Fiction

A Variation Upon a Theme

Or

One and One Are Always Two, Except That Sometimes They Are One

The first thought his mind produced upon waking (and it was certainly influenced by the dream he had had and that, if he hadn’t already have had a morning erection, would have given him an erection) was, naturally, the thought of her. The second thought produced by his mind also related to her, and was a consequence of thought one-point-five (more of a realization than a thought) that brought the memory of her leaving on a trip to Italy with her parents, leaving him and Norman standing at the airport, waving like fools to a trio of happy faces. The second thought, then, was the thought of her beautiful neck (which she was oh-so-scared of having touched in any but the most gentle of ways) between his two hands, being squeezed tightly until expiration of life was induced into her marvelously sculpted body. The third thought: tough to tell. It was an amalgamation of two thoughts, to be frank (yes, you can still be Ana (this was (and still is) something that would most likely have made her laugh)), and it induced a slow movement of the right arm and hand down towards his erect penis, after which a slow stroking proceeded, a slow stroking which erased all the need, oh-so-present in him until a moment ago, the need to expel urine; urine which would most likely have been extremely yellow, on the account of the fact that he took in a very small amount of water every day. He seemed to take very little of what was necessary and much of what was completely and utterly un-so.

After about two and a half minutes of stroking his penis, he lost his erection: a sign that he really needed to pee and that it still was fairly hard to achieve an orgasm alone upon waking, especially without any help from visual material he often used to assist him in accomplishing, easily, effectively and with much pleasure, what he has set out to do. Then, of course, there were times when he didn’t need any visual stimulus, as the thought of her (what was it? – “marvelously sculpted body”) – yes, marvelously sculpted body gyrated in his mind. Well, it wasn’t so much the thought that gyrated, but the body itself. In his mind.

It was definitely time to get up.

So he did.

Pee. Brush teeth. Take off jammies, look at mirror. Weigh oneself. Decide that, finally, today is the day one shall stop eating as much and work on losing the extra five to seven pounds one has gained in the last few months. Look at mirror. Frown. Leave bathroom.

The day didn’t promise much. It was extremely hot and humid and the only other person in the house was his sister who must have been near getting what they call “the rag,” for she barked at him the moment he opened his mouth. Or at least it seemed so to him. The fact that he was forcing her to change the channel she was watching (“It was stupid, god damn it”) could have had something to do with her losing her temper. In any case, she could be a real bitch.

The nuisance was gone (he had a friend staying with him and in the last few weeks he started to see several things clearly: 1. he doesn’t like to have his room occupied by a woman he is not fucking; 2. he can’t stand to have that woman prefer one of his friends over him – despite the fact that he is completely and utterly not interested in this woman; 3. he is spoiled; 4. she is spoiled; 5. spoiled plus spoiled produces not good results; 5. grammatically incorrect sentences are funny; 6. he needs his privacy; 7. he is very willing to abuse power; 8. he doesn’t like to have his room occupied by a woman he is not fucking). The nuisance was gone; she was working this morning and he was happy that she was, although the fact that she was working meant that she was somewhat tied to where she was (his room) as she couldn’t just pick up and leave: she had an obligation towards the people she was working for, and she was making good money. The nuisance was short and curly-haired with a face that would allow one to see exactly what she would look like in fifty years or so: the same, but smaller and more wrinkly.

The day didn’t promise much. It was extremely hot and humid and the only other person in the house was his sister. He walked up from the basement in which he slept, worked and often masturbated, made toast, spread some margarine and jam on it (his diet consisted of 1. sandwiches, 2. milk, 3. bread, margarine and jam, 4. cereal, 5. chocolate and anything chocolaty he could get his hands on, 6. vitamins in pill-form), ate it, informed his sister that the program she was watching was stupid (it was) and that she should, hence, straight away change the channel she was watching. She told him to fuck off and go downstairs, into his basement (not technically his) where he belonged, and he got up and left without saying much (he did say something – muttering under his breath while walking away). He finished his bread and margarine and jam before he went downstairs.

The day didn’t promise much. After showering and brushing his teeth again (he had a constant need to make up for the fact that he wasn’t flossing: a fact he was honest about and which his dentist kept chiding him about), he went back to his bed, after making it up of course, laid down and read. Well, he started reading and about five minutes after starting to, he realized that the novel he just recently finished (about a Hungarian man refusing to live) was extremely good. That, of course, set him off thinking about refusing to live, and accepting life and all the little nuisances that come along with it (a small person in pink pants and a face that promised not to change much in the next fifty years came to mind) and “yes, yes” he started repeating, as a chant to the gods he was inventing at that moment. “Yes, yes, yes” he started repeating quietly, “yes, yes” – “turning away shall be my only negation” – where had he read this? – of course, it was Nietzsche – “yes, yes;” amor fati; “yes, yes.” Suddenly he realized that his hand was once again in his pants stroking his penis, already erect, so he got up from his bed, flipped on the computer, waited for it to boot up (losing his erection), connected himself to the most democratic of all media, and stroked away until, five minutes later, with her name on his lips and her marvelously sculpted body in his mind, he came with a slight groan into a wad of tissue paper, cleaned himself, discarded the tissue and went back to his bed.

