Bunched up around my thighs the gingham dress was a sticky double skin. It was not intended for close nights like these, though in fact I had been quite cool earlier when walking, the breeze licking across my knees in a familiar way. But now it trapped my thick heat close, and because I didn’t want to place my skin to his again, I tugged the dress a little higher and widened my legs a little more, hoping he was asleep and not able to see a second invitation in my parted thighs.
Even were he not so drunk, and had the juices been working as they might have done normally, I doubt there would have been a better performance between us. He had yet to say my name correctly, and this I considered too important to forgive. It was the reason I had stifled his name in my mouth earlier; a petty revenge, but necessary.
I was not here tonight because of luck, or the other extremity of detailed planning. In fact, before we settled upon his bed I didn’t know how he saw me, or even if he thought much about me.
Laying with my arm wrapped around the towel that supported my head (only one pillow, and it had become solely his in the last hour), I tried to believe that he had been considerate, stroking my belly, holding my hand with his thumb on my wrist, laying his cheek to mine and claiming me with soothing low breath, cupping the top of my head so it wouldn’t hit the wall when he began his last violent rhythm. But then I have always been a cynic, and as much as I desired romance, nothing could alter the fact that, compelled to kiss his shoulder and curl across his chest, I instead turned my head away and fell into feigned sleep.
It was not regrettable, it had been pleasant, but not in the way that I had hoped. The swivel in his hips had been something new, not a thing remembered, anyway, but also not the be all and end all of the evening. It saddened me to realize that the end of the evening had come when he had opened his door and led me inside, so when he woke me from supposed sleep a few hours later I did not speak or ask for a ride home, though I took it when offered. I wished for some excuse now, that I could blame this one on a drunken stupor or a simple lapse in judgment, but I would be given no such excuses.
I gathered myself, feeling the cold hardness of morning, remembering the feeling from many hours before and wishing now that i had kissed his shoulder, laid my skin to his, something to change the fact of how I was now broken and that I wasn’t still in his bed and kissing him. Then again, the difference might not have been much, so I held my words inside and didn’t offend us both with platitudes. It was done, his shoulder had not been kissed, and I was walking to my door pretending not to see him wave and hoping he would not call out something nice or silly, for I was still endeared to him and might have gone back had he asked. But he didn’t, and I began to look forward to sleeping without him, noticing that my heat smelled different somehow, thinner and less sure of its direction, as I dropped my dress to the floor and lay on my bed, skin to skin with myself.
It seemed he crawled in from the door, across the bargain carpet, his shadow climbing up my legs before i could even catch the scent of him. Far too comfortable on his knees, too familiar with the ground, i knew his hands would be too soft, too large when finally they came upon me. I knew they could not grab me with the force that I had wanted, needed for some months. But I wanted to be close, and he was there, open, wanting to open me.
It was not the first time that his hands had touched me with intent, it was merely that now, I allowed it. His fingers strayed to my belly, which burned more hotly than any of my limbs, the seeming favorite place of men, most of whom i choose not to understand. Stretching over me, arms against the wall, my wall, he lay his beer-soaked tongue on mine, his scruffed chin making me wish for the return of his too-pliant fingers, not minding how now they covered too much of me, hoping they might press out my fear and blind me to the scent of him.
I was the second time my gingham dress had been pressed, uncomprehending, into service. It craved attention, unbuttoned before my own wanting. Wishing I could close myself up again, aware that I had gone too far to do so, his thumbs found the gap, exploited it, widened his access to me even more.
He was too little of a man at times, and too much at others, they always were, but still I went ahead with encouraging sighs and raptured features, hoping that as I took in his noxious fumes it might kill my lingering reticence. I knew that I could have him, or rather that I would let him take me, yet knew that I did not wish to go anywhere with him.
Thinking of how I am never satisfied, and remembering how men had failed me there before, I took my tongue back from him, separated my scent, collected my scattered parts and made sure that I woud leave nothing of myself behind for him to claim as his own. Disturbed to find myself on the ground, for he had pulled me down, not beneath him, but lower than I desired to be, I pulled myself apart and was nearly disappointed when he left after only two no’s and three I can’ts.
He walked out upright, I watched him go, wondering why he couldn’t have entered that way. It might have made some difference, might have made a yes fall from me instead. Too familiar, his departure. They always seem to become what I need when I have no need of them anymore, elevated from my refusal, becoming men in my rejection.
It was not so long after he left, but long enough for things to be broken, for the wall, my wall, to crack and begin crumbling, for me to realize that I had to leave as well. I navigated through the wreckage I had made, pushed out into the night, and drove the same path I always have, out of town on roads that do not bend, caressing the pedals and coaxing further distance between he and I, knowing that it was too early for morning to come quickly, but seeing that when I did come into it, I would have to share it with no one, open only to myself.
For days we had shared a bed, lay on its kingness, with so much room at its foot that our bodies grew smaller. It must have been a double-king, if such a thing is possible, and we dumped ourselves into its borrowed body every night and nothing but sleep came between us.
He claimed the middle, I on his left, and though I could not see her, for we kept the room indecently dark, I heard her breath, felt the bed shiver when we were still, and I knew her to be on his other side, the right one, the inconvenient one.
I pretended sleep, giving him, yes, and her, an audible deepness in my measured sighs, waiting. I thought he might whisper to her, and though sometimes he spoke, it was never about me, what I waited for, his secrets of me, and even more, how she might reply.
But I was never between them, and I was not content with his small murmurs. I would wrap the bed around me, face out, sleep. Even in dreams afraid of missing my name, I was restless every night.
Some mornings I woke alone, some, all of us still lay small in our row, all trying not to leave first, though I usually tired of waiting, and went out the door face forward, not wanting to see him in the light, not wanting to see how her face had been on him in the night.
For days we slept, we woke this way.
Once, I opened my eyes and she had gone, her breath had gone, our bed, seeming to come to rest at last, was silent, solid. It needed nothing more from us than our weight. We faced each other, now, and I heard him breathe, finally, for the first time, it was in my mouth, moved on me, into me, looking for her, I knew. Not finding her, still it searched, my breath on him, my eyes half on him, half closed to the air around us.
His hand was on me, journeyed over me, over my breast, grew bold. His palm was wider than I would have thought, but I did not want it, I wanted an unconscious moment with him, something to share but not remember. I removed myself, I did not speak his name, perhaps I did not want to wake him, perhaps I did. Perhaps he was already awake, perhaps not.
I slept, only after long moments of looking at him, dreading his open eyes, his emptiness that might become mine, refusing to admit that it had already begun to seep in, to take away my fullness.
I slept, knowing his hand was not meant for me, my tongue not meant for his. When I woke next he was gone. I let the bed’s cool shouldgers keep me that day. I wrapped the bed around me, I did not walk through the door, simply knowing that I could now be the last one out was enough.
I slept, restless, face out, still needing to hear my name, waiting for the hand that would belong only to me.