taken

taken

My son has his high school orientation this week. We arrive early, so I steer us to a row of side seats in the far back where I can monitor the influx of people.

It’s my job as a good mother to suss out the scene and liberally narrate my findings for Django’s benefit. So I’m busy calculating the ratio of girls to boys when a man in a track suit approaches and asks, “Is this seat taken?” of the empty next to us.

And it’s nothing short of unbelievable to me, because there’s a whole auditorium of other seats available.

It immediately reminds me of the time at the amusement park when a single tried to join Lovey, Django and me on the ferris wheel.

“You are not riding with us,” I told him, straight up.

And Lovey and Django were embarrassed and were like, “Delilah…”

But I said to the them, “Look, guys. We don’t know him, right? And for all I know he’s the type of  person who throws kids off the ferris wheel when it stops at the top. Do you really think I’m going to just let that happen?”

This somehow made their embarrassment worse, but I turned to the man and said, “It’s a safety issue, okay? I’m sorry. The answer is no.”

And at that I closed the little ferris wheel door, because the attendant whose job it should have been was just standing there uncomfortably and not doing it for me.

The single sat instead in the cart right behind us. The kids claimed it ruined the whole ride for them. And to be honest, it cast a negative light on my experience as well.

But no kids were thrown from the ferris wheel that day, so it’s pretty clear I did the right thing. Except for that I maybe should have also added, “And you can’t ride in the cart behind us, either.”

This time I don’t make the same mistake.

“All of these seats are taken actually,” I say, throwing my arm wide.

Referring, apparently, not only to the seat next to Django, but to all of the seats in the nearby vicinity.

“All of them?” the man echoes.

“There are plenty of seats up front,” I point out, helpfully.

The man in the track suit looks confused for a second, then retreats. As soon as his back is turned, Django literally does a facepalm, because that’s a real thing teenage boys who have mothers do.

“You are so embarrassing.”

Django has trouble being as direct as I am. This concerns me, and I make a note to review it with him later. But right then and there, I just make the teachable moment as short and sweet as possible.

“I’m sorry,” I say to him. “But did you want that man who is at a high school orientation sans an actual high schooler to sit next to you? Because I didn’t.”

Django shakes his head, but not in the way that means no. More in the way that means he can’t believe this is happening.

He’s had a relatively easy life, my son.

“Just stop, okay?” Django says, fighting a smile so that I will hopefully take him seriously.

He’s cute.

“I love you so much Django,” I let him know, loudly. “Sometimes it’s everything I can do not to scream it out at the top of my lungs.”

“Oh my God, Delilah.”

I laugh.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sympathetic to how embarrassing one’s parents are at his age.

But when it comes down to it,  I have been personally surveying the arrival of dozens of other mothers, and with all modesty, I’m for sure in the top two percent of moms you wish you had.

Unless you’re Django. But whatever.

“It’s okay to be embarrassed by me,” I tell him. “It’s part of life, totally normal. So you’re right on track. But really, boy, when you have a chance, check out some of these other parents and count yourself lucky.”

That’s what I say. And it’s within probably thirty seconds of that comment that I see The Piranha walk through the doors.

I grab Django’s arm.

“Oh my God. Is that your dad?” I ask him.

Django’s head shoots up, and before I know it he’s waving his hand in the air.

Like in that come hither kind of way.

I fight the urge to grab his hand and pull it down.

Besides, Django has already caught his attention, anyway.

The Piranha gives Django a chin nod, and begins the ascent to us.

There are a lot of sudden revisions to this situation on which I should probably focus in order to stay sharp.

But wouldn’t you know it? I’m instead hypnotized by The Piranha’s approach.

Despite how wrong things have always been between us, the man has got a great strut.

It has long since been my undoing.

“Hey,” he says, upon reaching us.

And then he does a surprising and weird but very cool thing, and takes a seat in the row behind us.

If you’re into reading too much from gestures that probably mean nothing, his taking the seat above us kind of says that he’s watching out for us. That he’s got our backs.

