SmokeLong Quarterly
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Thank You, I'm Sorry
by Caroline Zilk

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
I was masturbating on my brother's uncomfortable futon when your phone call halted me and token flipped me to my end.

You told me you were walking in circles around St. Paul's. I choked the neck of my black umbrella and joined you... walking with your head down, shoulders rounded and hunched. Not counting the tiles in the floor, the cracks in the sidewalk. Your size-too-big pants were dragging the pavement.

"You're like that Betta fish that lives in my kitchen," I said.

Your ears perked only slightly, a little like puppy ears.

"You sit on the bottom of the bowl," I continued. "You don't move unless I shake you. So I shake you a lot..."

I closed my eyes and saw your prairie-coloured ones. My feet remembered the path and the grayish-blue clouds started spitting at us from a few feet above our heads.

Next, you apologized again. Over and over. For the way you treated me, and for how cold the weather had been.

As much as I complained, I didn't much mind the cold. I passed the days in sweaters with hot tea. Heat on. At night I stared up at Orion's Belt. I liked straight lines and plans.

You were up and down like power lines that summer. You liked chaos and interruptions and wandering up and down Kensington High Street looking for pizza and pretzels while we were coming down.

I looked at you then in the soft light, and then down at my hands. My palms were too large, oblong and pasty. They said I should be independent, but you were a weakness, and I needed you then.

We walked home hand in hand. In your basement, you scratched that seam on my back and rubbed the ink stains off my right hand. We waited for more light to come.

"I forgive you," I said finally, and I turned up my wrist for more.

Your words were even more final.

"It ain't gonna help," you said. "It ain't gonna help."

But you kept going still. You swam to the top of the bowl. You hopped from star to star. Your words were true. Your palm met my bigger one. We slept. We indulged.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2015 by its authors.

Caroline Zilk has lived and worked in the U.S., U.K., Germany and South Korea. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and currently resides in Little Rock, Ark. with a Boston terrier named Boone. Visit

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

Issue Twenty-Nine (September 29, 2010): Bearded by Patrick Allen Carberry «» Hip by Kim Chinquee «» Our Littlest Brother by Dan Crawley «» LAX by Michael Czyzniejewski «» Bathroom Jesus by Kelli Ford «» Boy With Cherries by Adam Golaski «» Dancer by Peter Grandbois «» Aeroplane by Alex Haber «» Feral by Joe Kapitan «» Gorillas by Ben Loory «» Model #3 by Annam Manthiram «» Working Halloween for Christmas Money by John Minichillo «» Claire by Nick Ripatrazone «» Guard by James Robison «» Sixteen by Laura Tanenbaum «» These Three Things That Noah Doesn't by J.A. Tyler «» Snake Walk by Ajay Vishwanathan «» Dive by Dawn West «» Bedtime in Thorpe Village, Leicestershire, England by Sue Williams «» Thank You, I'm Sorry by Caroline Zilk «» Interviews: Patrick Allen Carberry «» Kim Chinquee «» Dan Crawley «» Michael Czyzniejewski «» Kelli Ford «» Adam Golaski «» Peter Grandbois «» Alex Haber «» Joe Kapitan «» Ben Loory «» Annam Manthiram «» John Minichillo «» Nick Ripatrazone «» James Robison «» Laura Tanenbaum «» J.A. Tyler «» Ajay Vishwanathan «» Dawn West «» Sue Williams «» Caroline Zilk «» Cover Art "Sara Serengeti" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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