written by Jack Feerick | illustrated by Mitucami Mituca
Love cannot be measured quantitatively, he told her.
I’m a scientist, she said. I can’t take anything on faith.
And so measure she did. She counted the number of words in each love letter, the duration of every phone call and every kiss, counted each petal on each flower in each bouquet. She quantified the warmth of his hand on hers with an infrared thermometer. She tallied the expense of his gifts, accounted for every drink, every meal. She timed his eye contact. She measured the distance between them when they walked, when they sat, when they slept. She had to be sure.
What about now? he asked with a grin, running a hand through her damp hair.
I don’t have enough data yet, she said.
I’ll show you, he said, his head disappearing beneath the duvet.
She recorded the frequency of their lovemaking, the length and intensity of his orgasms and her own. Changes in respiration and heartbeat. Precise lengths of every swelling and protrusion, every dilation of eye or orifice, every goosebump measured to the micron with calipers. She collected and measured fluids and secretions in their picoliters; recorded how long it took for his sweat to dry to salt on her skin, how long it took for him to fall asleep afterward.
You don’t believe me, he said glumly. You’ll never believe me.
There’s a possibility of confirmation bias, she said. The evidence must be irrefutable.
She graphed out the ratios of the space they each took up in bed; demarcated his area and hers, assessed each incursion from one zone to the other by distance and duration, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the overall.
All the while, she parsed. She averaged. She ran chi-square analyses. She felt she was closing in on something.
She noted the duration of his silences, the frequency of avoidance, the volume of their screaming matches; plotted the violence and persistence of his weeping against a timeline of his absences; collected his tears in pipettes for analysis. She kept a scrupulous log of every sleepless night, every cutting word, every small unkindness.
When he finally left for good, he didn’t even pull the door entirely shut. She stared for a long time at the gap. It was about the width of two fingers. Two of his fingers. A micrometer would confirm for sure; but she wished she could hold his hand one last time, just to check.
About the artists:
Yolanda Oreiro aka Mitucami Mituca is an Spanish illustrator, currently based in Barcelona. She is actively involved with the Zines culture and currently collaborates with different magazines like proyecto-kahlo and Shameless Magazine.
Jack Feerick lives and works in western New York with his family, two cats, and a neurotic Husky. His short fiction has previously appeared in KYSO Flash. He is critic-at-large for Popdose.