You know, like how I thought he was supposed to have done from the beginning?

“Delilah has just been embarrassing me,” Django fills him in.

“Oh yeah?” The Piranha says.

These two. All these years later, and I’m still the main thing they have in common. But so it goes.

The Piranha leans back and spreads his arms across the width of the neighboring chairs on either side of him.

“You ready?” he asks our son. I assume he means about high school.

“Yeah,” Django says.

“Are you?” I ask.

It sounds about as snide as I intend, which is kind of too bad, because a part of me is actually glad he’s here.

“I’m ready,” he says, grinning. “Let’s do this.”

~

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manless january, the return

manless january

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” -Oscar Wilde

So I forgot to tell you about Manless January, which is a holiday I invented last year to save my own life.

This year, Manless January acted more as a preventative. And I was surprised by how strong I’d grown.

Because sometimes I don’t recognize myself.

Which is really too bad.

I don’t want to sound terribly vain, but it’s almost hopeless, because I just am.

Or maybe it’s not vanity, precisely.

It’s just that sometimes, all alone, my heart swells so big inside of my chest.

And I burst out laughing, giddy in the middle of the street, as it refuses to be contained.

Because, when I let myself be, I am really so in love.

With myself.

Ridiculous, perhaps. Should I be embarrassed?

There’s just been so much lost time.

I’m not really sure how it happened, but I somehow went from being a boy-crazy young girl to a relationship-ruined adult woman, and then on to being a sexual lightweight whose love of the act became the equivalent of a meth addiction.

No, back up, that last part isn’t true.

That’s just something of which I was was accused.

Which plays into Manless January directly. Because part of Manless January is not accepting anyone’s definition of myself but my own.

It’s unfortunate, but in other months of the year, I’m susceptible to the random and perhaps innocuous suggestions of men.

I tried to whine about this with my girlfriends, but they wouldn’t have it.

“You act like you’re the only woman who gets reckless because of men.”

What? Am I not?

Either way, I’d like to be above that.

I believe in myself, and having one month of the year that belongs to just me keeps that belief strong.

And Manless January has a certain festive quality to it, anyway.

This year I launched out and purchased a Margot Tenenbaum coat, just for the occasion.

And I wrapped up all tight in it and had a great little month.

If you were to have peeked outside of my psychic window in January—and I  would never have suggested that you do that. In fact, I would have tackled you down before you could have. But if somehow you had gotten past me and my fervent determination—I’ll tell you what you would have seen patrolling my yard.

First of all, there was the big bad wolf. In all honesty I was far more afraid that he was going to hurt himself than hurt me, but even so. He was there. He’d been lurking around out there for weeks because I’d stupidly let him catch a whiff of my sweet maiden scent. I have no idea why I did that. I was bored? I guess. Anyway. That was A.

B was the mad scientist with the tortured brilliance to whom I’d accidentally turned over the reins. Um, that really didn’t go well. I’ve never in my whole life been yelled at quite like that. It was jarring and fascinating and oddly stimulating, but we all know I needed a little break after that.

C was just a light-hearted man that was all wrong for me. Well, a light-hearted man, and his stupid  muscles. Am I really still such a sucker for a man’s muscles? Yes, yes, I am. Sometimes all a smart woman wants are some stupid muscles wrapped sweet around her.

So there was variety. But I didn’t open the door to any of them, not really.

And now I’m all woman-strong and focused and happy again, just being me. And it’s been a whole additional month in which I’ve maintained that footing, even without being manless.

So we’ll see what happens now. I really mostly just wanted to tell you about it, so you could challenge me if and when you see it crumbling.

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shadow box

make believe

I don’t wonder what he is to me. Nor what I am to him. It’s glaringly obvious that I am a fantasy object that he believes would make his life complete, and absolutely wouldn’t.

Elusive happiness, and one’s rabid attempt to find it.

