Liz eased onto her feet. The sheet, which had wound its way around her foot sometime during the long night’s thrashings, trailed her like a train. She shook it off with impatience, more mindful of her body’s nagging soreness than the ridiculous irony of the image.
He had left before she had awoken. The room was a shambles, his belongings scattered across the floor as if abandoned in hasty disgust. In the bright morning sunshine the electric surge that had filled Liz’s heart at the apex of their encounter seemed all but drained away. She felt small, weak and exposed.
“Oh. You’ve awakened.” Frank stood there, hair mussed, clothes disheveled. He avoided her eyes as he gestured to the far corner. “Your dress is over there.”
“Thank you,” was all she could manage. Liz picked up the soft black garment, puddled it on the floor at her feet and then stepped in, aware of the odd pull of tightened muscles across her back. She struggled with the sleeves for a few moments, wondering if he was watching, wondering if he was aware of the toll their riotous night had taken on her. If he knew he made no attempt to assist her as she fumbled with the buttons. After a few moments of struggling she abandoned the top two, leaving a gaping V at the top of her shoulders, followed by a series of odd bulges and gaps where she had incorrectly fastened the fabric. She turned back to Frank and forced a small smile. “Better?”
Frank’s eyes, hooded with guilt, shifted to the door. “I have work.”
Liz started to nod, but then shook her head. “No.”
“I will not.” She stamped her foot. An aching throb traced up her leg. Was there anywhere on her body their transgressions had not touched? Liz caught the warning arch of his eyebrow, the downward tug of his mouth and altered her tone. “How can you act this way? After last night–?”
“I am busy, that’s all. I told you, I have work to do.”
“And you don’t have time enough to spare me a moment now that your conquest is complete? Have you checked me off of your list, yet?” He didn’t answer and Liz choked back the lump in her throat. “How can you be this way?”
“I am not being any way,” Frank said. He ran his hand through his hair, tousling it even further. “I do not have time for this.”
“And I have no inclination to allow you to leave without admitting last night was special. You… My body… Touched everywhere. Your hands traced the most intimate parts of me. Last night we connected as no others have. Admit that, and I will leave you alone.”
“Of course!” Frank shouted. “Of course it was intimate. I was there! I was! But it is no longer last night. It is tomorrow.”
“I see.” Liz fought the tears that threatened to overspill. “It is tomorrow, and you have work to do.”
“Marvelous; you’ve got it. That is only what I have been telling you for the past five minutes.”
“Then do not let me keep you one second longer.”
He slid from the room like a scolded child, his shamed relief staining the air. Liz limped past the gurney to the window. The leaded panes mimicked the tracery of stitches across her face, the fine, careful lines Frank had sewn all over her body. He had made her. From castaway corpses to single being, he had made her, infused her with this life, and then cast her aside. She pressed her forehead against the glass until it hurt, staring out at a world she would never enter, straining away from the world she would never leave.
“You’re a bastard, Frank,” she whispered. “You’re a bastard.”