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23 January 2007 @ 03:15 am
I used to draw the X's bright and red on the calendar, keeping the countdown in my head: this many months, this many weeks, this many days. But now they come a little slower, the lines a little thinner, because maybe, maybe this is it.

This supposed life I made for myself, purportedly on my own, on my own terms. And here I am, anticipating the day that it's over.

And it's such a jolt, the realization. It makes me dig my heels into the ground, stare at the skyline and miss it before it's gone. I don't know all these streets, all the hidden haunts. This city like a jilted lover, when I have not tread its every dusty, dirty alley, but I have traced every inch (and mile; and miles) of his body over and over and over.

It should be that my heart is hours, states away, but a part of it is here, beating beneath the streets, matching the rhythm of the traffic, the fall of footsteps.

Sometimes, I don't know how there could possibly be room for me anywhere else.
22 November 2006 @ 02:18 am
There are days when you are all that exists in the world.

You are saying into my hair, simply, "You are the best girl; you are my favorite girl." My eyes are closed, and your arms are tight and warm around my waist.

I think of the girls who came before me and it is inconceivable to me--incomprehensible--that they let you go.
19 October 2006 @ 05:59 pm
I will pack all of your things into a box, quietly, one night alone in my room. I will pause over things that were never yours, that you bought for me on whims, and things we bought together, and I will look at them blankly, not knowing who they belong to now; not knowing what they mean. I will press your shirts to my face, vainly seeking the scent of you, so long ago replace by the scent of me.

When I have scoured my room, when I have fought to keep myself from retaining these pieces of you, I will push the box under my bed, unsure of what to do with it. I will think of mailing it to you, of the look on your face as you remove the tape and pull back the cardboard folds, and I will suck my bottom lip into my mouth, my teeth pressing too hard into my skin. I will try to imagine what you will do with these clothes that now smell like me, to guess how many times you will have to wash them before they're yours again.

I will think that I should do us both a favor and throw the whole mess in the trash, and it will be then that I cry.
20 September 2006 @ 08:02 pm
She's taken to calling her dad every other day, sometimes more often.

And it's not like their lives are all that exciting. She's started reading the newspaper every afternoon on her lunch break, just to make sure she has something to talk about; something diverting to fill the silence, the meaning of which she is afraid to discover.

Sometimes they talk about her mother, and it always kills her, just a little. She doesn't tell him how often she speaks with her mom, and he doesn't ask. She feels like maybe he already knows, and then she feels guilty and old.

She stops herself from flat-out asking if he's been eating, but just barely. Instead she'll phrase it, "What'd you have for dinner?" If she's feeling particularly clever, she might pretend she's hungry and is looking for ideas. She's pretty sure he sees right through this. These are, after all, the same sorts of conversations he has with his father.

And she realizes this, suddenly, and thinks about how old this must make him feel--how doomed--and so she doesn't call for three days straight.

When she does call--on a Friday, feeling well-intentioned again, and having stored up things to say--he cannot disguise the relief in his voice.
07 September 2006 @ 09:29 pm
At my last apartment, with different roommates, our bathroom sink would always be littered with tiny, curling strands of blue fuzz. And that would be strange to me, because it did not match the color of any of our towels. Where did that fuzz come from?

This is what I am thinking as I bend down to spit out my toothpaste, eye to porcelain with a different sink, with different people. There is no fuzz on this sink. There is some water, and there is nothing else. It looks empty, the way this place feels.

I remember then, too, a boy I used to sleep with. His sheets were black flannel, and he washed them infrequently. In the mornings, there would always be traces of its fuzz inside my nose, and if I'd been sleeping naked, there would be some on the toilet paper after my morning pee.

It was something unendearing--something I grew to hate--not because the fuzz itself was bothersome, but because I knew if my sheets had ever left such gifts behind on him, I would hear about it for days. Somehow, I would be to blame. And so in the mornings, in his bathroom, I would blow my nose and quietly hate him.
16 June 2006 @ 10:03 am
He likes to do this thing where he put his hand on her stomach and pretends to feel the baby kick.