Nonetheless, I’m lured by the storyline he’s created for us. Not as a reality but as the bizarre plot it is. It interests me, from a viewer’s standpoint. Watching it play out, watching myself fail at the fictional depiction of what he thinks I could be to him.

“I love you. I love you. I love you,” he whispers, that first night. And it’s obvious how much this gets him off, so I let him, for a while.

But at a certain point that kind of nonsense is just too much.

“Listen. You have to stop that,” I tell him.

“Why can’t you just let a man love you?” he wants to know.

That’s so far from the issue that it defies response.

I don’t begin to know how to get it through his sweet head that the only reason he feels safe in this romantic delusion with me is because I’d never actually go for it.

“I just saw it so clearly,” he tells me later, pacing the room, running a manic hand through his hair. “I’m going to marry you.”

I’m lazy in bed. He’s gone out for three cigarettes in the time it’s taken me to slowly wake up enough to listen to anything he has to say.

I peek out at him from beneath the covers.

Marry me? That’s a laugh. No one is ever going to marry me. And I’ve definitely told him that, in no uncertain terms.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” he asks.

“No,” I say, patting the recess in the bed where he has every opportunity to be, if he could ever just accept what’s honestly in front of him.

“Well, I am,” he tells me, that crazy look on his face. A mixture of terror and delight. “I’m going to marry the shit out of you, Delilah.”

And at that he shocks even himself. His eyes get wider and he covers his mouth with his hand.

“Oh my God, I’m going to marry you.”

The man is not going to marry me. I’m not even a part of the equation that he thinks he’s solving. But there’s something adorable in his rant; I can’t help it. Marry the shit out of me? I mean, come on. That’s just cute.

We couldn’t be more opposite. If he’d ever slow down enough to absorb one single quality of my personality, he’d recognize how little he actually cares for my style. I am quiet, sleepy, demure, withdrawn, while he’s going a thousand miles an hour towards a destination that doesn’t exist.

“Maybe I should step right in his path. Go kamikaze on him,” I suggest to Eden, the next day. She’s the adorable pixie at work that serves as my assistant, the one person with whom I accidentally share everything.

“Yes, yes, marry me! Do it!” I satire, prancing around the office.

“Please! Please! Now! We belong together for all time!” At this I clasp my hands together and shake them, pleading.

Eden laughs, shakes her lion’s mane hair no. “You couldn’t do it,” she tells me. “You couldn’t pull it off.”

I laugh too, but then feel suddenly mean.

“It’s not even about me,” I tell her.

She shrugs.

~

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rock garden

rock-garden-sean-kirkpatrick

Shortly after Mum threw the hammer at my little brother, I was finally awarded custody of him.

It was a mixed blessing. Tripp, at 14, and I, at 24, were both relieved to have finally escaped Mum’s reach.

But Tripp was already suffering from damage that would take far more than my custody of him to heal. And, in hindsight, I didn’t nearly measure up to the great guardian I thought I’d be.

Within two years, he’d be taken away from me, too, to spend the rest of his adolescence in juvenile detention and court-ordered treatment centers. And I’d spend those miserable years keeping stride, nurturing for him the belief that his addictions were the acceptable result of being mistreated.

Not knowing that lack of personal responsibility doesn’t, in fact, help a boy become a man.

But at the time we were doing the best we could, and one way or another, that’s the story we wrote together.

This many years later, we’re only beginning to rewrite that story.

Be that as it may, for a short time my brother was in fact mine.

We lived first in a crumbling studio apartment on the ground floor of a dirty street. The place was truly terrible. Though we tried to fondly refer to it as the hellhole, neither of us could actually stand to be there. We’d take turns with the bed next to the window and the sleeping bag on the floor, and when I finally got sick of seeing Tripp in the same outfit, I called Mum to let her know I needed to come get his things.

Mum surprised me by conceding to this, the normal level of abuse caused by her own pain absent. Looking back, I know that she did so because she actually loved her boy. But at the time I felt like we were miraculously pulling one over on her.