Yes.

Yes. Yes.

Ana.

Ana.

Ana.

(A slight groan, a splash of white, tissue, zip up, back to bed).

Accept everything. Say yes to everything. Is it possible? I really love her. I miss her so goddamn much, and it’s only been a few days since she left. Stupid airports; stupid planes. Stupid old people. I really do love her. I guess I am sort of glad she left because it makes me see that the problem was never she. I love her. It was all in my mind. The hesitation, the questioning, the lack of certainty. Not that I really want to be certain. Certain enough, I suppose.

The problem isn’t that I love her. Or that I am in love with her. The problem is that I am not in love with my mother. It’s funny how different kinds of love seep into one another, to a point where one stops being able to clearly differentiate them. A few years ago, I was lying with my niece on a couch (she was a year and a half old) and she looked at me and I felt so much love and tenderness that it confused me for a second. I’ve only known her for a few weeks (I was visiting back home), and I felt an emotion I used to feel towards my lover, lying in bed, naked, looking into her eyes after an evening of lovemaking.

The problem isn’t that I love her. The problem is that I am not in love with my mother. The last few months have been difficult. Trudging around the house, I would most often find my way back into the basement where I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone. All the arguments. Too much. I couldn’t handle it. My temper. What one says, heated by the argument is too easily taken the wrong way. An attack on an idea is too often (especially by her) confused for an attack on the person. Crying and silence ensue. And I take to my basement.

But one should say yes to these glitches, to these nuisances. Accept them when possible and not shirk away. Or should turning away be my only negation? Of course, one cannot escape saying “yes” to saying “no.” That, of course, is also an integral component of acceptance. And where does that leave me? – I am not quite sure. But “yes” should be the governing principle, no? In any case, the point is that “yes” must be the governing principle. Except when a “no” is in order. One shouldn’t say “no” to life, though. That much I am certain of. That, of course, leads us to consider what the integral components of life are, and which are unnecessary. Porn is definitely necessary. And so are books. Women? One must learn to make them necessary, I suppose. Or is it that one must accepts them as necessary? I suppose, in my case, it’s both.

The day didn’t promise much. He was alone in his basement, with a book in his hands, lying on his bed, reading.

She was gone. That much he was certain of. She will be back, of course. It’s only a matter of three weeks or so and he could handle that, especially since he has things to keep himself busy: school work (almost done); and there’s the weeklong trip he is to take with his friends: all boys, a week in a tropical paradise. Nothing too exciting is to be expected, but a week of laziness, sun and general amusement is nothing to scoff at. Food, drink, sun: the value of idleness should never be underestimated.

He missed her. That much was clear to him. He loved her. Yet he was always afraid that he is going to fall into a trap, a societal trap of normalcy and average living. It was extremely difficult for him to tell what he truly wanted and what others wanted him to want: what had the potential to be original and creative, and what was barren and unfruitful. He would simply refuse to live according to the norm. But one must say “yes.” One must say “yes,” and still create. Accept the old. Accept the old – but make something new out of it.

******

I awoke, as after a night of heavy drinking, with a headache and thirsty. My hands were dry, as was my mouth. I haven’t been drinking. She was next to me, looking beautiful as ever: her marvelously sculpted body was uncovered and she was naked. I put my hand over her breast and placed my head gently on her stomach. She awoke.

“Good morning,” she said after a suppressed yawn and with a hand over her mouth.

She always had a fear of her morning breath. Of allowing others to breathe it. I loved it. I bathed in it. The remnants of garlic, which she ate daily, would flow on the air and it was a pleasure to inhale them. The sweet scent of her digestive tract.

She put her hand on my back and I winced.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot,” she said, and I smiled playfully.

We had had an interesting night. My back was raw and sore, my anus tender, and her buttocks were red, purple in places. I touched them and she, flinching slightly, smiled and kissed my mouth. It took years for me to get her to kiss me in the morning before brushing her teeth. Even now, she would do it only on special occasions, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The taste of her tongue was divine. But my mouth was dry and the kiss was only half successful. We laughed and I reached for a cup of water next to our bed and gulped thirstily. I belched, scratched my crotch and quickly put my fingers under her nose. She hated this and expected it. Immediately upon noticing my hand going into my pajama bottoms, she would prepare her body for evasive action. I was rarely successful in making her inhale my smell in this way. She, of course, enjoyed it thoroughly in different moments.

