Interlude by Stacy Skolnik

INTERLUDE by Stacy Skolnik (from The Ginny Suite)

I’m eating a twisty donut outside the bodega in the rain when he texts me: “I had a sex dream about you last night.”

       Cool. Last night I dreamt that there was a guy in my building who was known to be a murderer of women. Either a permanent resident or just passing through. There was an awards ceremony happening on tv, and a few friends and my grandma were over to watch it. My grandma always loved that kind of thing, the red carpet, the stars. But in the dream she was weak and angry and uncomfortable, and most of all, tired of hearing about the man. She sat at my desk and put her head down, like a schoolgirl.

       An Orthodox woman with bright orange lipstick jogs past me in her skirt. I watch her dripping reflection disappear beyond the frame of the mirror I was carrying but have rested, for the moment, against a tree. At my feet, stray pages of an abandoned newspaper grow soggy. On it, the dampened faces of protestors appear to be melting below the headline: “World Health Organization chief scientist faces backlash after evidence of Sunnyvale syndrome censorship mounts.” Across the street a dog with giant balls assesses the puddle I circumnavigated on the way to fetch breakfast and a pack of cigarettes. Gingko leaves pepper the perimeter. Towards the center they get swallowed up in darkness. His master walks through the puddle, shoes get wet. So do the dog’s paws.

       I’m afraid I’m incapable of love, I consider texting back, but instead leave him waiting on those three pulsing dots.

       “I was fucking you from behind. It was so good.” Blushing emoji.

       “I can make your dream a reality,” I respond, and it sounds sarcastic. We live together. We sleep parallel in the same bed every night.

       “You have such a hot body I want to wrap my arms around you while I cum in your pussy.”

       It takes me a long time to think of what to say because sexting with your husband is harder than being creative, mysterious, new with a stranger. He’s seen it, all of it, the total and utter itness of me, before. This exchange feels disingenuous. An act. Like he could have received an award in my dream while fucking me in his.

       “You can cum in me tonight,” is the best I can muster with a wet screen and frosting on my fingers.


I carry the mirror above my head, inviting the sky to admire the soft curves and wispy strands of its clouds through the icy veil of glass. The pale sun, what little we have of it in this dark season, disappears as I make my way underground. A cacophony of geese and the ambient hum of a plane recedes behind me. Highway sounds drip through the grate. Trucks idling in morning traffic. Orchestra of car horns.

       Already, my bladder is full of pressure.

       Four stops into my trip the homeless guy who’s been shuffling three nickels in his hand and dropping them on the ground, betting in an imaginary game of heads-or-tales Cee-lo, loses against himself, begins aggressively shoving things into his bags, making noise, banging beer bottles on the handrails and opening them with his fuzzy teeth. He stands up, teeters around, and I feel I’m a safe enough distance away to not have to switch cars. I’m glad; lazy, curious, and tired of maneuvering the mirror, about three feet by four feet, framed in heavy teak. I took it down from the wall for money, not considering deeply enough the obtrusive blank space that would be left in its wake or the obnoxious hassle of delivery.

       The car says “ooooh” all at once, so I know I’ve missed something. A woman stands up without her cane and gets up in his face, all her weight on her good leg. I’m guessing he may have hit her or bumped into her in such a way that it was mistaken for a hit, because she won’t shut the fuck up, she’s moaning and fake crying and there’s something wrong with her that has nothing to do with whatever is going on right now.

       Two guys flank her, angels on each shoulder, while everyone else relocates to my side of the car. I hold on tightly to the mirror, trying to avoid seven more years of bad luck. The angels demand that he get off at the next stop. She’s still moaning like she’s lost a child or experiencing a major, catastrophic event and the homeless guy is for some reason saying “thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.” His acceptance speech.

       When the train pulls into the station he grabs a hold of his garbage bags and starts to exit. A third guy decides to get involved and kicks him out of the car in a delayed, showy, and obviously unnecessary performance of machismo.

       The woman continues her awful howling after he’s off the train, making it ever harder to empathize. The angels remind the rest of the ladies on the train that no man should EVER ever EVER hit a woman and they’re real men cuz they didn’t stand for it and there are good men on the trains, there are good men in the subways, on busses, out in the world on all varieties of public transport. I picture mole people scuttling about in the lower levels, feeling us rumble above them, unaware of our car’s grating micro-drama.

       The guys helped her, sure, and it was good of them, but their announcements strike me as self-indulgent, the way they keep repeating it, their newfound mantra: “No man should ever…ever…ever…hit a woman. Remember that… No man should ever…ever…ever…” As if they need to say it aloud in order to convince themselves of its truth. Turn it into a song with lyrics they can memorize. If I hold the mirror up to their faces while they sing it, will the bloody faces of phantom women appear, their future wives?

       Later on, I tell my husband the story while he takes off his socks, pants, work shirt, tossing each layer atop the already overflowing hamper. He doesn’t ask about the mirror that’s disappeared—or the framed screen print of Adam and Eve that until recently hung above the mantle, or the blown glass vase that used to sit beneath it—and he lacks interest in my anecdote. “I guess you had to be there,” I say, and the look in his eye tells me he wonders if we’re going to pick up where our morning texts, a lifetime ago, left off. I’m tired and figure we should just wait until the weekend. So I continue talking, pathologizing the men, wondering about the public proclamation of their credo, voicing my suspicions. He sighs.

       “You just can’t win.”


Stacy Skolnik is the author of the poetry collection (self-released, 2019), the chapbook Sparrows (Belladonna* Collaborative, 2023), the workbook From the Punitive to the Ludic: Prompts for Writing Public Apologies (with Thomas Laprade for Montez Press Radio, KAJE, 2022), and the chapbook Rat Park (with Katie Della-Valle, Montez Press, 2018). She is a co-founder and co-director of Montez Press Radio, the Lower East Side-based broadcast and performance platform. The Ginny Suite is her debut novel.