I made the drive to her house alone, Tripp refusing to join. And as much as I hoped his stuff would be out front when I arrived, eliminating the need for a face-to-face,  it wasn’t.

The house was open, so I walked in. That seems funny to me, now. I hadn’t been welcome in that house for years. But I guess, having done some growing up there, it still kind of felt like mine.

It was the house that dad bought for his family, not knowing there wouldn’t be one.

I found Mum out back, kneeling in the rock garden.

She had a scouring brush in one hand, and a single rock in the other. The hose was nearby, lightly running water.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

It was apparent to me what she was doing, so I’m not sure why I asked.

I guess because I was avoiding the real question, the answer to which lacked logic, but would have been: “Why are you doing that?”

Mum wouldn’t look at me. She just continued picking up one wet rock at a time and thoroughly scrubbing it before placing it to her right. Some of the rocks she had already bathed were by now sun-dried, and bore the exact resemblance to the millions as yet untouched.

It hurt, watching her do this. And the message I received was that I had just destroyed the only mother I had.

It killed me. The lack of sanity. The lack of hope or life or love. The emptiness and hollowness.

I couldn’t help it. I knelt down next to her and took her strange hands in mine. I meant to take my brother from her, but I didn’t mean to ruin her life. The fact that the two were inseparable should have been obvious to me, but wasn’t.

“This is pointless,” I told her.

And Mum did what she always did in the face of love. Pushed me away first, so that she could feel that the choice had been hers.

“Get out of my house,” she said. “I didn’t ask you here.”

And the funny, horrible part is that I was glad she did it. It was easier to deal with her being villain than victim. It was easier to turn my back on her than to try to love someone so far gone.

It’s shameful to admit this, but it’s the truth.

From the beginning of time, I was her daughter. But I never wanted to deal with her depths. I never loved her enough to want to walk through life with her in a constructive way. I preferred her pushing me away. Even when I saw through it, and knew that she was really saying, “Please help me. I am so lost,” I always made the choice to pretend her words were what she meant.

So I left her, in the rock garden.

And let her die.

~

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2 hours, 9 minutes

59 minutes

He is, quite simply, everything. The entire rest of the adult male population means nothing to her, except perhaps in their contrast.

“You’re leaving?” he asks, when he comes back from the bathroom and finds her dressed.

“Yes,” she answers, and considers explaining that she prefers to leave with no specific ending, so that she doesn’t experience the month-long desperation to return that she felt last time.

But she believes he knows, or understands, and chooses instead to say nothing. It’s always the better option for her.

Right in line with the nothing she likes to give when asked to repeat herself.

“What did you just say?” he asks, frequently.

And upon that type of examination, scarcely anything bears repeating.

Besides, she often feels that the more words she uses, the further she gets from telling the truth.

Today, in bed, he swung a leg over her torso and sat comfortably on her abdomen, looking down at her.

“I’m in the process of monogamizing,” he mentioned, watching her carefully. “In an attempt to dechaos my life.”

“I hope that goes horribly for you,” she responded, without thought.

It surprised him, her saying this.

And somehow that tickled her in a strange way, so that she turned her face to the wall to stifle a giggle.

He bent forward, open palms heavy on her shoulders.

“What’s so funny in there?” he asked, right up close to her ear.

She bit her lip to stop the laughter, and fell into the descent of additional words that made her less honest.

“I’m teasing, B. I just want you to be happy.”

It was such a rote statement, had no meaning.

And she didn’t even notice until he thrust it back on her.

“Do you?” he asked, a menacing quality to his voice as he adjusted his weight to push back into her.

“You just want me to be happy?” This time an exact mimic of her voice.

She closed her eyes. Tried to truly weigh the question as he breathed hot on her face, massaged perfectly the most lonely places inside her.

“Is that what my good girl wants?”

Slightly cruel now. Relentless. Damning in his sexiness.

“No,” she whispered, and felt the unpent freedom of truth.

That is what he does for her. Exposes her lies, heightens her existence.

