Title: breathe IN.
Summary: You don't mean a thing to me.
Word Count: 764

A/N & Disclaimer: First in a flurry of Original Short/Drabbles (combo of the two?) I'm writing. The quote at the end comes from the song Tiny Vessels by Deathcab.


He watches her sleep, breathe in, breathe out. Like a metrenome, keeping measured time of the breaths he takes, the number of times his eyes flit over to the door and back to her.

It's white oak, and splintered wood. The door. It's his fault, really; he should have been more careful when he said he could fix it – it had a particularly annoying way of getting stuck – with just a screwdriver. Men can't all be Mr. Fix-its, she told him afterwards when he stood with the tool loosely in his hands and shame draped about his face. If they were, she said, if all men could fix things, then we wouldn't have a world.

Breathe in, breathe out.

It's one of those Saturday mornings, where the long-awaited sun doesn't come and the rain takes its place with static noise like God's bullets bouncing off the windowpanes. The neighbors are making pancakes – he can smell them through the walls thin as paper. The blue, translucent curtains she picked out last week are drawn, and some old Jack Johnson song is playing on the old '84 radio that's rusted the shade of puke. The heating system groans and vibrates and chugs along with the last of its feeble life, and he wonders when it'll finally break down so he can have an excuse to fix something, even though he can't. He is one of those men who was not made to fix things.

His eyes wander back to her sleeping form, beside him. She is stretched out on the bed like a cat, in a classic death position. From this angle, he can only see one of her perfectly arched brows, her chin, her black hair, her back. She never faces him when she sleeps.

Breathe in, breathe out.

I can't because it makes me self-conscious, she says. So he looks at her when she is vulnerable. She is the most beautiful girl he's ever seen in his life. Perfect, golden skin that stays the shade it is year-long, rich pink lips, cat-like, brilliant green eyes, dark, wavy hair that does whatever she wants it to whenever she wants it to, and a petite frame. She looks good in every color, every article of clothing she puts on. When she's sick she gives a radiant glow; when she cries she looks like an angel. And she's not a bitch, or stupid, either.

When he met her he thought someone perfect should have some flaw. If she wasn't dumb or prissy, she must be mentally retarded, equipped with an IQ of 70, max. But she wasn't. She must be obsessive-compulsive, and her hands must be wrinkled from the soap-water she washes them with all day. She wasn't, and her hands were smooth. So then he thought she must be autistic, schizophrenic, multiple personalities with one of a murderer who killed her mother with a penknife when she was three. She must have her tongue cut out, or have irritable bowel syndrome, or pick her nose in public.

But she didn't.

He traces her jawline with his thumb. Breathe in, breathe out.

(She is perfect.)

She is hideous.

The rain is morphing from a drizzle to a blizzard of droplets, each liquid jigsaw piece pounding his ceiling like they want to bring down the world. He wishes he had a Noah's ark that a true Mr. Fixit built. If he did, he would leave her behind.

His hand that has been tracing her jaw now reaches her neck, and he spans its width, unsurprisingly discovering that his hand can wrap around half of it. He resists the urge to squeeze, to strangle her until he can make mottled blue-black markings to deform her perfection. He wonders what she'd look like missing an eye, burdened with a humped-back, bruised with stitch-scars from a horrific car accident.

It would be easier. Well, for him, anyway. He could love her more. Would.

Breathe in, breathe out. Even the timing of her breath is regular; she is not tainted by the impartial, molding ugliness people attain in sleep.

God. Oh god. He wants to kill her.

The curtains taint the sky lights drifting in from outside, and everything in the room is awash with slate-blue lace. The flowered patterns envelop her like a shroud, but he is alone clothed in shadow.

She stirs, opens an eye, notices him. Smiles, and slurs out a groggy 'hey'.

He doesn't answer her, and looks to the door again.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

You are beautiful, but you don't mean a thing to me.

End