Strong Man

 

Vivian hovered over the stove, heating a cup of milk for the Strong Man convalescing in our bathtub. We found him at the edge of the woods behind the house, face down in the snow. A gang of children had scrawled obscenities all over his biceps and pecs, and a tiny row of blue blisters glistened on his upper lip like a mustache of radioactive lice. In those last hours of gravity, the night was a hush, except for the wooden spoon scraping the bottom of the iron pot. The cats sniffed the air beneath the bathroom door. When I peeked through the keyhole, I saw that he had switched off the lights. All I could make out were his shiny red tights rising in the dark, like a jellyfish billowing up from the bottom of the ocean.