Wilson Koewing ~ Big Me

Honey, I’m tak­ing a bath,” Craig said as I was leav­ing. “Can you get that stuff on the list?”

Of course,” I said, grab­bing the list from the table:

  • Bathroom tow­els
  • Duct tape
  • Galoshes
  • Garden Trowel
  • Hornet killer
  • Bicycle tire pump

I thought I heard him shout “I love you” but couldn’t be sure over the run­ning water.

I wait­ed for the garage door to rise then drove out of our cook­ie-cut­ter cul-de-sac, down our cook­ie cut­ter street and out of our cook­ie cut­ter development.

Winter had been long and gray, but the promise of spring poked through the clouds just often enough to keep me hopeful.

After fin­ish­ing my list at the Target, I remem­bered Craig’s list. What I couldn’t remem­ber was the last time he’d run a bath. He was a wake up, get in, get out of the show­er kind of man. At least when he still went into the office. His alarm always sound­ed first and count­less morn­ings I laid awake, will­ing him to sum­mon me into the show­er, which he nev­er did, but then again, I nev­er impart­ed my will either, so who was I to blame?

The pan­dem­ic hit Craig hard. His job went remote, and he hat­ed not being as social­ly active. Missing the end­less com­pa­ny hap­py hours that offered an escape from me. That would have afford­ed him the lux­u­ry to not be home with the child com­ing. The child that was Craig’s even though he wouldn’t believe it.

I was only with Kevin once.

I’d had too many drinks at Craig’s com­pa­ny Christmas par­ty. I knew every­one there but knew no one. I drank a whiskey soda that was a lot whiskey and a lit­tle soda. Kevin and I talked for too long and too seclud­ed by the fire pit about tv shows we liked and music we hat­ed. I didn’t find Kevin espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing. No more than Craig. Just present and will­ing. It was more about a gen­er­al dis­in­ter­est long grow­ing inside of me.

So, I pulled Kevin into a coat closet.

It meant noth­ing. I told Craig that night. He said we could get past it, but I wasn’t convinced.

I went to hard­ware for the duct tape. Garden for the trow­el and hor­net killer.
A text from Craig buzzed: I love you and despite our prob­lems, I cher­ish the time we’ve spent together. 

Over the store’s loud­speak­er some­one said, “Jeffrey, your mom is look­ing for you. She’s at the Starbucks. Come there now.”

The head of every woman over twen­ty-five spun in horror.

I went to sport­ing goods for the bicy­cle tire pump. Bed and bath for the tow­els. The galosh­es I couldn’t make sense of, but I went to shoes and picked out a pair in Craig’s size.

Before dri­ving home, I queued up “Big Me” by the Foo Fighters. The song bled nos­tal­gia for my ado­les­cence. Years before I’d ever gaze upon Craig. I wouldn’t have giv­en Craig the time of day then. His hair wasn’t long. He didn’t have holes in his jeans. He didn’t own flannel.

I took a longer way home and played the song three times.

I placed the bags on the kitchen island and heard music upstairs. Approaching the bath­room door, I rec­og­nized Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues.”

I turned the knob.

The first thing I noticed was the water tum­bling over the tub’s side, which wasn’t so much all red as it was tinged. Then the post-it on the mir­ror: put on the galosh­es and use the towels.


Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His short fic­tion is forth­com­ing in Gargoyle Magazine and Bull: Men’s Fiction. His mem­oir Bridges is forth­com­ing from Bull City Press.