Two Stories

Two Stories
Close Your Eyes


The divorce would be final on Thursday and Lucas began crying on Sunday.

His girlfriend, Irene, known as the slut by the soon-to-be ex-wife, was at a loss as to how to comfort him. Through sniffles, Lucas assured Irene that he loved her. What was left unsaid was that he wished he didn’t.



He sobbed as he thought of Amanda’s thick shins and dimpled thighs and how organized she was with paying the bills. He fantasized about how the thick black hair that grew from the right corner of her top lip tickled him when they kissed and how she held him at night. Irene had a better sense of humor and was model thin, with augmented breasts—a dream to look at but bony and unforgiving in an embrace. Both women poked and prodded him into being a better man than he was, Amanda with sticks and Irene with carrots.



He didn’t get out of bed. Silent tears accompanied his memories of their last conversation.

“You’re sick,” Amanda had said, spitting at him after discovering Irene’s naked picture on his phone.

“I’ve been faithful to you in all the ways that matter.”

“In none of the ways that require any commitment, once again,” she’d replied.

She hadn’t spoken to him since. He hiccuped as he called out of work and Irene ironed his suit in anticipation of the court date, glaring at him as he wailed. When the tissues ran out, she refused to hand him toilet paper.

Lucas never intentionally wanted to make a woman angry. He had been raised by a mother escaping his alcoholic father and he knew the damage that men could do to women. When the divorce was finalized on his 11th birthday, he and his mother had been plunged into poverty. Their newfound financial misery meant that Lucas was never as clean or prepared for school as his peers and he suffered a mild form of shunning that left him alone during lunch and without friends after school. Through it all, what he’d missed the most was flying kites with his dad. Or rather his dad flying the kite while Lucas tilted his neck back, watching spots of color floating effortlessly against the brilliant blue sky.



He began to think that he would never stop crying. Irene left for her mother’s house and told him to call her when he was “back to normal.” He tried to remember the last time he hadn’t disappointed a woman.

When he was fifteen, the twenty-seven-year-old woman who lived down the hall called him over. She smelled like fabric softener and winked at him when she said good morning.

“Lucas, come here.”

He went because he liked feeling useful and was good at changing light bulbs, a precarious task in their cortiço. When she pulled down his pants, stroked him, and guided him inside her, he didn’t utter a word, hardly even breathed. It was only when he came, in a matter of minutes, and his erection didn’t cease, that he asked if that was normal. She smiled and told him that he could do it again. Shortly after she moved out and they never spoke again but he liked to believe she’d been satisfied.

The night before he was due in court to sign the papers, he clutched the pillow that both Amanda and Irene had used and counted sheep until the first rays of the morning sun lit up the sky.



In the parking lot at the courthouse, from behind his veil of tears, he saw Amanda arrive and go inside.

He wanted to be a different man, a better one, he told himself. The kind who could be faithful to one woman for a lifetime. The kind who didn’t lie about where he went for lunch and couldn’t remember how to stop. His divorce was proof of his failure to change.

Bending his head, he slumped against the wheel and startled those around him with the long whiny beep of his car. A breeze passed through the open window, caressed his cheeks, and shushed his sorrow. It reminded him of the last time he’d flown a kite with his dad, both of them grown men and closer to strangers than friends.

“Who cares if you like yourself?”

His father’s voice echoed in his mind from a decade ago. On that day long ago, Lucas had confessed that he’d never been faithful to Amanda, then his girlfriend, and the regret he felt.

“You know what it means to be a man? You close your eyes and sleep at night. That’s it. No tossing and turning, no second guessing, no racing mind. Leave that shit to the women.”

Lucas, who hadn’t slept well in years, had a vague memory of how quickly his dad had fallen asleep at night. His dad’s arm jerked left then right and cut the kite of a young kid on the other side of the street. The limp string fluttered to the ground and Lucas smiled at his dad’s success.

“Forget this bullshit about liking yourself, crying about who you’ve hurt. Just sleep good and have a kid. They’ll be better than you and the old lady stays happy.”

He’d ignored his dad then but he and Amanda had no children and in the parking lot of the courthouse that Thursday, on the cusp of his first divorce, he was inspired to try something different.

Wiping his face with the sleeve of his button-down shirt, he let out a deep breath, opened the door, and walked into the courtroom, texting Irene as he went.

ALL GOOD, back to nrml. lve you

Hopefully, they could start trying on Friday.



What’s the worst thing my dad ever did? It’s easier to tell you the best.

Love is complicated. We are supposed to love our parents no matter what. I wonder if the bible was written in part to justify awful parenting (but don’t tell that to the people trying to convert you at bus stations or they may start speaking in tongues and call you the devil). The last time I saw my dad, my mom called him the devil. He had that effect on people.

Got to be honest, my dad wasn’t a lovable man. His nickname was cockroach, which my mom insisted he’d given himself, he wore lycra bike shorts for days on end and drove too fast while cursing other drivers for his recklessness. If he was there when I fell he laughed at my clumsiness and when I was slow to cross the street he called me a jackass. But I do have a great memory with my dad —my first concert on the 16th of January, 1988.

To say I wanted to be Tina Turner doesn’t do my passion justice. I begged my dad to cut my hair like hers and he grabbed a pair of scissors not suited for hair, chopping the air with a smile. Instead of a gorgeous lion’s mane, I ended up with an embarrassing hack job, the hair at the crown of my head cut so short it looked like I’d been electrocuted. He made up for it by getting me tickets to her show.

Do whatever you want, you always do, my mom said when dad asked if he could take me to the concert as we were walking out the door. He drove us there on a motorcycle wearing penny loafers, with an actual penny in the slot, no socks, a pastel lilac sweater, and a popped collar. My dad was an enigma.

Got a Guinness World Record for the number of attendees, that concert.

To this day it remains one of the highest-paying audiences for a female artist.

Do listen to River Deep, Mountain High. She didn’t sing it then, but I hear it when I think of that night.

With any other adult, there would have been rules and warnings, but not my dad. The dictatorship was over but the police were exactly the same. I didn’t understand politics but I knew that we couldn’t go crazy, no matter how much Tina got us worked up.

It was the show of a lifetime. After the concert, we went home and my mom fought with dad for driving his bike drunk. I wished he’d just dropped me off and driven off into the sunset. If he had, I could romanticize the memories of that night: him screaming along to all the songs in his very bad English, flirting with girls who were closer to my age than his, and rocking his head up and down as if headbanging was an appropriate dance move for Tina. Unfortunately, my dad was not the type of guy to leave on a high note.


About the Author

Melissa Witcher (she/ela) is a self-taught writer, collagist, muralist, and embroidery artist. She was born in Brazil, raised in the U.S. and has lived in São Paulo since 2011. Her writing has appeared in 805 Art + Lit and Panorama Journal.


Photo by Caleb Hernandez Belmonte on Unsplash