He’s got the fortitude to match, but his brain is the razor’s edge.

And no, she doesn’t want him to be happy.

Who the fuck would he be to her then?

Life is twisted, gorgeous, and alive.

~

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resemblance

on saying goodbye

Somehow, my son finds a picture of my mum this week.

It’s all such a long story, and it never really stops.

Despite the fact that I shed people regularly, the way a snake sheds its skin.

“You look just like her!” Django tells me, that laughter in his voice when he knows he’s found a way to dismantle the solid woman I am for him.

“Let me see that,” I say, swiping the picture from his hands.

And I see it, instantly, the way I sometimes hear her when I sigh.

It’s a bizarre thing, to see two identities in one person.

Especially when one is you.

And the other is the stranger that raised you.

On the one hand it’s perhaps flattering, because I find the woman in the picture beautiful.

But on the other hand, I feel confused, stifled.

Our resemblance. How could this be?

As if somehow, there is no escape from her.

“I’m going to take a walk,” I tell my boy. “Do you want to come?”

“It’s the middle of the night, Delilah.”

“So no?”

He tilts his head to the side and looks at me.

I busy myself with finding my jacket, gloves, hat.

“You go,” he allows.

I am aware that this is one of those moments when I’m acting stupid.

Make a note to make fun of myself about it with him later.

Or not. Sometimes moments define themselves better without words.

My mum. I called her once, right before my son was born, meaning to tell her of his upcoming presence.

“Why are you calling me?” she wanted to know. Putting it to me straight.

And I knew right then there was nothing more to say. But I couldn’t think fast enough of a reasonable way to get off the phone.

“I don’t know,” I lied. “I guess I just thought I’d call, you know, because we’re family.”

“You don’t act like family,” she responded.

And she was right. It was an incredibly good point.

But in my own defense, did she?

I mean, not to place blame, but from whom should I have learned family, exactly?

“You are nothing to me,” was what she said next.

“Oh. Okay.”

“We might be related by blood, Delilah, but blood is not thicker than water.”

I winced.

This statement has always stuck with me.

Not because it hurt, but because it was so very very stupid.

And even as I started crying, I felt less betrayed by what she was saying than by my own mother’s inability to articulate herself better.

Like as if we were having this very important moment that would define my life for all time, and what was unforgivable about it was that she couldn’t even make it poetic for me.

To this day, I feel disappointed by that line.

~

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the photojournalist

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gives me his address and tells me to stop by.

says he wants to read to me.

yes, read to me.

so i do.

and he does.

among other things.

but then he starts in on the questions.

he wants to know about my friends, who they are, what they’re like.

“you don’t know them,” I laugh. “they’re supportive.”

“supportive how?”

his intensity makes me falter.

but i like this about him.

i like the challenge of being in his presence.

“supportive how?” he asks again.

“well, for example, right now they’re waiting outside in the car. in case you try to hurt me.”

“do they have sniper rifles?” he asks, not missing a beat. “because i have friends outside too, with sniper rifles aimed at your friends.”

the photojournalist doesn’t even smile when he says this, though i can’t help but to myself.

later, after i know more about his life, i find it interesting that this was the joke he chose.

there are actual events from his past in which sniper rifles are not funny at all.

but sometimes that’s the way we deal.

“how old were you when your father died?” he wants to know.

“eleven.”

“that must have been hard.”

i try to remember. with my heart.

there’s not a feeling memory left from that anymore.

“i don’t know,” i answer.

“that’s trauma, right there,” he says, pointing briefly at me before reaching for his loosely measured inch of bourbon.

never taking his eyes from me.

the photojournalist is more of a significant person than my life anticipated.

impactful in the way that a natural disaster is impactful.

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levity

The dark days of winter come and go and she finds, miraculously, that she’s unbroken.

Fragmented perhaps. Splintered definitely. But still so relatively intact that it makes her happy.

Like waking from a bad dream and realizing her real life is still there, waiting to be led zigzag  on a leash, like a suckling, milky-eyed puppy.