She is consistently unamused.

Once a month, every month, she crosses her fingers for two or three days at a time and thinks, "Please come please come please come," the words gaining speed until there is no pause between them. Because she is twenty, but more than because she is twenty, because she has these plans. These plans that maybe never allow for her belly to swell.

And so, she hosts this once a month vigil.

And once a month she thinks, "Never again."

But then, of course, his hand is rough on her hip, and she forgets.
06 June 2006 @ 11:38 am
Jason has been smoking with variable frequency for the last ten years of his life. This girl he's been seeing, Tracy, has been around for about four months. Tracy has dark blond hair that falls in curls around her shoulders. Her eyes are wide and round, and so is her ass. She is soft and curvy and smells like oranges.

When Jason's friends first met Tracy, after their fourth date--two dates before they became "official"--they asked how she was in bed, thinking about the gentle curve of her hips. Jason, with no need for false bravado, admitted that he didn't know yet, but he was working on it. Oh, was he working on it.

It turned out that Tracy was not all that great in bed. However, Jason had only been with two other girls and had sex a total of four times between them--three times with his second girlfriend, Mary, who was a year older than him and broke up with him when she left for college, and once with a girl at a party whose name he couldn't remember--before Tracy came along, and so he didn't realize that perhaps she was not the most inventive, or outgoing, or interesting in bed. He loved the way she looked, biting her lip with her eyes screwed shut, and he loved that he got to see it three or four times a week, and so that was enough.

And Tracy, who Jason has seen naked only while she was on her back, is not much more interesting when her clothes are on. She goes to the community college twice a week for an algebra class, because her parents make her, for a degree she hasn't decided on yet. Really, she tells Jason, she's just appeasing them until she gets married. Jason doesn't flinch when she says this, and she takes that as a good sign.

Jason doesn't flinch because he doesn't know what it means, that she's telling this to him. He takes another bite of his burger, washes it down with a gulp of his milkshake, and stands at the table. Tracy doesn't need to ask where he's going because she sees his finger already sliding into his pocket.

Outside, he smokes two cigarettes, enjoying the excuse to be in the cool evening air. If he looked through the diner's large front windows, he would see Tracy tapping her fork idly against the table, staring distantly off into space. But he doesn't look. He watches the smoke rise into the sky until it dissipates.

When he returns to the table, Tracy frowns at him a little. He doesn't notice, so she says, softly, "I wish you'd quit smoking, Jason."

He dips a fry into his ketchup before looking up at her. "Yeah?"

He looks more curious than offended or guarded, so she continues, "Yeah, just, you know. It's so expensive, and it's so bad for your health," she pauses, trying to read his expression, but it's the same blank curiousness. "I mean, it's just such a waste."

Jason nods; these aren't things he hasn't thought of before. He says, "Well, I guess that's true."

His assent emboldens her, so she says, "I mean, don't you want to be around for your kids? My grandfather died of lung cancer when my dad was thirteen. Granted, my grandfather was fifty-five at the time, but you see what I'm saying?"

"Yeah, Trace, sure. I see what you're saying."

Not looking quite at him, her face slightly flushed, she continues, "I know I would hate to be a widow with two kids, one thirteen, the other seven."

"It would be pretty terrible," he concedes, and takes the last bite of his burger and removes his wallet from his pocket. As he's calculating the tip, Tracy is telling him how she's always wanted two kids, so that they could play with each other. He nods absently, lays down the cash, and shoos her to the door.

Driving Tracy home, he doesn't smoke, because that would be weird, wouldn't it? Right after they just talked about it? He drops her off on the curb in front of her parent's house, and she leans over the stick shift to kiss him goodbye. On his way back to campus, he imagines Tracy with a baby in her arms and another in her swelling belly. It's a look that suits her; in his mind, she is smiling and vibrant. When he imagines himself taking the baby from her and putting his free hand at the small of her back, he doesn't recognize the avatar his brain has created that's supposed to be him.