We have been together for quite a while. In a sense, one can say, we’ve had a typical relationship. We met, courted (extremely briefly), kissed, had sex, fell in love, broke up and stayed together, fought, made up, had sex, fell in love, fell in love, kissed, ignored each other, stayed together. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

I met her in extremely embarrassing circumstances. I was sleeping with her roommate at the time, and she walked in on us having sex. We were in a straight-forward missionary position, candles all around the room, and she walked in wearing a red top and a black skirt (to this day, she claims that the top is and has always been orange. This of course is untrue. The top is and always has been clearly red). Her hair was in a ponytail, brown with light streaks. She had her watch on (the watch her grandfather gave her and that looked like it was a hundred years old), her nails and toenails painted orange. She walked in, looked at us, smiled, blushed, and walked out without any of the three of us saying a word. Her roommate and I continued fucking. I came, and after five minutes of silence put on my clothes and left, saying that I had an exam the next day (which I did). Upon leaving, I met her in the hall outside of the room. We smiled at each other, embarrassed; laughed; said hello to each other; went to get coffee (I don’t drink coffee, so I had tea: chai tea latte, to be exact), and spent the whole night talking. I made it to my exam fifteen minutes late the next day, and aced it.

We started seeing each other the following week. Her roommate was and still is an extremely cool and understanding person.

The memory of her walking in on me and her roommate often interrupts my normal daily preoccupations.

“Had a good night’s sleep?”

“Yes. Oh yes,” I responded. “I always sleep like my throat’s been cut after a night like the last.”

She chuckled and bit into my shoulder. I hugged her and we stayed in bed for another half an hour, before getting up and leaving the house: she to work, and I to school. I am thirty and still at school. I’ve only left school twice, each time for a year, since I was seven. I spent one year living in France with her, traveling around Europe (using Lyons more as a home base than a home, spending just enough time there to work and make enough money to get me by); and I spent a year trying to get a job in publishing (unsuccessfully), which turned into a year spent bumming around the house: reading and trying to write something half decent. At the time I took this, my first, break (I was twenty four and had just finished my Master’s in Literature) I had an ambitious idea for a novel I was to start writing in the year off school. It was going to be composed of several storylines to be eventually connected through both metaphor and imagery and through the development of the plot, which was going to be (but of course) non-linear and fragmented. It was going to revolve around Marshall Josip Broz Tito, the president (some would say dictator) of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia from nineteen forty-five until nineteen eighty, and General Efrain Rios Montt, a Guatemalan dictator. At one point in the novel, Tito was going to disappear and find himself transformed into Rios Montt, and through the juxtaposition of the two dictators I was going to explore the nature of freedom and authoritarianism. Their story was going to be occasionally interrupted by stories of activist youths growing up in San Francisco and a young man growing up in Toronto. The stories were going to (somehow) mesh together around the issue and geographical position of the American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I did some research and wrote some preliminary notes. The project is still on the shelf, and will remain so indefinitely, it seems.

Sitting on the bus on my way to the university I was feeling my back smart, and thinking of the essay I had to write (it was to be a thirty page masturbation on the idea of “becoming” and its presence in the work of D. H. Lawrence), playing with the ring on my finger. Ana gave me that ring, as a joke, after I refused to marry her. It was inscribed twice. The first inscription was erased, and the second one now stands proudly on it. “Fuck You,” it says. It makes me want to chuckle – but I have always been afraid of chuckling on the bus or, more generally, in public. Afraid of what people may think.

She proposed on April first. We were having sex in the bathroom of my parents’ house (we were visiting my parents, and they had stepped out to buy something – I don’t remember what), and just as I was about to come, she asked me – extremely nonchalantly – whether I was interested in marrying her. I, of course, tried to ignore her, but she moved (extremely willfully, I might add) and my cock slipped out. Unwilling to miss out on an orgasm, especially after she had had hers (she would most often come first) I continued stroking myself, while she was watching me angrily.

“I asked you a fucking question, jerkwad,” she yelled.

“Hold on,” I groaned, “I’m almost there. Get down, open your mouth.”

“Fuck you,” she yelled out and grabbing my arm made me stop stroking myself. “I asked you a serious question. Stop that.”

I laughed and tried to squeeze her breast, but she refused to let me.

“Come on, I am serious.”

I stopped (seconds away from an orgasm), zipped up my pants, washed my hands and fixed my hair. She was looking at me.

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to marry.”

“Fine,” she said, storming out of the bathroom.

I followed her out, down the stairs and into the living room. We sat there, waiting for my parents and sipping our wine (I clearly remember drinking red wine, but whenever we talk about this, she claims that it was white wine we were drinking. It was red.) My parents came back and we spent a strange evening sitting with them, talking about trivialities, eating some kind of pasta, both of us angry at each other: she, because I refused her, and I because she wouldn’t let me have my orgasm.

The bus turned into a subway stop and I got off with the hardest erection I had had in days.

We never got married. We are still not married. We live as if we were. Well, to be completely honest, we are married – sort of. We had a small, private, unofficial ceremony on the bridge in Mostar. A friend read out a speech we wrote for him (a variation on the classic wedding thing priests read in a church ceremony) and both Ana and I said our resounding “Yes” in front of a group of people that consisted of our parents, my sister, and a few of our closest friends. Ana’s ex-roommate was one of the guests. Still looking extremely attractive.

The school day didn’t promise much. It was extremely cold, and the only person I met while doing research was a guy named Sam, whom I cannot stand. We spoke for a while and I continued with my work. Meeting only this one person meant that I had to actually do work all day, without spending time on chatting with people I hadn’t seen in a few days or weeks. In any case, I got some work done. She was constantly on my mind – as she always is. Well, not always. Sometimes I can’t stand thinking about her. I go through periods when I simply cannot stand being around her. I can’t talk to her, I can’t look at her; I can’t even stand her morning breath. We are open about this and I tell her when that time comes around. She does the same.

It so happened that we were experiencing this “rough patch” once at the same time (usually, one of us can’t stand to be around the other, while the other has nothing but the deepest love for the one – this can be extremely painful), but once or twice we have experienced our loathing for one another at the same time. Upon communicating this to one another, we decided (the first time this happened) that it would be interesting to go away for a week, rent a tiny cottage somewhere far, far away, with no one around for miles, and spend the entire seven days with each other in a tiny room in a cottage in the middle of a forest. It proved to be an interesting experience.

First of all, there was absolutely no sex.

We sat around for the first few days without saying a word to each other. There was a lot of muttering, a lot of swearing under one’s breath. Mean looks and quite a lot of ignoring. She’d go to walk around the woods and I’d stay inside, hoping she’d get eaten by a bear. She always came back – never even came across a bear track. Stupid bears.

By the third or fourth day, though, the things started to get calmer, and we were even speaking at dinner.

“So…” I’d start awkwardly, not knowing quite how to begin.

“Uh huh.”

“Nice tits,” I’d tease and she’d fling something at me – a fork or a spoon (never a knife) – and we’d smile and know that we’re okay. The risk of physical violence would then become negligible, and we could both breathe a sigh of relief.

The first ever time we got into a fight (of the physical variety – with the punching and the scratching) was well into our relationship and it consisted more of attempts on behalf of her to dig her nails into my face while I defended it, than of attempts of either of us to punch each other. That’s not to say that there was absolutely no punching. But these were light punches – the kind that ten year olds use. I have a feeling that the only reason she was so persistent when it comes to the fighting is that she simply knew that I was stronger than her and that I wouldn’t let her hurt me. Also, I am sure that if things ever got serious, she’d stop. In a sense, our fights remind me more of Birkin and Critch wrestling naked on the floor than of two people seriously trying to injure each other. A certain level of eroticism and comradeship has always been present in our physical tussles.

I found her at home when I got back from the university: she had a short shift that day and was already making dinner when I got home. Her dinners were a legacy of her family life, with fish at least once a week. We took turns cooking, so that I had a chance to represent my family traditions: meat and potatoes, barbecue, moussaka, fried eggplant and a different variety of soups which had to be present at almost every dinner. Her meals on the other hand were more exotic – and probably more health-conscious. Starting with fish and different kind of sea-creatures prepared in a variety of interesting sauces (most garlic-based) to different kind of Far East inspired dishes, with curry, some with peanut-sauce, and other things I never imagined possible. (One day she served chicken with chocolate and I almost threw her out of the house. I am used to that dish now). I spent half of my life eating sandwiches and taking vitamin pills, so that (despite staying away from fast food almost religiously) health-consciousness never gripped me the way it did her.

“So? Anything interesting to report?” I asked.

“Well, work was normal. Nothing out of the ordinary happened,” she smiled teasingly.

She was hiding something.

“Come on, don’t lie you scallywag.”

“What? Nothing. I swear.”

“Ana, damn it – spit it out.”

She took a second looking at me and smiling with her monstrous eyes.

“Well, you remember I told you about Johnny? The young, handsome doctor who just started working with us?”

“Right,” I said, rage rising from the recesses of my being at the teasingly cliché use of the word “handsome.” This man has obviously been hitting on Ana for weeks and sometimes in front of me. He asked her out already once and she told me. I threw a hissy-fit and broke an expensive vase she inherited from her grandparents.

“Well, he sort of cornered me in his office today.”

“Uh huh.”

Silence.

I was looking at her, trying to burrow a hole in the back of her head with my eyes.

More silence.

“Well? Are you gonna tell me or what?”

She was more serious now.

“Nothing. That’s it.”

“Don’t lie to me, for crying out loud. No need to be a bitch about it.”

“Don’t call me a bitch.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t fucking lie to me! Fuck!” I yelled.

She said nothing, looking at me, regretting she started. But there was no stopping now: she could either tell me the rest of the story and I would throw a (yes, a) hissy-fit, or she could refuse to tell the rest of the story and I would do the same: yelling, swearing and refusing to speak to her for a few days. She smiled weakly.

“Nothing, seriously. Forget about it.”

“Ok,” I started calmly. “It’s very simple: if you do not finish the story you were just telling me I will get up from this chair and stick a fork in your neck. Then I will slowly proceed to twist it while the fork is still in you and will not stop until I have made a hole big enough for me to stick three of my fingers in it comfortably.”

“Fuck off,” she sneered. She was extremely afraid of anything happening to her neck, so I knew that I was making a good move, threatening the safety of it.

“Tell me.”

“Fine. He tried to kiss me.”

For some reason, that sentence calmed me down.

“Tried?”

“He kissed me.”

I was getting turned on.

“And you?”

“I slapped him.”

I was even more turned on. At the same time I was prepared to murder Johnny.

I got up from the table, put on my running shoes and jacket, got into our car and drove to the hospital where she worked and where Johnny still was.

When I got back, she was crying. Her face and eyes were extremely red. She always gets like this (red) when she is crying. Her eyes stay red for hours after the crying has stopped. She was sitting on the floor in our bedroom (we only had two rooms in our place), hugging her knees and crying.

“Couldn’t you have picked a less cliché position to cry in?” I asked.

She said nothing.

“Listen, just forget about it. It’s no big deal. Take it easy. I love you.”

“Do you?” she asked, a slight smile already appearing at the corner of her lips.

“Shut up. You know I do.”

I sat next to her and we said nothing to each other for the next few minutes. Then she put her hands around me and lay across my lap. I stroked her hair. Her eyes were red and puffy; she was wiping her snot with the sleeve of her shirt. I kissed her and we went back to finish our dinner.

We didn’t speak much during dinner. The stereo was on and we were listening to a song that reminded me of being alone. I haven’t been alone for a significant period of time for a year or so.

When the time has come for you

To pick up your things and go, my love,

Don’t turn away, don’t turn away –

But perish without trace.

The song droned on. Whose CD was this? Mine or hers? I am not sure. We put all our discs together once we moved in together, but I secretly wrote random words on the inside of my discs, all starting with the letter “p.”

“Pandora” was one of them. “Pickle” was another, and “pussy” was yet another. I admitted this a few months later. She laughed and admitted that she did the same – choosing words that began with a “b.” “Bordello” was one of them. “Banshie” was another, and “bitch” was yet another. We did the same with our books. I used the letter “z” and she the letter “a.” Neither one of use did this to our movies, dishes, or furniture.

It’s hard, sometimes: being together for a long time. This is why, every once in a while, one of us picks up and goes away. I stay with a friend for a few weeks, and sometimes she does the same. Or we stay with our parents, or I crash with my sister (she is the only child). Those are restful days. I rarely think of her (she’s informed me that she rarely thinks of me in those moments, too), but after a few days, sometimes two or three weeks, we start missing each other incredibly (well, I start missing her; she tells me it’s the same with her). At that point, we pick up our stuff and get back to our apartment. We make love the whole day when we are back – not always, but fairly often. Problems arise when I want to leave because I am sick of her, and she wants me to stay because she is nowhere near sick of me, or vice versa. After having a fight or two about this, we agreed that the one who wants to leave should leave without worrying what the other one feels. It’s worked almost perfectly. Well, it’s worked well enough.

***

I awake, and he is lying next to me. Looking at me, his hand on my breast. He often does this – I don’t know if he got it from that movie we watched with Audrey Tautou or not, but it started happening soon after we have seen it.

“Good morning,” I say and he smiles, waiting for me to cover my mouth. So I do. “Good morning,” he responds.

We had a late night last night, and you can see it on his face, probably on mine too – dark circles around the eyes, pale skin. He wants to kiss me, and I let him – it took me a while to get used to his insistence on a morning kiss, but I am used to it now; like something out of a Mailer novel, he insists on celebrating the ugly side of love just as much as the beautiful one, and this practice works like a double-edged sword: sometimes it brings us closer and I am happy to celebrate it with him, to celebrate this multifacetedness of love, this sweeping, all-embracing spirit which consumes us at times; beautiful times, orgasmic in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Then again, at other times, it leads to bitter rivalry and conflict, we spend days digesting the lengths to which the other will go or not go in the expression of love and sometimes it seems tiresome, troubling. It never kills the relationship, but it has come close many times.

His body is naked next to mine and patches of irritation, redness are visible: eczema: on his neck, behind his knees and on his arms, on his hips which are extremely feminine. His whole body, in a sense, has an aura of femininity that both draws me to him and repels me. His breath is tangy; we ate garlic yesterday and it is noticeable, but I don’t mind it – it is me, after all, who insists on putting garlic into everything and it’s only fair that I suffer the morning consequences of this healthy eating habit.

He squeezes my breast and kisses me on the lips, but his mouth is dry and he gives up, reaching for a glass of water and sipping out of it slowly, mulling the water around in his mouth, killing the dryness. He kisses me again, squirting some water from his mouth into mine. I laugh and we just lie there, waiting for the absolute last moment before we have to get up and go our separate ways: he to school and I to work. Sometimes I think he will stay in school until he dies. Not that I mind it too much, but it’s strange, him refusing so much to attend to what he calls “the real world.” I look at him and smile, thinking that I can’t believe that I am here, with him: it seemed such a long shot at the beginning, but here we are, together and in love and lying next to each other, his hand on my breast, the other under his head. He turns me over and hugs me from behind, spooning my body into his. I accept all the warmth his body gives off, I hope he will swallow me whole, absorb me completely in the most literal physical sense. He has already shown me a different world: like Alice I stepped through the looking glass into the world which often makes little sense, but which is always exciting and often extremely tiresome and infuriating. I know I’ve done the same for him, although I see him as more of a Pinocchio figure: he’s only become a real boy after he has met me; until then he was nothing but a little wooden puppet, with donkey ears and a donkey tail, playing a bad boy unsuccessfully, waiting to be swallowed by a whale. I know, I’m mixing the story up, but it’s only for convenience’s sake.

We met on a strange night. He was seeing my roommate at the time – seeing in a very leisurely, open-ended manner – and one night, as he was leaving our room, I bumped into him. We had met a few times before, but had never had a serious conversation or interaction. He smelled like sweat and I stepped back as he was trying to get out of the room and I was trying to get in. He said hello and proceeded to walk away, but a moment later, he turned around and asked me if I wanted to get “a cup of coffee or something,” which offer I accepted. We got coffee and spoke, among other things, about technology. He saw me once walking at school with my laptop and I had felt foolish about carrying it around with me. So when he said hello I giggled nervously, went on ramblingly about how I feel foolish about carrying around a laptop, explaining that I really needed it for a project I was working on and that I get really annoyed when I see people carrying them around unnecessarily, essentially showing off, then I made up a reason I had to go and ran off. I can imagine him standing there, looking bedazzled and confused after me running away awkwardly with a big bag on my back and a smaller one over my shoulder with a laptop in it, a laptop I needed to get a project done. It was due that very day.

When we went for coffee the night I bumped into him in front of my room, I explained the whole thing to him again, laughing nervously, and he laughed with me and made me feel comfortable about my little tic. We started talking about technology and I told him how unnecessary a lot if it was. He defended it like his mother invented the concept and applied it in the real world. I insisted on its role in slowly ruining our world, he got upset and walked off, telling me that I am a close-minded individual who should be forced to live isolated on an island without any electricity to which I said that that’d be something I’d be extremely interested in. He called the next day and we spoke for an hour. We started seeing each other regularly soon after that.

I was myself involved when we met; involved with a boy my friends and I liked to call le petit garçon de fromage. I was actually seeing both of them for a little while, but it soon became clear what the right step to take was. Out went the old cheese, and in came the new. I told him about it several months later. He huffed and puffed, but luckily he did not blow the house down. He still likes to tease me about it, calling me his little mouse: “on account of you liking cheese,” he is always eager to point out. I laugh and he laughs but sometimes, for some mysterious reason, I would like to bash his head in when he blurts this out smugly and facetiously.

