My glass of milk is full. I’m sitting at the counter in the kitchen. It is dark out and it is raining. A pot on the stove rumbles slowly, about to overflow. I drink my milk. I wonder if I should say something. I can already hear her come into the room. Her feet are bare. She is not in a hurry.  She is nothing like the woman with the skinned knees. She was the kind of woman who was always stumbling over things, walking into doors and windows.

I walked into her, the woman with the skinned knees. It was back in August of last year, in the middle of a crowded street.  We knocked the air out of each other. The contents of her bag fell out. I helped scoop them back. I walked with her for hours that day. We talked about our mothers’ music.  We stumbled together for a while. We drank bitter coffee and smoked bittersweet cigarettes. In the evening, we stumbled into my bed. Her knees were red. She was mostly bones, and I could feel them when I was making love to her. The woman with the skinned knees would ask me to be rough with her. I couldn’t. I kept imagining her breaking. Her sandpaper knees would rub against me.

She is at the stove now, the woman with no angles, my wife. She turns down the heat and peers into the pots.

“Are you hungry?” she asks. I nod. She smiles. She is always smiling, it seems to me. I smile back. I’m not even sure why. We look out the window together.

“The laundry!” she remembers.

“I can…” I start, but she runs out to the porch with her bare feet.

The girl with the skinned knees would never smile. I stopped smiling then too. But I was happy. I felt like a part of her. She was always peeling at her scabs. I would peel them, too. I would peel all of my wounds. No wounds could close. We did everything together. We would meet after I finished my work at the office, and stumble and fall everywhere.  One day she fell out my window. I got into my car to drive her to the hospital, but I realized that she had slashed my tires. Or maybe it was me who had done it. There was broken glass everywhere.

I’m looking out through the window. I hold my glass of milk, now half empty. It’s raining harder now. My wife is on the porch. She is taking down the clean clothes that are now drenched with rain. It looks like she is dancing. Her body is beautiful and dripping. Her belly is flat and her hips and legs are wide and long. Maybe tonight we will make love—that one night a week. My wife makes love like she walks, assured and economical. Her skin is flawlessly soft. We keep each other sated.

The woman with the skinned knees and I would make love all of the time, everywhere. I always had the sound of brittle, breaking bones in my head then. Every twig I stepped on, every head of lettuce I would take apart, I was reminded of her body.

I smile at my reflection in the window. The cat has come out of the bedroom now, and it purrs in my direction, slithers slowly my way, and curls up on my dry lap.

It was the woman with the skinned knees that brought it to me, one night. We had been together for a month. It’s an anniversary present, she said. Its fur was dirty and matted. We washed it together, but we didn’t give it a name.

My wife comes back in with the laundry and walks down to the laundry room to put it in the drier. Her feet are wet. She is dripping all over the floor. Her wedding ring is wet and gleaming.

I bought that wedding ring for the woman with the skinned knees. It was supposed to be hers. I bought her that ring because I couldn’t imagine living without her. We made everything around us poisonous. We would leave the beer cans on the floors, the broken glass bottles too, leave the Drano on the counter, push each other into traffic.

My wife shuts the door gently behind her. I get off my high chair at the counter and take out a mop. I clean her footprints and the drips. She’ll be back, still covered in rain, but she won’t get sick. She is so sturdy.

I did give her the ring one night, the woman with the skinned knees. She had a long foreign name. It sounded like poetry. But the ring was too big. She yelled at me. She gave it back. She said she was leaving. Then she was gone. She broke the windshield of my car. I feel like she might have broken me, too, a little bit. I didn’t bother fixing the car. A month later, when I got sick of taking the bus all the time, I got a new car. Two months later, when I was tired of being alone, I met my wife.

My wife is back now. Her clothes are wet.  Her white shirt is transparent. I can see her bra, the outline of her underwear. She should have put them in the dryer with the rest of the clothes from the porch. She’s peeling them off, her fingers deft. She walks into the shower, and the water is rumbling. When she does these things I am reminded that she might be broken, too. The pot is beginning to boil over again and this time I turn the fire off. Dinner will be ready soon.

Lior Zaltzman graduated in 2013, with a major in Cartooning. She was born in Israel, and is currently wandering around Europe. Her first graphic novel, Staring Ahead, will be out in April.