He lights a cigarette.
23 May 2006 @ 09:20 pm
In our simpler life, I fall asleep with you every night and wake up with you every morning. We rise at the same time, eat the same breakfast, and take the same train. I get off two stops before you, and I kiss you goodbye with my body half out the door. I think about you at lunch, wondering what we'll do for dinner. I meet you at the stop in front of your work, and we go see a movie. On the way home from the train station it starts raining, and you hold your hands above my head in a futile attempt to shield me from the drops. On our stoop, which has no awning, I kiss you for a long time, recreating that romantic fairy tale scene as we've both always wanted to but for some reason had failed to get around to. Our bed smells like us, and every night I go to sleep happy.

That's it.

Don't fuck it up. I promise if you promise.
26 April 2006 @ 03:52 pm
We are sitting on a foreign bed, in a foreign city. There is a bag of luggage between us, spilling onto the comforter, and there is wine on my tongue, heavy and sweet, and there is no one else, our silence hovering between us. My left hand is tracing careless circles on my thigh, and you are resolutely not looking.

But they are not careless. And I am silently willing you to look.

Every minute you wait is one less minute we have.

Every minute you wait, I am losing my nerve.

Finally, I speak. My voice is thicker, richer than I remember it. This afternoon, while he and I were huddled over a map, I caught you looking at me. Or maybe I didn't; at the time, I didn't give it any thought. But now, I joke about getting lost earlier, and I hope that if you were looking at me, this can somehow be our code, and you will know what I want.

But you don't, because you, you are charmingly clueless. Maybe, you would never guess.

The minutes are still sliding away.

I stand, conjuring excuses in my head to move closer to you, and the mattress shifts, spilling the contents of the luggage further onto the bed, falling onto the floor. I kneel, hurrying to clear the clutter, and you bend over from your seat on the bed to help. And it's like in the movies, because your hand brushes my thigh--the exact spot I'd been circling--and then that's it. There are a few uncertain seconds when your fingers linger against the denim of my jeans. You look as if you might say my name, but then you kiss me instead, hesitant until you realize I am not pulling away, and then you are on top of me, pining my body to the floor between the matching twin beds, t-shirts and travel magazines getting tangled up with our legs.

I don't let you kiss me after that, and we don't meet each other's eyes. I can feel you hard against your jeans, and reach down tentatively; you will not touch me, and maybe I am okay with that.

It's quick, because it has to be, and even if it didn't, I can't imagine it in any context that isn't a blur. You come in my hand unexpectedly, and this causes less guilt in me than when I let your tongue slip into my mouth.

You roll off of me immediately, embarrassed and shameful. You are about to run into the bathroom until I clear my throat, causing you to turn to look at me, and gesture with my soiled hand. Sheepish, you let me pass you in the doorway and close the door behind me.

When I come out--taking much longer than it takes a person to wash her hands--he is back, and you are laughing together. But you are faking and he--of course, much more so than I--can tell that you're faking, but why would he think that it is anything more than you being weird, as you are famously known to be?

There is no smell of sex in the air; there is no evidence of such an act. I kiss him full on the mouth before sitting down beside him, sliding my hand into his, and he is not suspicious.

He is not suspicious, because there is no reason to be.

He is not suspicious, because this is not what happened.

This is what might have happened, were we slightly different people.

This is not what happened, but is what I thought about while he was gone, thinking maybe something would happen and hoping/dreading that it would.

But it didn't, because we are not those people.

Maybe, I did try to bait you. Touched myself in ways that were suggestive, but only if you wanted them to be. Leaned too close and laughed too loud. And maybe you liked it, and maybe you flirted back, but just because you felt like it was safe; because you knew I didn't mean it.

Probably, I didn't.

But maybe I did.

I want you because of the ways you are unlike him, and unlike the boys that came before him. And I want you because of the parts of you that remind me of him; a variant on something I already love.

But later, when you are two feet away, sleeping heavy with wine and pot, and I am tangled naked with him beneath the sheets, I am not thinking of you at all.