Once or twice I almost did bash his head in. After one night out with our friends we came home: he silent, and I extremely annoyed. Sometimes, what he likes to do when we go out with a bunch of people is retreat into a corner and sulk, thinking how little attention he is getting. He would find a seat at the end of the table we are sitting at, most distant from everyone and sit quietly looking glum and sipping his drink. He admits it himself: “I am sorry, but sometimes (as you know),” he would say, eternally interrupting his sentences with smaller sentences, almost as if bracketing smaller thoughts within larger ones, “I am sorry, but sometimes (as you very well know) I am dying for attention and if you are not willing to provide it, I need to retreat so that I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself.” I could kill him at these moments. “It’s better for everyone if I just sit quietly than if I were to sulk loudly and attract attention to myself,” he would say. Once I threw an ashtray, which we own for I know not what reason since neither of us smokes, at his head and it almost hit him. He ducked and instead of his head, I broke an old television set we owned. We bought a new one after that.

Of course, I am fully aware of his thirst for attention; I am actually not much different myself, but I am much more successful in navigating our personal relationship within the larger context of our relationship with our friends. He often seems hopelessly stuck in our relationship, without being able to successfully integrate it into the other one. Which is sweet, I suppose – but it can drive me insane.

I am not complaining, mind you: he is infinitely – well, maybe not infinitely, but definitely sufficiently – patient when it comes to me and my relationship with my parents. Which, I suppose, makes up for the extreme irrationality he can often display. I don’t know, maybe it is his irrationality I am so attracted to. I sometimes remind myself of Geoff Dyer’s description of himself in that book he wrote on D. H. Lawrence.

He can be wonderful. He is wonderful. Not Geoff Dyer, but him. He reaches around me with both his arms and squeezes me against him. Our naked bodies melt into one. I don’t want to have to get up and go to work. I want to spend hours lying like this, our bodies masterfully welded to one another. His hands on my breasts, his lips on my neck. I get goosebumps and he runs his finger over them. He kisses my arm and drags his lips across it to my shoulder and down my chest, across my belly. He tries to eat me, but I will not let him. It’s getting close to our time to get up and go our separate ways: he to school, I to work.

On the way to work I sit on the bus listening to music. My mind is blank but the thought of his body flitters in the background, in the atmosphere of my mind. His blue eyes, his sometimes-unshaved face and longish hair. His feminine hips. His beautiful ass. The song is playing and the lyrics, to which I often pay no attention, make my mind wander and settle on a memory of the two of us, in a large field of corn.

Oh wonderful memory of flat landscapes and sea,

Of grass and corn that stretch for miles and miles

My body light and wondering the skies

With you by my side over changing tides.

When we were living in France, we spent a few weeks with a friend of his in the area of Touraine. We stayed in a little house outside of the village of Descartes, where the famous philosopher was born. The area was beautifully flat. Very unlike the area in Jugoslavija where I was born, which is mountainous; but nevertheless, there was something in the flatness of terrain in Touraine which infinitely charmed me. One day, as the sun was setting he borrowed a pair of bikes, grabbed a blanket and a bottle of red wine: “Let’s go,” he yelled excitedly. “Come on you jerkwad, I ain’t got all day. Climb on and pedal like you’ve never pedaled before.”

We rode our bikes for about twenty minutes, along flat winding roads among fields of corn. There was no one around and the sun was setting behind us. We stopped next to a random cornfield, locked our bikes one to another and walked into the field. After about five minutes of walking through tall and green cornstalks, he told me to stop, and then he ran around, breaking and flattening the cornstalks, clearing them out, making a little space for us to spread the blanket. We then sat down on our blanket, sipping our wine and watching the stars, which were beautiful and amounted to what seemed like billions of beautiful shiny dots in the sky. We then took all our clothes off and made love several times. We spent several hours in the middle of a giant cornfield, drinking wine, watching the stars and making love.

The bus hits a pothole and brings me back to reality. My stop is coming up. I get off and realize that my panties are completely soaked.

I arrive to work five minutes late and get right down to business. I’ve been working on a single project for months now and there always seems to be something that is preventing me from completing it. The new doctor for whom I am presently working and whom my coworkers teasingly call Johnny on account of my “fondness” for Johnny Depp – the new doctor has been on my case for the last few weeks urging me to complete the project as soon as possible. At around two-thirty he calls me down to his office and asks me to sit down. His chair, on one side of the desk, is humongous; the one I am sitting on is a simple wooden one; he is, hence, towering above me, intimidatingly, I might add.

“So, how’s the project coming along?” he asks.

“As I told you yesterday, it’s nearing completion. Jeez, do you ever pay attention to what I am telling you? It’s only got a couple of glitches I need to address before it’s done. Trust me, you’ll be the first on to know as soon as it is done.”

