Ross Showalter


After the last box is folded down, something thick like blood climbs up your throat. The question of residency has been filled: your love lives in the basement underneath you now, he will meet you in gossamer mornings at your doorway now, he wants to love you until death do you part now—beyond that—and he hosts parties where the third one doesn’t sit in a corner and squirm. It will be the two of you in a four-person house, now. You will be happy.


The third will be alright now, he has always landed on his feet, but he told you not to call him now. He insists you don’t know what you invited past your doormat. You insist you don’t want to. All that matters is happiness. The rest will pass, ticking past, in days, in months, in years. You still see the third’s face from your last encounter: it floats white in the void behind your eyelids. Exhaustion carved purple shadows into his face. He looked like he could burn the earth of your body. He looked like a sapling bent in half.

Where did the storm come from? You push the question away. It can wither unanswered. After all, you are happy. But you hear doors slamming and see flashes of light. It all happens beneath you. It all happens around you. You stay cocooned in bed, the third’s face floating before you. The pillow is wet. You promised to not let the question slip. Still, you are still whispering.

Ross Showalter is a Deaf queer writer based in the Pacific Northwest. His short stories, personal essays, and critical pieces have published in The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Catapult, Literary Hub, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. His work has been a finalist for the Best of the Net anthology, included on Entropy Magazine’s Best of the Year lists, and supported by the Anderson Center and Deaf Spotlight. He earned his BFA in creative writing from Portland State University and he currently teaches creative writing courses in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.