“Let’s get you outside,” she says, rising.

Stretching her limbs and feeling in them life.

Which is how she finds herself in a sunny park downtown, with her gorgeous son and her perhaps recovering drug-addled ex.

He’s tortured and trying, but not her responsibility.

Today or ever.

Fact is, it’s shocking anymore, how little investment she makes in anything save beauty and risk.

Even to where she wonders how her lessons were once unlearned.

The lightest breeze lifts her hair, blows her skirt against her legs.

She lets it.

Before walking the kite down a long grassy corridor, her son and old friend unwinding its lead and heading the opposite direction.

“Delilah, now!” they scream, and she slowly pivots and lifts the wide silk triangle high above her head, standing on tiptoes even, before feeling the pull of letting go.

The kite lifts, dips and dances in the current, elevates further.

The joyful boys in the distance triumphant in directing its path of freedom.

~

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how she loved him

mummy-cat

While it’s true that Dad dying changed her life changed irrevocably, there was, long before that, the irrevocable changing of life anyway.

It’s only now, in reaching an age he never attained, that she recognizes how simultaneously insubstantial and grandiose his existence.

Insubstantial because of its disjointed structure. Brevity.

Lacking the development of even one simple character arc.

Grandiose because of how many people were left feeling so desperately lost, despite this.

So desperately lost for so desperately long.

She’s nine when she lives in the high mountains with him.

Mum is gone again, but Delilah doesn’t ask about that.

She never misses her mum like he does.

Doesn’t feel her absence at all, really.

Too busy feeling, among other things, his big heart being ripped open, in such close proximity to hers.

She’s too young to actively comprehend her mother’s disappearances and the part that she might play in them.

And yet? One is somehow never too young to be aware of the dark waters that run through a life.

Delilah sits on the high kitchen counter, legs swinging off the side, eating chocolates, one after the other, when she hears the front door open and slam and the uneven march of her dad’s strong legs.

“Lily?” he calls.

There’s an urgency to this voice that makes Delilah count the aluminum chocolate wrappers next to her on the counter. Seven. Is seven a high number?

She thinks it might be.

Dad turns the corner into the living room and sees her there.

Delilah. Torn stockings. Again. Mussed hair. Boots dripping muddy water onto the carpet.

Dad. His untamed curly hair. How she loves his silly hair. She wants to touch it.

He lifts his hand up to show her what is in it: her blue lunchbox.

“Why weren’t you at school?” he asks, and Delilah slowly draws the connection between the object he’s presenting and the conversation they’re having.

Delilah shrugs.

“I was going to pick you up at school,” he tells her.

Delilah remembers this now. Yes, he was.

Delilah reaches out a small hand to Dad, inviting him to her.

He sighs, sets down the lunchbox, and crosses the room.

There was snow, Dad. Remember?

She doesn’t say this out loud, simply looks at those blue eyes so much more bruise-y than hers and feels that he should understand.

There was snow. It came in during recess, surrounded by a fog.

And the clouds were so low that everything became new, disguised, mysterious.

And her feet just started walking.

There was so much to see.

The way the tall grasses had grown icicles and the sides of the river froze.

And broke beneath her feet. The cracks, like skeins, tearing away from her.

He showed her all of this. He showed her the world.

The way to see it, through his eyes.

Of course he understands.

“Delilah,” Dad says, softly.

He hangs his head and kisses her chocolate-smudged hand.

Daddy, she says, without words.

“You scared me,” he tells her.

He puts his head in her lap, circles her legs in his arms, and starts to cry.

Because it’s really hard, at some point, to try to hold together things that refuse to be held.

Delilah touches his funny springy curls and decides it’s best not to tell him that she found their missing cat.

He’s underneath the back deck. His insides eaten out. His eyes a frozen stare.

Love. It has so many interesting textures.

 ~

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words getting out

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She takes a deep breath.

Because she’s going to have a “proper conversation” with him on Monday.

