Mandatory Options

Robert Cole

The disaster in the piazza takes Megan’s mind off having sex with Mike’s friend.

Likewise, Mike’s friend is distracted.

Mike however does not care about the piazza.

The cause became a part of the sideline a long time ago.

What Mike cares about is Megan. In return, Megan does not care for Mike. This is the cause of some misunderstanding. Megan prefers to care for and have sex with Roy, Mike’s friend. This makes Mike feel bad a lot. Mike is not systemically lost or existentially divorced from reality, he just feels bad a lot.

Mike should just leave Megan alone, run away, start a life elsewhere. Mike tries to leave all the time and they shoot him, usually in the leg. Megan and Roy laugh a lot. Megan helps wrap Mike’s wound, simultaneously making out with Roy. Megan used to be Mike’s wife. Now it’s not that way.

Most nights Mike is required to remain in their room while Roy has thorough sex with Megan. Megan compliments Roy on his ability to deliver such groundbreaking sex, so much better than Mike, “that coward in the corner” she says, climaxing. Mike doesn’t cry anymore. He tries to stare at the dresser. Mike likes how the contours of the dresser flow together into a clean, singular mass. Megan begs Roy to come like Mike never could. Roy complies. Megan thanks Roy for a job well done and brings Mike a bowl of cereal.

Thanks” says Mike.

Megan applies ointment to Mike’s handcuffs. She shakes the dresser to ensure it’s heavy enough to keep Mike in his place. Satisfied, Megan meets Roy in the garage to go over the next event.

Mike eats his cereal alone in the dark sex room. He looks at a poster involving a white Camero. Mike would not be surprised if he were given a mirror. His eye sockets feel three feet deep. His face feels like melted plastic, recently dried. A flash of red catches Mike’s eye. It’s Megan’s long hair swinging around as she mounts Roy.

Mike wishes he could find the words. He imagines a situation in which he’s free to text Megan and be depressed. Mike would prefer they did not have sex so often.

Today the apparatus is prepared and everything changes. Mike is responsible for assembly. Megan and Roy have “profoundly fulfilling” sex as Mike works.

Mike enjoys crimping the wires. The way it feels to remove plastic sheathing from a fresh wire- there’s nothing quite like it. Mike appreciates the opportunity to assemble the apparatus but would prefer Roy to have less sex with Megan. Roy combs back his greasy hair to the neck and instructs Mike to shut his mouth. This display then turns Megan on and she has sex with Roy. It’s a terrible cycle. This is why Mike doesn’t talk so much anymore.

The morning is Mike’s favorite time. For hours he has the whole dresser and window all to himself. The sun comes through the blinds and it feels good on his eyes. Megan often complains that it’s melodramatic, but Mike didn’t see it in a movie. It’s a natural thing to go toward light. Today Mike sinks into the orange warmth for too long and Roy kicks him directly in the nuts. Mike throws up. Megan tosses a towel at Mike, disgusted and amused. Roy prepares the apparatus for transport. Megan kisses Mike on the lips. Somewhere downstairs the apparatus explodes, killing Roy. Megan unlocks the handcuffs. Mike opens the blinds. Megan wraps her arms around her husband’s waist.


Robert Cole is among the winners of the 2013 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition and his writing has appeared in Connotation Press, Menacing Hedge, Jet Fuel Magazine, Dreginald, Tarpaulin Sky, Sein und Werden and other journals. He is the coauthor of Mutant Neuron Codex Swarm (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015) and currently lives in Oklahoma City.

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