NEW THING KISSES by Robin Zlotnick

They breathed each other in for ten years before they married, and then they were married for forty years, and the whole time, they needed to know every bit of each other, not just know but suck in and taste, so they had this thing, a sort of game: any time she noticed something new about him, a wrinkle on his forehead or a mole on his wrist, she would kiss it and vice versa, like when a pie-baking burn bubbled on her hand, he kissed each blistered bump, and when her chin grew a hair he kissed that too, and when she yanked the hair out with tweezers and blew it away, he kissed her chin once more because it was new again since the hair was gone. Together they kissed their new things for fifty years, and then it got so they knew every piece of each other, or else they started predicting the changes, or else they didn’t want to see them anymore. In any case, the new thing kisses mostly stopped, and then one night he decided he wanted to stay up later but she wanted to go to bed at the regular time, so he did and she did, and when she got up in the morning she kissed the top of his head because that was new, coming to bed at different times, and he asked What was that for? like he didn’t know, so she kissed him again because he’d never asked that before. Soon they never got into bed together and he kept changing, like one day he came to bed and his left foot was shorter than his right, not by a lot, but she noticed it and she kissed it because that was new, then the next night he had one less finger, a pinky was gone, and she kissed the shiny stub because that was new too, and then the next night his eyes when he opened them were green and fearful but they had always been brown and kind so she, trembling, kissed those too. Every night she kissed his new thing until he was unrecognizable to her and then she could do nothing but kiss him—she didn’t think she had a choice—so that’s what she did; she kissed him and kissed him and kissed him and then she died.


Robin Zlotnick is a writer, editor, and fledgling potter from New York. She has fiction published in places like Five on the Fifth, Peach Mag, and After the Pause, and she has humor published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Belladonna, Slackjaw, and elsewhere. You can check out her work at robinzlotnick.com.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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