The Magic Number by Ron Burch

Johanna C. Leahy - Roadside Fiction

Motorcycle Fuel, Cambodia

Photo by Johanna C. Leahy [More great photos by Johanna]


‘The Magic Number’ by Ron Burch


As I was going down on you, you said, All wrong, all wrong.  I lifted up my head up,  my chin and lower face wet.  What? I asked.  You’re doing it all wrong, you said.  There was a hair in my mouth, which I pulled out and wiped on the sheet.  It took me a couple tries.  Why don’t you do it then? I said.  That’s stupid, you replied, I can’t give myself oral sex.  If I could I’d never leave the house.  You laughed at this and you tightened up when you did.  I was at a loss for what to do next.  You tell me that when I come, I look like young Paul Anka getting an enema.  I don’t even know who that is.

You won’t tell me exactly how old you are.  You say 47 is the magic number.  I ask you what is the magic number?  You say, the number that everyone doesn’t question.  We have been seeing each other for a couple of weeks. You are older by about 10 years.  I don’t mind.  You have a reserve that I like, a grace and gravity that I don’t find with the younger women who flaunt their tattoos as if they’re street art, who smoke vapor less cigarettes that glow like a blue light and loudly say “fuck” and “cock” for no reason other than to gain the attention of others.  You had been married once, for eight years, to a man you said couldn’t connect emotionally with you.  He worked for the post office and you loved him for awhile but then that awhile went away and he was just a man taking up half your bed for no reason and he was a prick.

We met at the coffee shop, sharing a table when it was busy and you were impressed by what I was reading.  You said men my age didn’t read books anymore, they could barely read texts to each other.  You bought me a latte with a creamy leaf done in milk floating delicately on the top.

I have lied.  I am much younger than you even if I believe the 47.  I am not quite 30 years younger than you but you do not ask, you do not pry, you let me be 37 even though I am not and I am much younger.  I think you love me.  I think.  Perhaps you are lonely.  I would understand.  You were married for eight years, a homeowner with your ex, children from previous marriages in the house, I understand.  You lived in the country in an old house from the late 1800s, a two-story with a sweeping wooden staircase and acres of land with outbuildings and I live in an apartment like you do now, we are one and the same, we are equals, both of us in our fall, in our squalor of tiny rooms and antiquated kitchen cabinets from 20 years ago.  You do not say to me, but I think you see in me, a hope of a future, of a youngness returned because it does not return, and if I look at you with young eyes perhaps I see a young you, perhaps I see a young attractive you that has not been seen my other men, even your ex, in quite a long time.  Or perhaps you just see in me as someone who merely sees you.  Who recognizes you.  Who perceives you when others don’t.  And we fuck in cars and in hotel rooms and in the apartments of friends and even your old house while it sits empty, vacant of furniture, as it awaits to be sold and be seen by other homeowners who will make it a home again.  I would like to talk about love, about how I feel, but I know it cannot last.  It just can’t.

You let me do things to you that other women won’t allow.  You enjoy it.  I enjoy it and want more, so much more.  You’re terrible at that, you say as I bury my head between your legs, and I know you are right and I know what it really, really means and as I bring you finally to orgasm, as you clench your eyes and open your mouth as if surprised for the first time in your life and grind yourself against me. I know that there really isn’t any magic in this world.  It’s just lies as you scream out one last time and bite your bottom lip in the long, ensuing silence.

Did you like the story? Opinions? Praise? Please leave a comment below

Ron Burch


Ron Burch’s short stories have been published, in print and online, in Mississippi Review, Pank and others; he’s been nominated for a Pushcart. His first novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books; Aqueous Books is publishing his flash-fiction collection, Menagerie, in 2014.  Please visit:  www.ronburch.netLifes Bitch SlapFacebookTwitter

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5 Responses to The Magic Number by Ron Burch

  1. Jeff Weddle

    Great story, Ron. Clean, clear and true.

    • Ron

      Thanks, Jeff. You too. Great story. Had no idea where it was going and I loved the end.

      • Jeff Weddle

        Many thanks, Ron.

  2. What an addictive read! I loved it, congrats.

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