On the drive over, I came upon two dogs humping in the road. Their retinas reflected my headlights, refusing to move aside. The last time I’d driven to a man’s house for sex, I’d passed a dog that had gotten run over on the double yellow lines. So maybe this was a step in the right direction. Or at least that was slightly less dead.
Don’t be shy, he’d texted me, twenty minutes before. You may get a kiss at the door.
A kiss at the door, huh. Cue the release of adrenaline-laced butterflies, just south of the border.
He was from the Epocch of Suches – such a face, such a body – physical attributes that incite saliva and blood and elicit cell memory and blot out the decision-making sun. Those things had left such a fissure behind, dragging across the landscape like a melting glacier. The Epoch of Suches. Almost grown in now, filled in with shrubs and weeds, and soon: one black minivan.
I’d only seen him once before – supple lips and saturated forearms and silence, eyes shaded under a ballcap, all the trappings of the instinctive and careless, hot southern boy.
At the stoplight I checked the dials in my dashboard: all read-outs steady. The clock said 11:30. Meanwhile the ones on the inside were looping round and round, losing altitude. His texts had come in hot and heavy all afternoon, driving me to distraction, eventually driving me to his door, leaving every important task undone. Not just undone, completely invisible. Lust was like that, your very own internally manufactured nicotine and dopamine and ephedrine supply. My charged electrons were bumping into his, equally excited and equally opposed, unable to power anything.
In a few minutes he was going to undo everything, he was going to get up on the inside, I was going to touch whatever I wanted, orally fixate to my heart’s content, and in the process lose my groove, my composure, my self-respect, strewn out my open car window like paper as I politely excused myself down into the ditch.
Oh but it was all so new! And also, the same as always.
Most days weren’t like this. Most days, young men were a thing of the past. Most days consisted of plastic bags and car keys and my hair like an old scratchy blanket. The choking smell from the plastic factory nearby. The dead cement depot overhead, on the hilltop by the railroad tracks. The trains always heaving forward, always leaving, then coming right back. They were so identically plain that I completely forgot: I was young too.
It’s not that I didn’t notice men. Men outside the pawn shop awning, smoking and staring. Men laying concrete, men driving trucks, men loading equipment, men with their girlfriends at the store. I deflected eye contact; I only did doubletakes from behind the safety glass of my minivan.
“Almost there,” I texted.
Hmm, he replied, lighting up my screen. Can’t wait.
In his driveway, I stared long and hard at his pickup, an extension of his naked body. A porch light came on, casting a cold light. His unfamiliar form appeared in the opened screen door.
“I saw these dogs…in the road,” I mumbled, nonsensically, climbing the cement steps.
“Yeah,” his voice was so gravelly, like the air in his throat was dragged down a dirt road too. “I was worried it would be hard for you to find.”
The initial arrows of conversation had each missed their mark. There was no kiss. Inside, a mud room with an old washing machine.
“Hi,” I said finally, and cracked a joke about something, anything.
He said nothing.
“I’m keeping the light off, it’s a mess,” he said, and turned his back to lead me through a cold, pitch black room. I soaked him up from top to bottom, t-shirt, and a muscly, narrow ass in soft sweatpants. Sleeping clothes. Taller than before. His hand reached back for mine, to lead me through the dark. Startled by the gesture, I reached forward and took it, shockwaves rippling up my arm. All the prior digital sex, the robotic syntax and exposed pictures, all of it safe and non-tactile, nothing approximating a held hand. It immediately flooded my circuits. Everything I really wanted, previously on lockdown, was suddenly set loose in my system.
The darkness gave way to a tiny warm bedroom and a glowing space heater. Gray light from a murmuring TV flashed from an adjoining room. His sheets were pulled back, his phone near his pillow, waiting on my texts. And whoever else’s probably.
I froze, not knowing what to do. He maybe said something then, something obtuse and dumb, but all I heard was the gritty growl. My purse and my clothes, where to put them? Where to stand, what to do. I could barely see his face and body it was so dim, I needed more light to see. I slipped off my boots and sat on the edge of his bed as if it was the deep end. He sat next to me, and after one long awful awkward silent moment, there was one little kiss ,then another.
It felt like nothing at first, like kissing a wall. But only because of the delay while serotonin and dopamine dumped hard, polluting the bloodstream with fog and bliss. My god, it was so good to sweep pastthe boundaries of appropriate distance, erode the mile high walls with a fingertip. I slid back on the bed and watched him undress, the shadows hiding behind the ridges of his bare chest. He had a good body, but so what, big fucking deal. But I stared hard, memorizing.
I shed mine too, and slithered up on top of him, eye to eye, skin on skin, ready for the intake, the uptake, the all-consuming meld. He reached his fingertip and tucked back a loose strand of my hair. I froze, still as a mouse, letting him. What was that supposed to be, exactly? Tenderness? Some mutation therein? A bomb went barreling down to the core, burrowing below the magma. It registered a direct hit to my fortress, but I covered it up with my teeth, slipped it under my tongue, overrode it with purring, writhing hips.
He was getting it in now, and I was awash in the body buzz that comes from being roughed up, hollering out a year of pent up days. But all the sound and fury was predictable novelty really, stuff worthy of an omg in a forgettable email. But his fingertip on that lock of hair, imitating love. His hand holding mine, as if he cared — these tiny insignificant variables were the ones you had to watch out for. These were tricky.
And then it was over. Thirty minutes, maybe? Forty-five? Somehow, I had actually believed it would go on forever. Or at least an hour.
I laid with his arm under my neck, chest heaving, blood in my ears, breathing long and deep. I wanted to curl into the heat of his right flank, to cool into a pretty mess and light down on a placid lake of Twilight-grade togetherness. For a minute I skimmed this ridiculous yearning, gliding face to face above it, longing to rest fully on his sprawled body, and sleep. But my mouth was dry, so instead I swallowed. It was the loudest sound in the room. He stirred, and I lifted my head and sat up, looking around, wondering what to do. I did not belong here. I wanted to belong here. I was rendered into a statue, hovering slightly outside my body.
“You can stay if you want,” he said. And I grabbed with both hands at this chance to get my cool back.
I stood up beside the bed and began picking up my clothes, readying to leave, watching him watch me.
Only when I was fully dressed did he flick the bedside light. Strange. I could see his smile for the first time, white teeth in the warm yellow light. Stupid hot boy. An effortless checkmate. I kissed him at the door. He didn’t kiss back.
He never came back for more. I was so sure he would. I was so sure that my splendidly ecstatic nude form had created a disturbance in his force. But no, not even a smallish one. He’d finished the race while I tumbled off the track. It took a full week to get the outstretched hand out of my system, the feel of an actual arm under my neck, his mouth taking me down.
“I know him,” my hair dresser told me a few weeks later. I’d forgotten the cardinal rule of small towns: they are very fucking small. “Only wants one thing, okay. When he gets it, he’s gone.”
I guess I’d known that. But what about me being the exception. What about me being sexually exceptional. What about me and my sex-ceptional self.
“Trust me,” she said, reading my face. “It’s not just you. He did the same thing to me. And one of my friends.”
copyright © K. Dawn Goodwin 2016