You’re too deep into it now, and Brooklyn is imploding on the life you thought you wanted. I’m thinking “yes.” I’m thinking “no.” I’m thinking, “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe it’s ok to not know.” Maybe it’s just hormones or my terrible job or this winter that keeps dancing with this indecision. But everything that happens is just so tragically because of something else. Maybe we’re not all meant to be the lovers we wanted to be.
“What is it?” he asks. “Nothing,” I say. “It’s nothing. Never mind.” But it’s all my fault. It was me who lured him into this. Because I felt so free in the beginning. Because I laughed the laugh I was terrified in revealing to anyone else. Because I had no inhibitions. Because I didn’t care what I looked like in the morning. Because I didn’t need him the way I needed other people. And that’s what made it all so different. He fell too far into the realness of me when I should have known better. And now it was up to me to give him what he wanted, to protect the potential breakdown of the man I’d taught him to become. I smile. I lie down. I bend over. I ask him how he likes it, what he wants me to do, exactly. I say, “Nice to meet you—I’m the girlfriend,” and swallow the awkwardness of that sentence as I cross my feet at the ankles so I can’t run away and be the loner I miss. But I never wanted to be a girlfriend, even the first five times he asked before I had no choice but to say yes. After six months you have to say yes. And when you’re not where you thought you’d be at this age, being too far into your head isn’t such a great place to be really. Surrender to this, let’s see where it goes, I kept telling myself. Maybe our qualities would become mirrors, and my dire pessimism would fizzle in the exchange of emotions while all these beautiful colors seeped from me, from in between my lines, and my weariness dissolving.
My sweat stained the sheets. My lips became swollen. They bled from being bitten too hard, and my skin turned fiery through its northern paleness. This happened, and something dark crept inside of me. I wanted to pretend it wasn’t him, that it was anyone but him stealing my breath through this fuck, because if it was anyone else we could just be animals, and I wouldn’t have to think about how different the two of us feel, how he worships me and adores me and misses me when I’m not there, and I know he does, and I know I don’t feel that. I close my eyes so hard because I know there’s not enough romance between us to stop the world, to ever make me cry. But he’s oblivious about my indifference, because he’s so close and he thinks my unfortunate expression is just crazy pleasure that aches, and yes! he’s the one doing that, what all men should do to the woman they want to make happy forever.
He wants me to turn over. I do. And as he devours me in places unknown to me, in an exchange of spit and burning and moaning, I could feel myself evaporating. I could feel my education erasing from my mind. My manners screaming, “Fuck! Fuck you! Fuck me!” My poetry, my words, my sophistication and honesty morphing into a metaphor of wet underwear, an advertisement, a flighty brunette whore. I felt guilty that my body reacted. I thought I was literature. I am literature, my God,and convulse again. And then we embrace for a while because that’s what you’re supposed to do after doing that, especially after being with someone for longer than the shorts nights I knew so well. He holds my hair. I kiss his lips, his beard, his chest. And then he gives that slow half wink-blink thing he does, when it means he’s so happy and there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than right there forever with me. I turn over on my side, to suggest exhaustion, and cuddle myself while wondering what it must feel like for normal girls who want this. “What is it?” he asks. “Nothing,” I say. “It’s nothing. Never mind.”
Cynthia Bonitz lives in Brooklyn and is currently working on a memoir about studying in Prague and traveling Europe.