Often throughout the years, doctors would ask me how I’d managed to rationalize staying with a man who’d allowed the worst of my mind to permeate the earth, and for years I’d have no way to explain to them this indissoluble tug between he and I. I’d deliver tales of soul mates, of unrequited love, only to be returned with disapproving nods, suggestions that I’d invested too much time in the concept of reasoning on my own behalf. They’d shew me with words of the wise, those who’d escaped such “miserable becomings” in their own existences… But oh, eventually I’d known just the way to make them understand, to trigger the opening of their mouths in shapes of “O’s” and the lifting of their palms as if to say “Yes, yes, we finally see.”
It would begin like this:
Imagine you’re stranded on an island and you’ve lost all your teeth…
Ah yes, among the island stems a plentiful food source, but only the fallen bananas can you eat without choking. The problem is, my doctor, you’ve been allergic to bananas all your life, of which you’ve learned through a series of horrible rashes along the inner belly. Oh, the allergy is not a fatal one, but rather an irritation that’d make you grit your teeth as a child (If only you had such luxuries now!). And so your choices are as follows:
- To swallow the boars meat and apple halves without the pleasure of teeth to chew, only to find yourself choked to the grave
- Not to eat at all, but to die by starvation, or…
- To eat the bananas, those which allow you such horrible pain, and survive to see the next day…
And this is where they all would smile, would form those “O’s,” would clap at my ability to explain the unexplainable. For given this ultimatum, nearly all had chosen to eat the rashing bananas, just the same as I— but of those who chose the alternatives offered a preference towards death, a preference to which I refuse to offer shameful countenance… For even now, I remain unaware of that which provides more satisfaction.
babies waitn for the boy
I couldn’t tell whether the blood in my urine was from the bacteria eating away at my kidneys or the shedding of my uterine walls. I wiped the red drips from the toilet seat, lifting my fingers to my nose.
I hadn’t used any sort of vaginal contraption in months. No female diapers to catch the blood, no cylinder sponges shoved in like tiny corpsed fingers. Sure, I was on the pill. Everyone was on the pill. But the doctor’d assured me that I was still a woman.
The blood smelt like copper.
I paused to squeeze at my nipple as if it were a pimple ready to burst. It began to bleed, which I hadn’t thought possible, and I lifted my breast to lick it off.
The blood tasted like iron.
Blood oozing from all those forbidden places.
Blood and rashes lined my body. Blood and rashes and dark brown pubes…
I’d gotten my first tattoo a week earlier. The words were in my father’s handwriting:
Hang in there.
I sighed and tried to recall how to tie a noose, looking to the ceiling for a nice place to swing from.
Joe was gone for a weekend trip and I dived onto the couch, placing my nose on that place which had absorbed the scent of his sweaty ballsack over time. I closed my eyes and thought of the words I’d spoken just days before meeting him.
I’d cornered my sister’s lesbian roommate, demanding the details of her experience with the lesser sex. That is, the male species she’d been forced to copulate with before coming out.
I was never satisfied. The things are gross. Don’t you hate the feel of one in your mouth? I’d rather blow a raw fish.
I laughed, remembering the thought I’d had when I first licked my own sticky fingers after a quick masturbation session. I must’ve been fourteen, and I’d thought:
She hadn’t been with a girl by then, and I repeatedly volunteered to be her first.
I took another big whiff of the couch,
He had been my first for everything. He’d taught me to give a hand job, sighed when I’d wrapped my lips around him, made me forget about the dreams of blowing raw fish…
I began to rub myself against the couch.
It was only seven months earlier that I’d wanted to drop my gender entirely: to chop my hair, throw away my razors, wear turtlenecks on weekdays in July.
I kissed a girl in a bar and spent the following weeks trying to convince her to fall in love with me.
I stopped shaving and began listening solely to Swedish love songs.
I allowed a man straight out of jail to buy me drinks at the bars.
The convict would touch me and I’d cringe.
I still wanted her.
And now, oh now… the couch… the sweat… I wanted nothing but Him.
I wanted him inside my mouth, my bleeding uterus.
The rubbing quickened.
I was wrong to love a man, wrong to desire his fingers between my legs.
And yet I couldn’t stop rubbing myself against that red couch, his eyes burning through mine,
My breasts had grown three sizes since I’d met him. My hips had widened. My disdain towards children had vanished entirely. I spent my nights slipping my hands closer to the source of my pleasure, always praying he’d oblige.
I needed him. I needed him. I needed him…
Oh, it wasn’t so much that he need touch me, that he make my eyes roll…
It was a need that I touch him. That I kick him back, sit between his legs, and dream aloud.
It was the twinge that would hit my every organ, reminding me that I was a woman, that I had no choice in the matters of genitalia.
It was a physical empowerment. My own body against my mind.
To desire men was wrong. To touch myself and lick my lips, to smell a man’s shorts and salivate…
But oh, it felt so good…
I eased myself down, sweating.
How many comments on your eating habits until it’s acceptable to kill your mother
The egocentricity of my disease hadn’t quite hit me until I wished you to be stark dead. Yes, walking across the road, cars blaring by, I begin to imagine the funeral. The force of a car so stout against your skull, you’d be declared gone in an instant. I stand there, sweating, willing it all, just for the permission I’ve needed to ram a bullet through my head.
I see it all so clearly:
I’d stare at your corpse through our wooden coffins. We’d lie there side by side, facing the ceiling of a crowded southern church. On one pew: a broken mother, a comforting step-father, a trembling sister clenching the hand of her girlfriend. On the other: a guilty woman, a silent man, a college dropout in white high heels. The two hundred and six feet would stomp towards our well-dressed bodies, eager to see death at its freshest. An ex-roommate would stand to give a speech, to talk of the times you cared for his mutt, to share some made up last words, to end with a joke on the height of your hair.
The joke wouldn’t land.
The parlor would shave your head for the burial.
My mother’s turn would be next. She’d begin with a prophecy: my daughter, destined to be a servant of Jesus Christ. She’d tell the story of God’s voice in the hospital, of my call to the missionary, of my multiple baptisms. She’d forget to mention the times I swore in His name, the years I’d gone without prayer.
I would smile as she spoke, remembering the time you kissed me hard against the sanctuary doors, your fingers clinging tightly to my little Budweiser tank top.
I am not buried in my little Budweiser tank top.
A man in the back would takes notes, thinking of ours to be the world’s greatest romance. An old boyfriend would cry, relieved to have escaped such insanity. The Murphy twins would sit on row three, shaking their rational heads at our emotional stupidity. None would know what was true. None would know that I’d pushed you to the streets, that I’d wished you to walk slowly, that I’d guided you to the grave.
You’d refuse to look at me. You’d sing loudly when I cried your name. Finally, finally, you’d tell me to fuck off, to just go to heaven, to go wherever you weren’t. You’d beg I repent of my sins, that I’d spend my eternity eating fish and loaves, fish and loaves, fish and loaves, kissing the feet of God. I’d remind you that I don’t eat meat.
You step on the sidewalk, safe from late night traffic. I greet you from the grass, smiling wide, swearing I’d missed you as you’d shopped for the liquor. I wait until the gin is gone to tell you how I wish to die, to tell you that you’re the only reason I’m alive. You mumble God, facing the apartment ceiling, drifting to a hard night’s sleep.
I glance to my fingers. In one hand: your palm. In the other, a fist full of bloody nails…
I lay your body in the streets.
The air smelt like a cheap scented candle, labeled Midnight Moon or Creature of the Night, though it wasn’t the product of commercial burning wicks, but rather the universe’s way of gloating its vulgar charm, a reminder that just as all else, even nature was faulty. You walk far enough into the woods, you find yourself eaten alive by flesh-licking bugs, knee high in deer shit, and tripping on embedded roots. But oh, it looks damn good from the brim.
I stuck my key in the door, contemplating hanging my dog from the leash as punishment for his late night barking. He licked my toes as I stepped inside, resolving me to let him live another hour. Cluck Cluck, baby. I’ll cook ya up like a chicken if you pull that shit again, I thought to tell him, leaning down to give him a big kiss on the nose. I rolled my suitcase to the bedroom, groaning at the prospect of digging to find my toothbrush.
Joe had demanded we each say five good things before I left the apartment to go back home. I got to one. Lying there, feet sprawled high against the wall, I tried my hardest to think of something better than “I didn’t botch the coffee,” but nothing came. I’m so damn negative, I said, to which he didn’t reply, for there was nothing one could truly say. We sure knew how to throw a reunion… Trying helplessly to change the mood of things, I think to tell him of the morning I’d spent masturbating to the thought of him while away on vacation… But I don’t tell him this, because dependency upon one person, even in the sexual realm, is not a good cure for such feelings of loneliness.
If you had to paint every wall of every house you ever lived in for the rest of your life just one color, what’d you choose?
He walked me to the door and locked it right behind me.
I stared at my reflection in the bathroom mirror after having fished the toothbrush out of my suitcase. Speckled, the usual, dotted red all over as a symbol of youth and grime. I slapped my face and looked to the bathtub. Someone had been using my razor to shave. Asshole, I thought, knowing that it really shouldn’t matter. Probably my sister who’d spent the previous evening vocalizing her curiosity as to whether or not our black waiter had spit in our food. Yeah, I thought. Probably. I’d spit in her food.
I glanced back at my toothbrush, gauging my hunger level, deciding to honor the pangs in my stomach. The kitchen was dark, and so I allowed fate to determine my midnight snack. Reaching my hand towards the pantry shelving, I pulled a stack of crackers and sighed. My dog’s toes hit the floor loudly like an angry woman’s fingernails, as if he had every intention to awaken the slumbering beasts down the hall. Cluck Cluck, I told him, peeking at my parents’ door.
That’s the problem with solitude, I thought. When you’re in the prime of the world, dealing with human creatures, only the big stuff is painful. You learn to care about terrorist attacks and dead babies and salmonella. But then that stuff sucks you dry, so you decide to care a little less. You settle with a group of acquaintances, people with music tastes that you tolerate. Then they play a new song for you, and it’s so awful that you have to get rid of them completely. So now you’re all alone, and all you can pick at is the sound of your dog’s toes, and you find yourself even more homicidal than before.
I shovel the crackers down my throat, returning to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Cluck Cluck, I tell the mirror.
I know it hurts. I know it doesn’t feel good.
I know your hunger is different than mine.
I know it doesn’t taste the same as mine.
imagine you could grow up all over again
and pinpoint the millisecond that you started
counting calories like casualties of war,
mourning each one like it had a family.
sometimes I wonder that.
sometimes I wonder if you would go back
and watch yourself reappear and disappear right in front of your own eyes.
and I love you so much.
I am going to hold your little hand through the night.
just please eat. just a little.
you wrote a poem once,
about a city of walking skeletons.
the teacher called home because you
told her you wished it could be like that
let me tell you something about bones, baby.
they are not warm or soft.
the wind whistles through them like they are
holes in a tree.
and they break, too. they break right in half.
they bruise and splinter like wood.
are you hungry?
I know. I know how much you hate that question.
I will find another way to ask it, someday.
I know they are all yelling at you to stretch yourself thinner.
l hear them counting, always counting.
I wish I had been there when the world made you
snap yourself in half.
I would have told you that your body is not a war-zone,
it is okay leave your plate empty."
— empty plate | Caitlyn Siehl (via alonesomes)
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