by Thomas Kearnes

You often believed yourself sick. You felt chills, looked pale, felt weak. At that point, I found your hypochondria charming. Poor you, always moments before shattering into pieces. I waited for the privilege of collecting your remains. I wanted to put you together again. A small hard knot swelled beneath your jawline. Was it a goiter? Would you infect me with this mystery disease? I didn’t care. Load me with sickness and I will lurch toward your arms. We were in bed, and you felt warm. Too warm. I laid my hand across your forehead. It was slick with sweat. Your skin, all of it, felt hot and clammy. Your T-shirt was soaked. I bolted from the bed to find a thermometer. You had a fever, a high one. We couldn’t call your parents. They had no idea you snuck down to see me on weeknights. I called my mother. She advised me of the steps to cool you down. Stripping you nude, sponging you with damp washrags. You reached and felt the knot. What’s wrong with me? I told you everything would be fine. I wiped you down until the fever broke and sleep came. I kept on the desk light and stood watching. Remember this, I told myself. One day another man will cool his fevers, and this memory will fade. He will forget you.

Thomas Kearnes holds an MA in Screenwriting from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. His fiction has appeared or will appear in Berkeley Fiction Review, The James Franco Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Existere, A cappella Zoo, Gulf Stream Magazine, wigleaf, Spork, Underground Voices, PANK, Word Riot, Sundog Lit, 3 AM Magazine, Adroit Journal and elsewhere. His work has also appeared in several LGBT venues. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He is studying to become a drug dependency counselor. He lives in Houston.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru