Four days after Lane fucked me in my new one bedroom for the first time he asks how much I know about architecture while we’re under the hotel bedsheets. We’d just crawled under after doing what we do whenever he can sneak away from his husband because the air conditioner was too much but neither of us wanted to get up to turn it down. Nothing, I said. Why. I wonder if it’s as old as I think it is, he said. It looks like it could be from the 1800s, one of the oldest houses in town. We live in Indiana. This university is about to have its two-hundredth birthday, but no one seems to care but the administrators. Certainly not the undergraduates I share the house with. It’d been carved into four units decades ago. My apartment is small but it is all I need. While I’m at work they go to class and come back and get high and go out. They save up whatever pride they have in the university to let loose. Never mind they don’t seem particularly wound. They are a distraction from what I should be thinking about. It’s been over a year since I left my ex, and again I find myself in bed with a man I only fuck to keep from dealing with what I haven’t. When he’s inside me I don’t have to think about why I still live here. Lane asks if I know my neighbors very well. Is one of them named Chad, he asks. Yes, but I don’t know him very well. He’s not an undergrad, he says. He’s almost forty. A forced burst of laughter. And I see my future in how Lane describes him: a bitter gay college-town leftover, a graduate degree with nothing but time. Would something ever come along to prompt his departure. How easy to rest, Lane says, to let fear keep you from healing. We kiss again under the sheets, press skin to skin for warmth. I think your house used to be a farmhouse. It would’ve been the only building around for miles.

Doug Paul Case

Doug Paul Case

Doug Paul Case lives in Bloomington, where he recently earned his MFA from Indiana University. His work has appeared in Salt Hill, Hobart, Washington Square, and Wigleaf.
Doug Paul Case

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