She’d tried to tell him she was pregnant, but he never answered the phone.
There’s a high school party in the suburbs. He invites the two girls
over, and they sleep on the living room floor. One girl passes out,
the other just pretends to. He asks her if there’s room for two under
the blanket, and she says yes. They do it right there on the carpet,
not ten feet from where the other girl is snoring.
She’s hard, a mannish walk and too much mascara. She snaps her gum
when she chews, and her mouth is always open. She doesn’t smile. She
only has sex with the lights out or the blinds drawn. The third time
they fuck, she asks him if he’s done yet.
The blond worked at a franchise restaurant, the kind with the striped
polo uniforms and the pins on everything, the walls covered in framed
photos of dead celebrities. She left her boyfriend for a coworker, and
the two ran off to Vegas. He drank a lot and lost money at the track,
she served cocktails in a too short skirt. They split up and she moved
in with her parents.
This guy and this girl cheated on their respective partners. His
fiancé suspected, checked his phone records, then kicked him out. Told
his friends, sold his clothes, burned his shit. He couch-surfed for
two months before moving back home. His lover expected him to stick
around now that he was single. She cried when he left. Him? He
couldn’t have cared less.
The woman’s daughter was sleeping, so he turned on some music and they
did it on the bed, on top of the sheets. There was something about the
skin on her stomach that made him want to run to the bathroom and
vomit. The next morning he took her to breakfast, and they never saw
each other again.
They’d met at a shitty bar on Polk Street — Hemlock, the name of both
the bar and the alley that ran alongside the building. He hated
everyone. She came onto him like call girl; he ignored her all night.
She bought a round of shots, then another. She bought shots until he
couldn’t talk, then half-dragged him to a waiting cab, took him home
and fucked him. He woke up the next morning and didn’t even know her
He dumped her on the phone after a brief interstate romance, all made
possible through the miracle of social networking sites. “It’s the
distance,” he said, but we knew he was a coward.
Years before he’d dated her younger sister, been inside her more times
and more ways than he could count. Now, the older sister grinds
against his pelvis, swears at him, calls him motherfucker and bastard
as she climaxes. Life is weird, he thinks, and listens to the trains
pass in the night.
She dressed and acted like a school girl. He didn’t know whether she
was putting on an act or was a recipient of a partial lobotomy. She
giggled when they had sex. She’d keep him up till dawn, then demand to
be taken home.
The last girl he’d dated had committed suicide. It had turned him off
to the opposite sex, if only for a month. This new girl was engaging
and lively, and when she smiled his words tangled in his mouth like
the legs of a drunken marching band. On their third date, she told him
she was nineteen. He was ten years older. He fucked her until he found
someone his own age, sent her packing. She forgave him for this.
“My ex is the former Lightweight Ultimate Fighting Champion.”
He thought the girl was a spiky-haired New York DJ. She thought that
he had the passion of an artist. It turned out they were both wrong —
she wasn’t a DJ, and he was a robot.
He felt himself stiffen. She took his hand in hers and pulled him to
the bedroom, nudged him down on the bed, and dropped her dress around
her ankles, slipped out of her panties. His girlfriend called while
they had sex, but he didn’t answer the phone.
They’d known each other for years, traveled in the same social
circles. He’d had too much to drink, and his friends dumped him in her
bed. The door was shut and the blankets hung over the windows. She
crawled into bed and they clawed and bit and raked in the dark. None
of their friends suspected.
They’d dated for about a month before he said he’d met someone else,
someone his own age. He was hard on her, but she forgave him and they
remained friends, staying in touch even after she moved away. She sent
him a birthday card. The robot on the card face said, “I know you’ve
got a heart in there somewhere.” The next time they saw one another,
they ended up in bed, her face down against the pillow, back arched to
the sky, bodies pressed slick and wet against one another. The sky was
lightening when he said that maybe they’d made a mistake, that they
should rethink, re-evaluate. Last night’s mascara running down her
face, she began to dress, pulled jeans up tight on milk white legs. “I
knew you’d do this again!” she screamed. “Just! Fucking! Knew it!” He
drove her home as the sun came up. The car hadn’t even come to a stop
and she was on her way out. He called her name, reached for her, and
she slammed the door in his face. She forgave him this too.
She hung out at the bar a lot, this dingy hole on the East Side. They
had this Christmas party where she met a guy who’d just been dumped by
his girlfriend just a few hours before. They got drunk and ended up in
a hot tub, then she took him home. She said her body was a temple,
that he was receiving a sacred gift. He rolled his eyes and tried not
to laugh, then fucked her anyway.
“I’m in love with you,” she said. She waited for him to say something,
but he didn’t, not five minutes later, not ten. She waited three
months for him to respond, and then she deleted his phone number.
She’d been rejected by him twice before, but maybe this time would be
different, maybe he figured out what he wanted. Who he wanted. She was
going to fly up from Orlando and stay for a few days, maybe give the
relationship its first real chance. Two weeks before the trip, he
called to say that he’d met someone new, and that maybe she shouldn’t
come up after all. She called him an ungrateful bastard and told him
to lose her number. She never forgave him for that. Not ever.
This girl checked her voice mail and got a rambling breakup message.
She went to the guy’s apartment and he wouldn’t even talk to her. She
shouted in his face, but he just stood there like a prop.
He leans over the rail as she runs down the stairs. “I love you,” he
says. She looks up at him but says nothing, and a moment later is
She called in the morning, her voice timid on the line. Where had she
been? “I think you already know,” she said. He threw things in his
empty apartment. Shards of glass across the bed, smears from a bloody
hand. He didn’t even remember it. He slept in the bed, glass and all.
He walked to the porch the next morning, and the debris glittered in
He’d made her shower. Said that he could still smell the other guy on
her. Wouldn’t touch her, made her feel like a whore. He checked on her
after twenty minutes had passed, and found her standing in the shower
spray. She was crying. She traced her finger against the window, three
words and a heart cut into the mist. “I love you,” it said.
She’ll be all packed up by the time he comes back with breakfast.
He’ll let the grocery bags slip from his hands and they’ll hit the
ground, spilling produce upon the dirty hardwood floor. Two days
after, her parents will come by to pick up her stuff. It will turn out
that they’d known for weeks. Everyone will have known, all save him.
He’ll feel like the butt of a joke. He’ll feel like an asshole.
This couple gets engaged, pick out a ring at a flea market after weeks
of looking, this sliver of silver with diamonds barely visible to the
naked eye. She loves that ring, rolls it along her finger with her
thumb. She does that when she’s nervous, and she’s nervous a lot. They
never get married, even though she’d meant it when she’d asked him,
and he’d meant it when he’d said yes.
He cheated on her with the ghost of an ex-lover.
She left him and became a missionary, he said, but this is only
half-true. It’s nice when people laugh at his jokes, though, because
he doesn’t laugh much anymore.
They stumble to his apartment through the slush. He can’t get it up,
he’s so drunk. The next morning, she stares out the window as he fucks
her from behind, hips slamming against her ass in rhythm with his
pounding hangover. He finishes up and gets her a towel for the mess.
Five minutes later she’s out the door.
She dug her fingers into his neck when she came, then pushed herself
off him so quickly that the condom nearly tugged loose. Not that it
mattered — he hadn’t finished. She put her clothes on and headed back
to her apartment, grabbed her bags, and left for Europe. He told his
friend about it, who replied, “At least you got it up.”
He wrote her, bought a ticket to see her in the Sunshine State, all to
make amends for past transgressions. Her father called him and told
him not to bother, not to call. Threatened legal action, plus a good
old fashioned ass kicking. He understood, but still wished she’d have
said it to his face. That one last chance.