"Keepers" by Luke Silver

Carla and I draw our blood in the auditorium. They collect our specimens in Dixie cups and send them to a laboratory. Do it! Do it! they urge us. We disrobe and I masturbate onto their microscope slides. My performance improves when I look at Carla’s breasts. My performance diminishes when I look at Carla’s helmet. Carla’s helmet is always turning black. I do not know what face is under Carla’s helmet. It is supposed to be from Nicaragua. Carla does not know what face is under my helmet. It is from the United States.

At night we sleep in separate dormitories and, sometimes, I hear her whimpering through the walls. Hector. Hector. I wish Carla would stop. I wish Carla would let me sleep. I wish Carla would take our responsibilities more seriously.

Sometimes, she communicates to me that her heart is broken. When she does this, I communicate to her that Hector is dead. Still, when they demand we lie together, her breasts feel cold like there is no organ beating beneath them. When they demand we lie together, her helmet is always turning black.

Most weeks I give Carla a rating of fair on the peer evaluation form. Under additional comments, I often write “lacking energy and enthusiasm.” I do not know what grade Carla gives me. It does not matter. They have no replacements for us.

On Tuesdays, Carla self-administers a pregnancy test. So far all the tests have come back negative. Carla communicates that she feels lucky this is the case. I communicate that she must soon adopt a positive outlook. We have an important function in the preservation of the human race. Still, every time Carla squats and pees on the thermometer, her helmet turns black. Carla’s helmet is always turning black.

I sometimes share Carla’s morbid sentiments. Their tests on our bodily fluids have not produced any tangible results. I know this because we stay in their compound. I know this because they continue to ask for samples. I know this because they stock my dormitory with Lemon-Ice flavored Gatorade, and say, Drink up! We need you to replenish your electrolytes.

I do not communicate my unease with Carla. I do not express my belief that medical breakthroughs will never be reached. Doing so will disturb her and likely turn her helmet black. It seems impolite to expose her to more worry. Her helmet is already always turning black.

Recently they have begun examining Carla’s hormones. They fear that she is unable to reproduce because she is deteriorating from stress. I am not deteriorating from stress. I am drinking all of my Gatorade. My teeth are deteriorating from sugar, but I am not deteriorating from stress.

Whenever Carla leaves to get doctored, I draw on the walls with a Sharpie marker. Sometimes I draw out my name in block letters. Sometimes I draw Jean Luc-Godard in Breathless with a fedora and a gun. Sometimes I draw two stick figures having sex doggy-style or holding a stick figure baby. The stick figures are Carla and myself.
I recently sent in a request form for a queen-sized bed. Under additional comments, I suggested moving Carla and myself into the same dormitory. Snuggling together nightly should help expedite Carla’s familiarity with our coital routine.

I have not decided whether I want to see the face under Carla’s helmet. In my mind, she is attractive, but I am aware that this might not be so. I have decided Carla does not want to see the face under my helmet. I am not Hector, and she continues to cry for him at night. But still, we are the only ones with natural antibodies that can withstand what they brought. But still, time changes everything.

They reassure us that our helmets are for our own safety. From what I do not know. They did not tell me. Nor did they accept my request for monochromatic helmets. They did accept my request for a queen-sized bed. I have not told Carla. I am afraid she will cry. I am afraid her helmet will turn black. For one-hundred-and-eighty-five days, we have lived in this compound. At least once every day, her helmet has turned black.

Yesterday, they brought Carla a dog to help fight her depression. Like us, he is supposedly immune. He is nine months old and a chocolate lab. He makes Carla happy. Today her helmet has stayed a neutral blue. He does not make me happy, however. I detect competition, and I do not know their long-term intentions with him. I do not know his long-term intentions with Carla. If it comes to it, I plan to kill and eat him. But I do not share this with Carla. It would only make her upset. I am afraid it would turn her helmet black. Carla’s helmet is always turning black.


Luke Silver is pursuing his MFA candidacy at Sarah Lawrence College. His work has been accepted by Dogzplot, Literary Juice, BOAAT Journal, and elsewhere. He occasionally tweets @LUKEABRASSI.

Back To Issue Forty-Two


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.