passed. During those fourteen days he’d flipped through the paper looking for a place to stay. He found a couple of places, but none he could afford, a few that needed roommates; he didn’t like that idea, didn’t like meeting new people.

He’d been sleeping on the couch.

On the sixteenth night, while lying on the couch, the moon at a peculiar glowing slant through the thin window curtains, he heard her sneak through the front door, the floor’s creaking. He heard an extra pair of feet, boot heels, a man’s boots. He smelt the man’s smell, the alcohol.

They had to walk past him to her bedroom. He held his breath and kept his eyes tight.

A moment later he heard male laughter, and he wondered if she’d told about him, the man on the couch, he imagined her saying, that’s my ex, how pathetic.

Eyes wide, looking into the walls, into the moon, into the light, and the light was the only thing there. Between time and out of time, he felt his brain turning cogs.

He heard the bed board banging against the wall while some other man’s voice said things about how good sex felt with her.

He grit his teeth thinking about death, thinking about different ways to die. Thinking about life, and different ways to live. He thought about time. And he thought about the uselessness of all of that.

Light under her bedroom door fluttered in beating breaths. He clenched. Wanted to vomit. Vomited, sink.

The light was the floor and that was the light. The light from the television set, all of its noise.

The television’s narrator.

The television blurred noise coupled with the joy of the man and the woman. The television set drowned the room in light and promise and praise.

How each morning the sun rose, he too had to rise, leave and never look back.

A small place inside of him wanted to go into that bedroom and kill the flesh.

He wanted to be dreaming, drowning, maybe he was, the narrator’s voice tuned.

The apartment door creaked and he slammed it behind him, exiting the home, paced and calm without understanding. That same calm that filled Christ on the cross, feeling that he deserved it, feeling that he was dreaming or that he did it to himself. Something like that. Something simply out of reach. He didn’t pack anything. He only took the heavy burden of sin on his back.

He scribbled in slants, a small note that he put in a drawer. And the television was glowing and moaning. The words on paper read, I might still love you.

He did not expect her to find it, or read it, or realize he had written it. Although his prose was unique, she never noticed.

His footsteps were loud on the creaking floor, cutting blur noise, gasping voices from inside.

Outside, a cold breeze.

About the author

Ben Spivey is the author of a novel, Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, forthcoming from Blue Square Press (2010). He also has words at or forthcoming from Abjective, Everyday Genius, Corduroy Mtn., and Dogzplot. He lives in Atlanta, has two cats, and blogs at