Paul Albano


“I’ve always wanted to seduce an astrophysicist,” she says.

I drape my jacket over the back of a chair. “Huh, it’s really not that difficult. We rarely see temptation.”

Ashley removes her blouse. Her skin is cream colored and freckled. There’s an inverted self-portrait tattooed on her stomach. It’s amazingly rendered.

“Where did you get that done?” I ask.

She glances down, sheepish for a passing instant, and giggles. The self-portrait also giggles. “Tattoo parlor,” she says.

This makes sense.

We kiss and she tastes like a Wendy’s frosty. I lift my arms and let her tug my shirt off. I’m wearing three shirts, so the process repeats and repeats.

Ashley unclasps her bra, exposing two fleshy, supple orbs of contentment. I can hear street noise five stories down, mostly an old man berating a stop sign, and the entire apartment seems to breathe and sigh. She takes off her glasses.

“No, keep them on” I say. They’re the same as her tattoo.

Ashley obliges, and places her hands on my hips and pulls me onto the bed on top of her.

“I don’t normally associate Murphy beds with comfort. Convenience seems to be the appeal. Yet,” I push down on the mattress with my palm, “there’s more back support than I thought.”

She slips her hand inside the waistband of my slacks. I feel the expectant touch of suspense. She removes my wallet.

“Safe keeping.” I say. “In case I get mugged.”

Ashley lets the wallet fall. I caress the face on her stomach and the face on her head. She pulls my astrophysicisthood inside her.


“Something else,” Ashley says. “Jenga. I have a Jenga fetish.”

“I don’t know what that means,” I say.

Ashley is suddenly demure. “It’s a game where you take turns removing blocks to build a tower. But the tricky thing is that the more blocks you remove the harder it is to balance the tower.”

This makes sense.

We resume intimacy. We take the Jenga blocks from the box and stack them using the plastic case. We begin playing Jenga. Beads of perspiration slide down her cheeks, detouring along the ridges of the veins in her neck, before falling onto the sheets. There are small, almost imperceptible dimples on her shoulders arranged in the shape of the constellation Sagittarius. I am a Sagittarius. I do not know what this means, other than it cannot mean anything.


Time lapses and I grow very tired. Near exhaustion. Our bodies bend and writhe and curl and the like. Ashley moans and kicks over the Jenga tower. The pieces scatter across her apartment floor. I move to the space next to her on the bed. We’re parallel to each other. The mattress is as comfortable as I imagined it to be. Ashley props herself up with two pillows folded behind her and smokes. She says she also has Operation.


Illustrations By Meghan Murphy

Repeat After Me

Repeat After Me

Life Here's No Different

Life Here's No Different