She wakes to the shades half drawn as rays illuminate her naked body. Silhouetted, she pulls the covers up and laughs furiously. Her thin, red lips look like lipstick splotch already, and there’s a red lip-shaped stain on the sheets. She sits up in the bed, and pulls the sheets over her head, exposing her breasts, and falls backward on the pillows.
You move in closer, as she appears lifeless, and tear the sheets off of her angrily.
She remains still. Your hands find her neatly carved ribs, and begin to tickle them.
Her feet and hands fly upward, reaching for the blue, and she laughs, and she laughs. She even screams too.
“Stop! Oh my god!” She manages to mutter in between breaths she sneaks.
You stop. After another minute or two.
She takes a moment to reach resting heart rate.
“Y’know,” she begins, “I could die from being tickled.”
“Balderdash.” You say.
“It’s true.” She says. She becomes sincere. Or serious. She’s a newspaper columnist now, a reporter. She checks her facts, and meticulously writes her piece.
“Swear to god. Saw it on T.V. A woman died from being tickled to death. She couldn’t get any oxygen, because she was too busy being tickled.”
“How ‘bout that.” You say.
“Yeah. What do you think about that, huh? Next time you try and tickle me, I bet you’ll think twice. You might lose me.”
“Aw hot damn, Charlotte. Don’t talk like that. I won’t lose you. And if I were to lose you, well I’d just go off and find you again.”
“Hmm. You’d do that for me Terry?”
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it.”
She pulls your lethargic body atop hers. Smooches. Kiss. Kiss. A big lip-shaped red stain on your forehead.

The nausea in his voice almost makes you ill, because he is mad. Or at least, he looks like he’s gone mad. The bottle in your hand hasn’t been cold for nothing short of an hour, but you don’t mind. You stopped drinking it long before then. You put it down and walk over to her. She’s dancing, twirling, bracelets like maracas, and it gives you a headache.
“Charlotte,” you say, “I don’t feel good. Let’s get out of here.”
“What? No! If you need to throw up just do it in the bathroom! I’m having fun.”
“No. Charlotte. Sick. I am seriously sick.”

“Toilets.” She says.
“What?” You say.
“Toilets. You couldn’t have made it to the toilets, Terry?”
“It wasn’t that kind of sick Charlotte. I felt physically sick, drowning sick. Not throwing up sick.”
“Well. All right. I suppose you ruining one night of fun ain’t so bad.”
You smile from your hospital bed, in your blue-speckled gown, underneath your wool blanket, with your tubes, and your screens.
“If you make it up to me.” She says.

Princess. Crowns.
“No, no. All wrong Charlotte. All wrong.” You say.
“What!” She exclaims.
“You’ve got it all wrong. He goes to the bus station, to buy a ticket, before he commits the murder. We never see him go back there again.”
“Oh pooh! I could’ve written a better ending than that!”
“Let’s hear it?”
“I said I could write one, not tell it to you now.”
“You’ve got a week.”
“You’ve got a week to write a better ending. I’m holding you to it.”
“Yeah, or what?”
You tilt your head back and move some things around in there.
“Oh. I don’t know.” You say.
Her eyebrows peak at temple’s height.
“You have to cook for me for a week. Every night. Instead of us going out.” You say.
“You’re on, pumpkin.”

Charlotte. Charlotte, dear.
You’re always leaving those notes. Why are you always doing that?
“You’re always leaving those notes, Terry. I love when you do that.”
You just smile away.
Homebody, you. She loves it. Your work, your love, all at home.
Dancing around a lamp in the center of the den, as an old Charles Mignon record plays, she funnels her love.
“Exquisite,” you say. “As always, but, tell me Charlotte, dear. How is your progress on the new ending coming?”
She bounces in and out of the shadows. She flings her ponytail all over the wall.
“Terry,” she says, as if she’s out of breath, “You’re just a bother, aren’t you?”
“You did marry to be bothered, correct?”
“I married to be loved.”
She drops her dancing hands, and pauses her dancing feet, and skips over to you, in your parlor chair, in your handcrafted venetian wood stare, and mounts your lap, and kisses your lips. Smooches.
“As did I,” you say.
You grab her head and tuck it in your shoulder, and lean on her.

Lean on her.
“Dancing at home is better than dancing in public. You can simply do whatever you like. Even mess up if you like. Try new things if you like.”
“I must admit,” you say, “I agree. I’m not much a man for dancing in front of others, but when I do dance, I dance with you.”
“Doofus. You better only be dancing with me.”

On the way to the supermarket, she laughs.
“What is wrong with you?” You yell.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it’s just, I wish you hadn’t told me, I just, I cannot believe, that, you, used to do gymnastics!”
“It was good exercise!” You pause. “And my parents made me.”
“Too funny, Terry. I’m absolutely going to have to ask your mother for some pictures of you in –” she halts her speech, and waits for you to look at her, you look, “action.” She says.
“No you are not!” You say.
“Yeah huh! Your mom would give me those pictures in a heartbeat, and you know it.”
“I know! That’s what I don’t want to happen!”
“Too bad!”
“You’re going to be sorry, Charlotte.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. So sorry. You don’t even know.”
You exchange glances between her and the road. Equally yoking your time. You take your right hand off the wheel, and fly it her way. Your hand meets hers, and they clasp. You jerk your hand away, and find one of those neatly carved ribs of hers, and dig your hand in tight knit. Organ donor. You find it. The spot. Her most ticklish spot. She’s quick to push your hand away. But you’re quicker. You tickle her ribs, and she laughs, and she laughs. She even screams too.
“Oh. My. God! Terrry!”
“Are you sorry yet?”
She laughs, can’t breathe.
You swerve. You tickle. You scream.

You wake up to eyelashes dancing, and butterflies fluttering around the room.
Your hand rubs your head in disbelief. Blood on your bandages. Blood on your hands. Blood on your cigarettes. Do you smoke cigarettes? You don’t remember.

I Remember.
“Terry?” She says.
“Huh?” You say.
“Terry, are you okay? Oh my god, Terry.” She grabs your lethargic body, and embraces it. You feel the warmth in her breast, and smell her sweet pea perfume.
“I can’t believe I almost lost you, Terry.” She sobs. She wipes her nose on your hospital gown. You try to comfort her, but you have to ask.
“Who are you?”
Her face grows weak, haggardly pale. Her lips droop, and her hands drop from your shoulders.
“You’re – just – you’re just joking, right Terry?”
You smile from your hospital bed, in your blue-speckled gown, underneath your wool blanket, with your tubes, and your screens. With your disbelief, and your screams.
“Yeah,” you stumble and choke, “of course I am.” Charlotte. Her nametag reads. “Of course I am Charlotte. Charlotte, dear.”