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Feel bad for Roy, for the shitty way you were with him.  Whatever you did was nothing, and  so it was something. Roy’s hands were bumpy with warts and you didn’t want to be his link during Farmer-in-the-Dell or Red Rover. During Swinging Statues, you yelled, “Don’t move, Roy!” from wherever you flung him with the great yank of your arm.  You liked being his God, freezing him in place. He licked his lips, and wore a chapped half circle on his face, every other molecule stilled in obedience. You thought of him as scabby. Roy lacked the shellac of sarcasm. On the playground you’d dissolve Roy like baking soda in a glass of water, the urge to squash him, or anyone like him, a nickel in your throat.

Roy graduated with bit-through pens in his shirt pocket, his eyebrows smooth as a girl’s, his corduroys pressed, a striped white shirt fully tucked. After community college, he cared for his parents until they died. He delivered the mail, never got dog-bit. 

He pined over the girl above him, Apartment C to his B. He sometimes licked the cancelled stamps on her mail. Her activity across his ceiling he plotted, really plotted, on graph paper, papers askew on his kitchen counter dated and bearing his signature. Her shoes plunked his head. He charted her like she was the sea and he was Columbus.

Come winter, she loaded skis and small luggage into a Checker Cab, ponytail out the back of a knit cap, a navy wool pea coat, boots that tied, laces across hairy innards spilling from the linings. Roy’s tethers stretched thin, invariant. His reach was off.

What could he do but accept the cold sun in the window while her uncut mail  anchored his ceiling with ever-more despicable weight? He quit showing up for work, he quit everything, limited his limbs to the window. Call him dormant, or froze.

To be a small fly there, then the leg of a fly, the hair on the leg of a fly, the pore or the place from where a fly’s leg hair emerges. He felt this hair like a stick on his tongue where food could not pass, felt his ribs fold and his electrons flag, until it hardly mattered where she was.

He heard his innards thrumming slowly, dully. See him and his egg-shaped head, his alabaster skin, his squint eyes, his scoop of brown hair? Thirty-year old statue, his cheekbone to glass, strict down to his eyes, Roy Mannequin, playground perfect, still.

And you, entering hoary with weather, blithe even, your mountain shussing explodes like confetti dotting his shoulders, or dandruff, to bear him away once the heat and your indoor vibe click on.

Donna Vitucci’s stories, poems, and creative non-fiction have been published in print and online since 1990. Her novels In Euphoria, Salt of Patriots and At Bobby Trivette’s Grave are 5-star-reviewed. Her most recent novel, All Souls, is available through Magic Masterminds Press. A Midwestern girl, she has relocated to the North Carolina piedmont, where she enjoys gardening, reading, walking and yoga.