THE MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON IS THE ONE YOU DON'T HAVE
I can never be naked unless someone is watching. My lover groans—I toss the blanket over him. Somewhere on the bed, his clothes are folded.
More wine is poured. It runs down my chin and settles on my left—I can’t remember which is his favorite—breast until I forget why I am laughing. I think he is laughing too, until I remember, after the glasses are drained, that he has me standing on my head.
Forgive the mess. I am not very good at cleaning up my own.
The water—hot so I know it is clean—crowds the tub. A foot floats up between my legs. I cannot—to my embarrassment—be sure who owns it. The soap bubbles leave me bearded, “will you still love me if I refuse to shave?” Everything sounds better under water. He has a perfect frown.
“You need to train her,” he says to his brother—their parents were allergic to mammals. I used to walk around in my mother’s heels while quoting blonde starlets.
I accidentally, he doesn’t believe it, forget my robe when I walk downstairs, reciting gestures I learned as a child—a real crowd pleaser. I roll on the shag rug. His eyes roll in that way which says, “you’re beautiful.”
He is, after all, committed.
I am, above all, occupied.
He stands, very tall, very long, very quietly, up along the wall. He picks at country wallpaper. He laughs when I walk. My hips only move the way they do to keep balance.
Grounds, filters, and other disposable things
In hindsight, this could have been avoided. Isn’t that always the case? When I come to my senses, I decide, against common instinct, not to ask so many questions. Things left unanswered pile up—I start asking again.
Coffee is unarming. “It is simply the friendliest,” I say.
The first one, he doesn’t mind, after five months pass, starting over. He sucks his teeth clean—I quickly close the book. “Let’s do this again,” I say. After another five months, I mean.
The second is tricky, shielded. There is more hair than before—everywhere. He undresses quickly. He lies quicker. The car seat, covered in crayon and spit up, is only temporarily vacant. I move on.
The third, he comes to me—naked ring finger brushes against my thigh. I bite my lip. We go somewhere warm. I will ask myself why I still cling to resentment towards him. He grabs my ass—thanks me for the fuck. I clean out my phone’s contact list.
The fourth will be the last. He adjusts a crooked photo on the wall. I always forget to take off my shoes. Just change this one, little thing. How about that, little thing? No? Maybe, or maybe, just maybe.
I admit I lost the assembly manual. There will always be coffee.
The fifth is alive—thriving—inside my mind. He leaves them where they lay—yesterday’s costumes—on the floor around my hamper. I throw out my straightening iron. His walls are off white.
We drink tea.
A LESSON IN SELF-DEFENSE
After my sister brought it home, the conversation narrowed. Her husband never talked about it. It was dense, buried and growing. It wasn’t big. It was dangerous.
The surgeon was an artist. He was born breastless. My words—getting lost—spilled from my eyes.
She seemed, after time passed, pleasant. We went shopping; I bought a scarf—her colors—and wrapped her in it. She bought herself an eyebrow pencil. Neither of us knew what to do with it.
Dinner was dry and bland. I passed my sister the salt. Poison does strange things to the body.
Eventually, it was gone! Eventually, it never was! Of course it was, but people, they tend to leave things like that behind. No one ever saw it up close. It would be nice to lie to myself—I lack that specific whimsy.
I knew before she told me. I was the first person she told, besides her husband—which was custom—out of duty. Our mother cried on the phone. She was an ugly crier over a beautiful thing.
The whole time, my sister’s body had been eating for three. Just for perspective I mentioned a simple cause and effect scenario. There was a lot of yelling.
I bought another scarf.
I dropped parasite from my vocabulary.
Before I visited I washed my hands. It was important to remove any contaminants—they were very affectionate and loved to get around. The pink, fuzzy, selfish thing was handed to me—without warning. Instantly, I loved it more than reason would allow.
My cousin told me I would make a good mother. As a child, I never separated the doll heads from the doll bodies.
Then it started crying. Then once more. Then again. Again. Again. My sister lost my copy of The Exorcist.
It was wiggling, fussing, hissing, stomping its feet down, and thrusting its fists up—I looked up the definition of “precious” in the dictionary.
I said, “I don’t see what you have to complain about.”
It squirmed when I touched it. It was always wet. It was nonreturnable.
The same could not be said about the dangerous, buried thing inside my sister.