His words. Mingling with hers.

And the scheduling of this event sent a shiny cocktail fork careening into her beautiful adult female wiring.

Which is just her way of saying she’s grossly unprepared.

Thus the deep breath.

Because breathing seems very ordinary and normal and like it might be a good place to start. Or at least like it can’t screw things up too very badly.

She takes a furtive look around. What else?

Notices her speakers but resists the urge.

That thrash dancing she does to heavy bass beats?

That is secretly her just losing her shit.

Some more.

She nods to herself.

A good option in a different situation.

An effective strategy in the great battle to exhaust her physical body so completely that she paralyzes her emotional self.

But not what she is going for at the moment.

At the moment, rather, she is being faced with the odd request to compile her lopsided thoughts. By Monday. For him.

She’s known him a long time now, and her thoughts have never been much of a topic because…

She’s not really sure why.

She just hasn’t taken much stock of herself as a human being in a human relationship with him in that way.

Other aspects of their synergy having taken priority.

Early on, she remembers his being upset with her about something–she can’t recall what–and her playfully suggesting he take it out on her in the bedroom.

And that seems to have pretty blissfully filled the last six or nine months.

And while a certain argument could be made for how well they’ve grown to know each other in that time, she supposes an argument could also be made for how little they know each other, too.

Well, in fact, that argument was made.

It’s an interesting dichotomy. One they are ostensibly going to broach.

She takes another deep breath. Looks involuntarily at the speakers again. Pulls her hair to the side to stop herself from doing that.

The very worst possibility is that they are not going to like each other at all.

Which, considering the sex, is going to be, yes, devastating, and she would almost rather not take the risk.

But he seems to have crossed this threshold of wanting to get to know her, and as much as she’d like to sit by and say, “There’s nothing to get!” that doesn’t seem to fly anymore.

She plops herself down in a purple kitchen chair and picks up a pencil, writes down the title:

Thoughts I Have

Then she twists the cocktail fork a bit in order to smell her own burning flesh.

Come Monday, she is really so screwed.

Deep breath. The kind where her cheeks puff out when she lets it go.

1.)

She looks down at her pencil, admires how sharp it is. Considers, for the briefest moment, its viability as a weapon. Then slips off her left combat boot and scrunches up her face to write.

1.) I’m not that hot on your putting the pillow over my face when we have sex. Your hands around my neck are good–I love your warm hands on my neck–but the pillow actually does not suffocate me at all. I just sit there beneath it, knowing that you think I can’t breathe, but actually breathing just fine. And it feels strange, hanging out there, underneath that pillow.

She reads what she’s written. Chews on the missing eraser. Looks up and to the left.

Recall.

Then adds,

Also? I think you do that because you get freaked out about my looking at you. And I get a little freaked out by that too. Because what we’re doing together is so ridiculously intimate that it would sometimes be easier if the other person weren’t there, right? 

She stops writing, as she has the feeling they’ve already discussed this.

But then realizes that no, she’s never discussed anything with him, so they wouldn’t have done.

“I must have just thought it to myself,” she muses.

Which actually feels kind of good, knowing that his participation was not required for the evolution of this thought. That she experienced it all by herself. That, despite finding him highly intelligent, she never even sought his validation on it.

2.) Relationships. I’m not good at them. The reason I’m not good at them is because I don’t like getting sucked up inside of men’s heads as if by a shop vac.

She rereads the lines. Notices there’s a questionable double negative happening there.

“Just say it in the positive,” she tells herself. “You can do this. Just be real.”

2.) Relationships. I’m not good at them. The reason I’m not good at them is because I don’t like getting sucked up inside of men’s heads as if by a shop vac. I like being inside my own head.

She looks at number two, and realizes that two says it all. Everything that she ever needed anyone in the world to know about her. Everything she ever needed to know about herself. Her whole life’s experience, compiled in silly number two, with the aforementioned shop vac.

She smiles. Doesn’t breathe at all.

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