“You know very well that I pay attention to everything you say, Ana,” he says smilingly, and I smile back.

We’ve had this innocent flirtation going for a while, but, both of us being in serious relationships, we are fully aware of its limits. We’ve kept it, as they say, strictly professional.

“Here’s that book I promised you,” he adds casually, “I’m sure you’ll like it. Dan Brown is one of my favourite authors and the new one is even better than the previous ones.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a try,” I answer apprehensively, thinking of all the rants I’ve listened to against Dan Brown. He read the very first one and absolutely hated it, but Johnny has been raving about this new one, so I promised to give it a try. I am sure I’ll get an earful of mockery once I get home and open it. I accept the book and start to leave.

“Oh, I also wanted to ask you if you wanted to go grab a cup of coffee after work,” Johnny blurts out as I am getting up and starting for the door. He moves around the table and approaches me.

Stepping back, I smile. He reaches and grabs me around my waist, lunging towards my face and grazing my lips with his. Like being hit with a million pinpricks: my lips and body recoil and I hit my back against the door. He comes forward again, smiling apologetically, stammering.

“I… I am sorry: I don’t know what came over me,” he says.

“I never want this to happen again,” I say angrily. “I don’t know what gave you the idea that this is alright, but it is not.”

Maybe it’s my fault, I have flirted.

I turn around and walk out of the office. I leave work early.

On the bus, on the way home, I mull over all the fights we’ve had over the years. Physical ones, too. He’s never hit me and I’ve never really hit him, but there have been attempts from both sides. An odd feeling in my stomach jerks me out of my reverie and I notice that my stop is near. I ring the bus bell, get off and walk home, thinking what I’ll make for dinner – it’s my turn today. The thought of him coming home and kissing me calms me down. Unlocking the door of our apartment, I step in and feel the aura he has left behind. I step into it, forgetting what has happened. The smells of his body awash my body and closing my eyes, I lie on the floor, bathing in the atmosphere of our love. Soon, I’ll have to get up and start dinner. But not just yet. I’ve got a couple of minutes to myself, a couple of minutes that are mine and that I will willingly hand over to the thoughts of him.

***

We awake at four-thirty in the morning. The pains have started. The baby is coming (we have prepared for this day, things will be alright). The suitcase is ready, we phone our doctor and rush to the hospital. Everything goes as planned and we arrive as the labours are intensifying. We are led into the delivery room and we lie down, one experiencing all the physical, the other all the mental anguish. The baby is coming. It is March twenty-first, Vernal Equinox: even a fool would recognize the symbolic significance of this day. We argue over whether we should have a natural birth or whether we should be “pumped full of drugs.” The cooler heads prevail and we make the right choice. Our baby will be healthy, our baby will be happy, our baby will be. It will become. If it’s a boy we’ll name it Ezra, if it’s a girl we’ll name it Anaïs. Something new is here. Again.

******

The day was nearing its end. The first thought his mind produced upon waking (and it was certainly influenced by the dream he had) was, naturally, the thought of her. The second thought produced by his mind also related to her, and was a consequence of thought one-point-five (more of a realization than a thought) that brought the memory of her leaving on a trip to Italy with her parents, leaving him and Norman standing at the airport, waving like fools to a trio of happy faces. The second thought, then, was the thought of her beautiful neck (which she was oh-so-scared of having touched in any but the most gentle of ways) between his two hands, being squeezed tightly until expiration of life was induced into her marvelously sculpted body. The third thought: tough to tell. The day delivered more than it promised. A wonderful thought, at the very least. And after all, she would be back soon. He wished that it was sooner, but you can’t always get what you want. He’ll spend the day torturing himself with a Dan Brown novel (“I started it, and god damn it! I will finish it”). But that is alright, nothing is ever wasted. He knows he must say “yes,” and say “yes” to “no” at all cost and the only thing that he must figure out now is what it is that these things need to be said to, when and how. He thinks of a Persian rug and thinks that, indeed, life is like one. So he will say yes to the beautiful patterns that will be created – some by him, some by her, some by others. “I am a rhizome!” he thinks. He thinks of her earthy body, her marvelously sculpted body (“Oh, if she were only here!”). He holds on tightly to the picture of her body in his mind, and reaching into his pants he strokes himself until he orgasms. “Nothing is wasted,” he thinks, wiping the cum off of his blanket. “Nothing is wasted.”

Advertisements
  1. Pin
    September 3, 2006 at 17:15

    I like this piece, but the first perspective was enough. The second wasn’t necessary and sounded like you wrote it because she adored you.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: