A constant work in progress; man meets god.
|My foot tangled in the sheets and I toppled over, sending socks and pants and soiled underwear into frantic trajectories.
She laughed, where most would have stymied it, "You didn't even try to stop yourself." Still naked, she shifted her weight from one leg to the other and laughed and laughed.
Nude and wet and frightened, I stayed on all fours, one hand clutching the foot of the bed, a mass of wicked and alone. "What's your name?" I asked, and slid to my stomach. The heel of one shoe pressed itself persistently against the bridge of my nose.
I heard a rustling and then a creak of the mattress springs.
"Igphalia," she says, on cue, as I'd already resigned myself to never seeing her again.
"What an impossibly ugly name."
From above me, what could have been a snort, what could have been a guffaw. She was amused, nothing delighted her more.
"I already know what your name is," another creak and her hair, the great ocher mass of it, landed on my chin, slithered against my chest, tickled my tongue. I sneezed on her forehead.
Our breath mingled, so terribly romantic, "I never told you."
"I heard you say it."
"I didn't say it," and I rolled away from her.
"Yes you did," and she rolled of the bed, landed heavily beside me. Her hand, a heavy heat, lay flat on my navel.
I pushed it off, "No I didn't."
"But you did," it fluttered against my neck, lingered at my cheek. I slapped it away.
A touch on my shoulder, "I never fucking said it," and her flinch was almost audible, I pushed her bodily away, "Why would I have occasion to say my own fucking name in a crowd of fucking people I fucking already know. Why would I need to?"
From all sides there is righteous pounding.
I realized too late that I was yelling, my voice high and broken.
She is the lover I often had, in dreams and visions. Fleshy as in Rubens, her hair a dripping tangerine, meaty fingers, skin the color of discharge, the whites of her eyes like pigeon shit; the pupils brown and mellow. When she smiles, I see the wet black of her gums, the pink bud of her tongue, through gaps in her teeth. Often vulgar. Uncouth. Coarse. Crude. Rough. I imagine she could burp on cue, if I asked her to. She is everything I wanted.
I found it hard to concentrate; in my hands I clutched the moist fold of her flesh, the bouncing, lively mess of her hair. A little girl fell into my lap, and I pinched her cheeks red and called her Igphalia. Her mother screamed, slapped me with her open hand, spirited the child away. Something perverse. I can't hardly work. She consumes my thoughts. Eats them up. Devours them.
Franka leaned up from behind me and brushed the hair out my eyes. Her fingers were wet from something. Precipitation from the milk bottle. I moved away. Just out of my line of sight: a chaos of motion.
"Well, fuck you, too," she said (and it was gone), returned to her lunch. She was eating Nutella from a jar with a small silver spoon, stained brown and black with age and loving use. She opened her mouth and took a sip from her juice box and on her tongue I saw dark and nearly brown, pink, it was spread out and nearly dissolved, in parody of the spoon.
"Mad cow disease," I said, and put my hand on her knee. Amiable.
She shook it off and smiled, her teeth a shitty mauve, "Mad cow disease 'n all can't affect humans. Only cows."
The name itself would suggest it, "Whose to say that?"
Still smiling, she opened her mouth, the pink bud of her tongue, and licked the back of her spoon, slowly, looking at me and for a moment her lips spread. Wide. She slipped it into her mouth and talked coyly around the utensil, "British science."
She laughed, "Oh."
And she is who I should be lying with. She is who I would lay with forever. Franka, the Magnificent. Franka. My. Only.
Igphalia grabbed my arm and tossed me over, straddling my back, her hands on my shoulder blades. She is heavy. Unbelievably heavy. Incomprehensibly heavy. Heavier than anything I've ever-
"We've already been through that."
"You know very well what I am."
I don't know. I don't know at all. Never in my life have I felt myself so very close to tears so very many times. Not since I was an infant, not since my head was far too large for my body, not since my neck couldn’t support its weight, not since. I can't even remember that.
She tells me these things I must learn to accept.
After "oh", she was silent, and I struggled for something to say, needed to hold her attention. She spoke first and I could have ravaged her then.
"Come back to my place?" she was still spoke around the spoon, looking away now, a parody of nonchalance.
"Come back to your place?"
“That’s what I-.”
There was a pause. I wished she'd have laughed, but she didn't, "Alright."
Igphalia. Magdalene, perhaps, or Petunia. Or, more likely, Ophelia, as in Hamlet. Yes. Ophelia. That is how it must be. That is how it should be. To die, to sleep, to breathe no more; scorned and crazy and wet. In minds eye, I see her in weighted petticoats that billow and dance about in gentle currents, while orange hair drifts in great tendrilled masses, and eyes glazed-open, forever temperate, as in her hands are rose petals. Getting her out on the branch would be the problem. Snapping it would not.
The keys jingle and sickly echo my anxiety, my small intestine is tangled, a wide-toothed comb away from calm. This whole delightfully sordid affair, her hand on my arm. The cool of her skin. The gray of her hair. She smells of plague and cough syrup. The breath of illness, says British science, milky and warm.
"Here we are. My humble . . ." but she doesn't.
Instead she pushes open the door and steps aside, shyly avoiding my gaze, cheeks speckled pink, belying her age. Her arms are folded, hands thrust into opposite pockets, ankles crossed demurely; she is the very embodiment of emotional walls.
Suddenly she sighs and stares up at me resolutely with a look I assume is meant to communicate smoldering passion. Beneath gray-lined eyes her dull yellow lips twitch and curl defiantly. She uncrosses her arms, lets them swing loose at her sides.
She takes a deep breath and leans heavily against the door. I smile quickly, tentatively, and brush past her, she stumbles and nearly loses her balance, her hand snakes out. She catches herself on the shiny green-gold metal of the doorknob and breaks her nail.
Such charming emotional walls. Her little cry echoes in my small intestine.
After that, of course, the awkward theatrics. The furtive, darkened fumbling. The timid moans and the hasty pullings.
I remember her asking what my name was.
Her voice a trilling sadness in my ear and when I see her in the light of a street lamp later on, she is the very embodiment of a haunting sigh. Melancholy and the Lies We Tell Ourselves.