I was still half asleep when I realized it was my phone ringing and not the alarm clock going off.
Reaching across the bed to make the incessant noise stop I realized I wasn’t in bed alone and it was then I remembered the wine that had been spilled on the carpet in my living room. The glass had been knocked off the table and onto the white carpet, the deep red wine quickly soaking into the fibers to get to the padding below.
As I answered the phone it occurred to me that I could clearly picture the wine soaking into the carpet but I had no idea what the woman in my bed looked like.
I had a moment to feel bad about that before I recognized the voice on the other end of the phone. It was Lisa, the cashier at the Chevron down the street from where the work site was. If she was calling me that meant it was after two in the afternoon. She worked nights at a local strip-club and never woke up before two.
“Hey Lisa, what’s up?” I whispered into the phone, trying not to wake up the soundly sleeping woman next to me.
“I was hoping you were free, I wanted to come over and see you. I feel bad we couldn’t get together last night.”
Lisa and I had had plans the night before. It was all coming back to me. Her picking up an extra shift at the club, me running into the landlord’s daughter as she was on her way home from teaching kindergarten. A few bottles of wine and a bullshit conversation about no sex on the first date. That conversation turned into one about favorite sexual positions and that led to clothes coming off in the living room, and in turn, the wine falling to the carpet.
We had ended up in my bed before the third bottle of wine hit the floor. I had never imagined an educator of small children would be into pain so much, but it worked and judging from the scratches and bite marks that I could make out on her back, it had worked well.
“Yeah, I need to get up and clean a bit but you can come over. I will call Steve and have him pick you up. You are at your place right?”
Steve was a friend of mine. A lonely friend and one that was eager to help out in these situations. He had picked Lisa up for me before. Lisa didn’t have a car and I was generally not able to pick her up. He lived a mile from her anyway, I lived about twenty. It seemed to work out for everyone involved. Of course, he would call tomorrow and want all of the details, which I felt was a small price to pay for such a great service.
“Yep, tell him I can be ready in ten.”
“Let’s call it thirty, just to be safe.” I still had to get the wine spilling teacher out of my bed.
“Fine, if you want to wait.” she said in mock frustration.
That comment made it clear that Lisa wanted to fuck. Which was fine with me. Both of us had already realized that we didn’t much care to be friends, we had nothing in common except for sex. The only real question when she called was- are were going out to eat first or just fuck. We figured there was no sense in playing games.
“I have to clean up and take a shower, I will tell him to head over in thirty minutes. Be ready.” I hung up the phone after the last syllable was whispered and looked up Steve’s contact info. Hitting dial, I glanced back over at the woman in my bed and realized that she would probably head over to the landlord’s apartment when I kicked her out. I considered this as the phone rang three times before Steve picked up.
“Hey man, what’s up?” I heard over the phone as Steve picked up. He was wide awake so it was mid-afternoon. His work schedule at the Probation Department left him sleeping in until around 3pm most days.
“I need you to pick Lisa up in about thirty minutes. She will be waiting for you. Tell her to give you gas money and I will pay her back.”
“Sounds good, man. I will be there. Are you going to need me to pick her up later?”
“No, she has work tonight so I can take her in. Not a problem. Thanks though.”
“Sure thing, man. Talk to you tomorrow.”
I hang the phone up and still thinking about what to do if this chick next to me hangs around the complex, I decide to just wake her up and see what happens. I realize that considering how the night went that she won’t be too surprised if I simply kick her out and get her phone number. Do I have her number already? I doubt it, what I can remember from last night was meeting her by the pool when I went to check my mail. No chance to get her number really.
“Hey…ummm…Mrs. Teacher, it is time to get up. I have to jump in the shower and have people coming over.” It is the best I was able to think of.
“Hmmmmmmmm, can I sleep just a little bit longer? My fucking head is killing me.” She turns around as she is speaking and tucks her face under my arm and chest. I don’t remember her voice being so sexy last night, maybe it is the half asleep version of it that is appealing.
“Well, I can give you ten more minutes while I am in the shower but seriously, I need you to be up when I am done.”
“Okay, ten more minutes will work.”
As I get up out of the bed she grabs my pillow and buries her head in it. She is totally naked and not bothering to cover her body with either the blanket or the sheet that is nearly tangled into rope and hanging off of the side of the bed. I admire her body, both the marks covering it and her total disregard for the fact that she is exposing this much flesh to me when we had just met 16 hours before.
I consider getting back into bed with her until I remember that I actually have someone coming over that I can scratch that itch with, someone that knows how I like to fuck and makes damn sure that I am left totally satisfied when she is done with me.
Time to get in the fucking shower.
* * *
She is sitting in the living room when I get out of the bathroom. Thankfully she is now dressed, though she took it upon herself to raid my cupboards and find my box of Fruity Pebbles tucked in the back. I didn’t realize I had milk that was still good, pretty sure it wasn’t actually. Regardless, she was sitting there eating a bowl of cereal, and I still could not think of her fucking name.
“Don’t take this the wrong way…” I start to say.
“Yeah, I know. I need to go, you have things to do and can you get my number.”
“Ummm. Well, yeah. That about sums it up actually. Throw your name in there and you pretty much nailed it.”
“My number AND name are already written on a piece of paper on your counter.”
“I had a great time last night, sorry about the wine on the carpet.”
Me too and yeah, sure, no problem.
“Call me some time, preferably when you don’t have another woman coming over the next afternoon.”
She finishes her cereal and walks toward me and the kitchen. Setting the bowl in the sink, she fills it with water and turns to face me again.
“You need milk, the stuff you have expired two days ago.” She then gives me a deep, lingering kiss before unlocking the front door and walking away.
Unsure of exactly what just happened I shake my head for a moment and grab at the towel around my waist before it falls to the floor. Glancing at the microwave I see that Steve will be here with Lisa in about 6 minutes, so I needed to throw some clothes on and clean up the remnants of last night’s escapades. Might be a good idea to open the patio door and get some fresh air in here too.
After throwing on a pair of pants and a shirt, I throw some baking soda over the wine spilled on the carpet, toss a black towel on top of it and cover that with a stack of books. Probably wont do a damn thing but at least it will soak up whatever wine hasn’t stained the concrete below. I collect the discarded bottles and put them in a box by the front door. Fuck Those were the last three bottles of wine. All I have left to drink are a few beers and a bottle of rum. There was a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard but I knew it made both Lisa and I angry and if we got angry and fucked I could very well get evicted, that was the threat last time it happened anyway.
My cell phone rings from in the bedroom, reminding me I still have to make the bed. Fuck, should I bother changing the sheets? Better check if I need to. I grab the phone from the nightstand and see it is Lisa calling. I answer it while I tear the blanket the rest of the way off of the bed.
“Hey, Lisa, what’s up? The gate not open?”
“We’re stopping for smokes, do you want me to grab anything?”
“Perfect, yeah can you grab a couple of bottles of wine? Not feeling like rum tonight and aside from that all I have is beer.”
“Sure thing, you got cash to pay for it? I can buy one of the bottles.”
“Actually, grab three bottles and pick me up a pack of smokes too please. I have cash, don’t worry about that.”
“See you in about ten.”
She hangs up the phone and I realize I just need to change the sheet on the bed. We aren’t going to be using a blanket any time soon anyway. I wad the tangled sheet up, throw it in the corner of the room and drop the blanket on top of it. Stripping the bed I put that sheet on top of the pile in the corner and grab a matching sheet from my closet and remake the bed, minus a blanket.
Dressed, apartment clean and bed made, I can finally have a smoke. I head to the patio, lean against the railing, light a cigarette and enjoy the bright summer day. I can see the apartment gate from my patio and watch as Steve pulls up. He parks in front of my place and smiles at me as Lisa opens the door. She leans down to say some final words to him and I see her shirt ride up, exposing the small of her back and the fact that her pants ride really low. So low that I can see she isn’t wearing any panties. Which is pretty typical for her, she figures they are part of her work outfit. Why should she bother wearing them on her own time? Understanding her logic, I can hardly argue the point. Plus, half the time her pants are in danger of being torn off of her, why would I make things harder for myself?
Steve waves as I see him shift the car into reverse and start to back out. He has a huge smile on his face and I can only imagine he finally told Lisa why he is so eager to pick her up. Not that I care really, nor do I think Lisa minds. She enjoys talking about the sex she has. When we first met she told me about a guy she had taken home the night before and how well he had fucked her. In fact, I took that story as a challenge and asked her to go out the following night. As far as I knew she hadn’t seen that dude again and that was three months ago.
Lisa walks up the stairs to my apartment and I see she brought her overnight bag and makeup case. Thankfully she has work tonight though, so I knew the bag held clothes for her to change into here before heading to work. I have yet to meet a stripper that left their makeup at the club they worked at.
Without knocking she walks into my apartment and drops her bag and the bag of wine to the floor before setting her makeup case on the counter. She looks at me, smiles and reaches out to have me walk toward her. I close the distance between us and she wraps her arms around my head, pulling my face down to hers. She kisses my neck, making her way up to my ear.
“You tell Steven about us fucking every time he drives me here?”
“Well, you don’t mind the neighbors knowing, figured you wouldn’t mind your personal driver knowing either. Is this going to be a problem for you?”
“Well, the only problem I have with it is the fact that as he was confessing to me this little bit of information I started getting wet and really wanted to show him everything that he had heard about.”
“You are such a fucking slut. At least tell me you didn’t act on that little impulse. I mean, fuck Steve all you want but take a shower before seeing me at least.”
She backs away and punches me playfully in the chest.
“No, asshole. I didn’t fuck Steve. I am not that big of a slut. Jesus, you know I don’t fuck friends of friends. At least not while I am still friends with them.”
I pull her back to me and start kissing her. She has bubblegum in her mouth, it must be a new piece because her mouth is so full of the fresh flavor, almost like cotton candy. I get lost in the taste of the gum for a while as I am kissing her and she reminds me that we are kissing by rubbing her tongue along the edge of my top teeth. I pull back slightly and bite her upper lip, letting her know that I am there, and her hands that had made their way up to my neck start to drop down to her pants.
She pushes her hips away from mine and unbuttons her pants. I remember the low cut of them and know that once they are unbuttoned all she will need are a few wiggles of that toned ass for them to fall to the floor. Still kissing her, I reach down and begin to unbutton my own pants but her hands stop mine as she steps out of the pants she was wearing, now sitting in a pile on the floor. She starts unbuttoning my pants as I reach to her shirt and pull the bottom edge up over her head. We stop kissing for a moment as her face is lost in the white fabric with some black picture on the front that I hadn’t bothered to pay attention to.
Our kiss resumes as I drop her shirt to the floor, notice she hadn’t worn a bra and I feel my pants being pushed down my hips, soon to fall next to hers on the carpet. She stands naked before me and I wear only my shirt as she grabs my hand and pulls me toward the bedroom door. I smile as I realize that she wants a little warm up before we start drinking and following her into the room I pull my shirt up over my head and glance at the clock on the wall. It is a quarter to four. She has to be at work in six hours. Plenty of time for some fun and drinking. Thankfully, being sober isn’t something she has to worry about at the club she dances at.
* * *
The thing about Lisa is that she cannot have marks left on her. That is a problem at the club she works at. Bruises and bite marks mean that she is either being abused or having sex with someone. None of the guys that see her at the club want to think of her having sex with anyone other than them and while some of them may be okay with the abused look, they usually isn’t the type that tips well. Either way, marks are off limits. Which explains why I usually end up leaving pretty intense marks on the other women that I end up in bed with. Making up for Lisa’s inability to indulge me? Probably.
I tell Lisa that we need to take a break, I want a cigarette and a glass of wine. She throws a little bit of a fit before I look at her and repeat that we need to take a break. The room has gotten too hot and the air is thick with the smell of sex. I need to open a window and get some fresh air in here and the neighborhood kids probably shouldn’t be hearing the shit coming out of this woman’s mouth.
She gets out of bed and heads to the bathroom. I head to the kitchen, grab a bottle of wine and the corkscrew. I don’t bother looking at what kind of wine she got, it is red and it is not too warm in my hand. Really just looking for some alcohol, not what best to pair rough sex with. There doesn’t seem to be a specific type of wine that compliments a ball-gag and anal beads anyway. Though, I would say that a fruity Pinot does serve very well after a nice flogging scene.
I half fill two glasses and wrap a towel around my waist before heading out to the patio. Setting the glasses on the ledge I see my cigarettes on the counter and start to head back inside. Lisa is there though and grabs them as she walks toward me. Still naked, flesh a little too pink, almost red, in places. Nothing that would still be there in a few hours but redder then I thought it would be, need to keep that in mind.
“Grab a towel, Lisa, please. I mean, not that I don’t want to see your naked body as I drink my wine, but there are kids out here and it is against the fucking law. You can take it off once we are done smoking and the room is aired out.”
She tosses me my smokes as she turns around and heads back toward the bathroom. She returns with a towel wrapped around her chest, it falls about an inch below the bottom of her ass. If she were to bend over she may as well be naked. Fuck it, she made the effort at least.
We smoke in silence.
Both of us enjoy the sunlight and fresh air. We sip our wine and look out at the street in the distance, watch the cars fighting traffic. The breeze is blowing her smoke slowly toward me and I pick up hints of clove as she takes a drag. She likes to take a drag and then a sip of wine, lets the smoke fill the glass as she sips. She thinks it adds a flavor to her drink. I really don’t care enough to try it, I don’t like cloves and I think the wine tastes fine. She does it with every wine though, so this isn’t something special. It is just one of the things that Lisa does. Not that it is really annoying or bothers me, it is just one of her character traits. One of those things that says I might be seeing a little too much of her because I am noticing this.
Finishing my cigarette, I drop the butt into an old bottle of wine, empty except for the few dozen burned, brown speckled cigarette butts that are already inside. I watch the smoke rise out of the opening of the neck and imagine a smokestack at some factory and then the opening scene of the movie “The Crow” where the camera pans over similar smokestacks spewing flame. The memory reminds me of the soundtrack to that movie and as I take the final swallow of wine in the glass, I grab Lisa’s hand and pull her back inside my apartment.
Inside, she takes the wine glass from my hand as I turn the stereo on and search for the CD that is already playing in my head. Lisa pours us more wine as I flip through a case of CDs. Triumphantly I find the CD and place it in the glowing slot on the stereo. Gears turn as the CD is taken from my fingers and “READING” flashes across the digital display. Lisa hands me my fresh glass of wine as the music starts. I turn the volume up, knowing that it is still early enough to have it loud.
I look at Lisa as she drinks her wine, I remember the first night we went out. She showed me pictures of herself as a child that she had just gotten from her mother. She told me about her dream as a child to be a figure skater and how she hadn’t been able to take the classes because her parents could not afford them. Then we had finished whatever bottle of alcohol we had been drinking and fucked on the stairs we had just been sitting on. Chickens walked around on the grass by the amphitheatre behind us and the moon cast enough light for me to make sure that the cops didn’t sneak up on us.
The expression on her face changes and I realize I have been staring at her. Giving her a dismissive smile I tip the bottom edge of the wine glass she is drinking up toward the ceiling and she obliges me by swallowing every last drop.
“Dead Souls” begins to play through the speakers and I decide we need a break from drinking, we need to fuck. I slide my hand between the flapping edges of the towel. Lisa’s foot rocking back and forth is causing the fabric to dance and I realize that she had been trying to get my hands on her for at least a few minutes. Touching her skin, I start to get hard under the towel and put my wine glass down so that I can pull Lisa toward me and feel her flesh against mine.
Grabbing her waist, I let the towel fall to the floor as she pulls the one wrapped around me off and tosses it to the couch. Running my hands up and down her body, I slowly turn her around and firmly push on her back as I bend her over the kitchen counter.
* * *
When Lisa and I fuck, we fuck in ways that are illegal in some states and are cause for execution in some countries. I am not exaggerating or trying to make myself look like an amazing lover, I am simply stating a fact. We are able to become base animals and indulge in activities that were until recently pretty much unheard of in “polite” society. The only thing I have to keep in mind are the marks, but Lisa makes sure that there are plenty of other ways for us to express ourselves to each other.
We go through another bottle of wine and the CD is playing in a continuous loop as we alternate between the kitchen, the living room and the bedroom. The only room that we do not destroy is the bathroom. I am not sure why this is except that it is a little way down the hallway and rug burn constitutes a mark on her body, so we never make it that far. I turn the air conditioning on, because the air quickly grows too warm for comfort and the constant blowing of air feels good as it hits the sweat on our bodies.
I hear The Cure’s “Burn” play for what must be the twelfth time before we collapse on the bed, utterly exhausted. Lisa has the body of a dancer (it would have served her well ice skating) and the endurance of a dancer that has to perform for hours every night to pay her bills. Our six hours have dwindled to 2 hours at this point and I know that she is going to need a nap before she gets ready for work. Taking the wine glasses out of the room, I tell her to lay down and close her eyes.
“Get some rest, you have work soon.”
In a half dazed state, she smiles and lays her head on a pillow.
She calls for me when I am out in the living room after I turn the music off, a soft vulnerable call out for my presence. Not because she really wants my body next to hers, I know she likes to sleep alone, but because she doesn’t like to be alone. If I stay with her as she falls asleep she is content, if I am there to wake her up she is happy.
I head back to my bedroom and sit next to her on the bed. I rub her body as she presses the side of her face deeper into the pillow and arches her back toward my hip behind her. She looks back at me, starts to mouth something but decides against it. She gives her head a little shake and turns back toward the pillow. Her eyes close and I know she is about to fall asleep. I keep rubbing her back until I can tell she is has passed out.
I grab my phone and see that I have missed three calls. The light on my phone blinks telling me I have voice mails to listen to. I check the missed call list and see that Steve called about an hour ago and that my ex-girlfriend, Bella, called me twice. Both times were within the past fifteen minutes.
Probably got in another fight with her husband and wants me to come rescue her. I think to myself as I press the screen to call her back. Fucking figures this shit would happen today.
“I need to see you.” Is all she says to me when she picks up the line.
“Well, what exactly is going on?”
“Frank and I got in another fight and I am at my mom’s house right now. I really need to see you.”
“Fuck, Bella. I haven’t heard from you in over a month. Why am I the one you call when this shit happens?”
“You know what, you are right. This was a mistake. I shouldn’t run to you when this happens anymore. You made your position clear when you decided to…”
“It is alright, Bella, come over. I have someone here, she is sleeping before work but I will tell her she has to go. You know I love you, you know I will take care of you.”
“I know. Sometimes I think you are the only one that will.”
Yeah, that is usually how it works out, isn’t it. Let me be there for you now, and when things are all better you can run back to being the person you are going to run away from again in a couple of months. I don’t say any of this though, it doesn’t matter. Bella is Bella, accept it or cut her out of my life. That is really all I can do, accept it.
“Give me a few minutes to wake her up, you know the code to the gate.”
Her mom lives on the next street over. That is actually why I am in this apartment, an artifact from the couple of years Bella and I were together. This was supposed to be our apartment, before she went back to her husband. Time has changed things though, she is once again Frank’s wife and I am once again living alone and lost.
I know Bella can be here within a couple of minutes if she wants to be a bitch, given the sadness in her voice it wont be that quickly though. She really does need to feel loved tonight and she isn’t going to risk causing me to choose between her and whoever she thinks might be in my bed, not tonight at least.
I go into the room and wake Lisa up. I explain that an emergency has come up and that I have to take her to work early. I tell her that my ex is coming over and needs some help dealing with her husband. That I don’t think it was a good idea for her to be around for the conversation, that it might take a while to deal with shit.
I can smell the wine on my breath, smell it on Lisa’s and know that we both need to brush our teeth before Bella gets here. Not that I am concerned if Bella smells wine on my breath, but the cops might be, if we happened to get pulled over on the way to drop Lisa off at work. With the day going the way that it is, I am not taking any chances.
“Lisa, I am going to take a quick shower with you and then when my ex gets here I will talk to her out on the porch so that you can get ready for work. Take your time, I am sure we have a lot to talk about. I will drop you off at work when you are ready and then give you a call tomorrow afternoon and let you know what is going on. Okay?”
“You don’t need to explain yourself to me. It isn’t a big deal. Whatever you have going on is your shit to deal with, not mine. I am fine.”
She says that but her eyes say something different. Her eyes say that she has been here before and that every word she just said was scripted, held in reserve for those moments when she was cast aside for someone “more important.” I can sense that she needs something from me right now but I just do not know what I can give her.
“Let’s get in the shower, Lisa.”
Her face goes blank as she sits up and gets out of the bed. She walks out of the room without looking at me and a few moments later I hear the water running in the shower. Knowing that there is nothing I can do, nothing I can say to undo the years of hurt she feels from this happening over and over in her life I simply get off of the bed and join her in the bathroom.
I get there just in time to see her close the shower curtain behind her and I shut the door to trap the steam that is filling the room. Still naked, I have nothing to take off and step into the steaming hot water with her. As I reach for my toothbrush and toothpaste, Lisa moves to the side so that I can reach them. She isn’t happy and I don’t blame her. I know that I am the cause of her being hurt right now but my words will only make the pain deeper, so I remain silent and brush my teeth. I watch as the foaming toothpaste turns red from the wine in my mouth and I imagine it is blood, blood pouring from my mouth like words of pain and I wish those words could flow so easily down the drain as the foam does. If only emotions could be easily washed away as wine-stained foam.
I run my hand down her back as I step under the water to rinse the dried sweat off of me. She doesn’t move away, but she doesn’t push back into me either, like she would normally do. She is now in her serious mode and the best thing I can do is leave her alone. She is usually like this after she gets off work. Detached from her actions and the people around her, deep inside of some part of her mind that keeps her safe and protects her. I hate this dead state she gets into, but I usually understand it. I do now actually, but feel remorse for being the cause of it this time. This isn’t the position I am usually in with her.
Knowing that my best course of action at this point is to leave her alone, I get out of the shower and dry myself off. The mirror is fogged with steam and I leave it that way. Not quite ready to look at myself in the mirror, knowing the look of conflict I feel is clearly written on my face. Instead I run some gel through my hair and make my way to my bedroom closet. I put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I check my phone and see that Bella called a few minutes ago and sent me a text message. She is out front, waiting for me on the steps.
I slide my feet into some flip-flops before opening my front door. I see her sitting there, half out of the light coming from the bulb next to my door. I can see that her make-up is smeared and that she has been crying. The skin around her eyes is that puffy red, like Lisa’s skin earlier, that means it has been rubbed raw. Whatever happened tonight must have been bad, she doesn’t usually cry so much that her make-up gets messed up. She enjoys the look of her own face too much for that to happen.
“Hey, Bella, I need to take my friend Lisa to work and then we can talk. Wasn’t exactly prepared for you to call me. She is getting ready right now, are you going to be okay staying here or do you want to go with us?”
“I’ll drive, I could use the distraction. I am really sorry to do this to you, I know it cannot be easy for you.”
“It’s fine, I know you wouldn’t call me if it wasn’t serious. I’ll go check on Lisa. Hang out here for a second, please.”
I head back inside and see light coming down the hallway from the bathroom. That means the door is open and I cannot hear water running so it is safe to guess that Lisa is out of the shower. I wait a minute to listen for noise coming from the bathroom and hear the unmistakable sound of hair being brushed. I walk toward the sound and see Lisa looking at herself in the mirror that is still fogged up except for the circular patch in the center that she must have wiped away with the edge of her towel. She gives me a half smile as my face appears next to hers in the reflection.
“Is she here?” the smile not matching the words.
“Yeah, she is sitting out front, waiting to take you to work. Listen, Lisa, I don’t want you to think I am kicking you out. Not in that way at least, I just have to deal with this and it is really a situation that you don’t want any part of. I didn’t know this was going to happen tonight.”
“Like I said. Your shit to deal with, not mine. I have enough of my own shit to figure out. You guys take me to work, you call me tomorrow and everything will be fine. We just fuck you know? We aren’t a couple, you don’t owe me anything.”
Once again her words do not match her face. She is in pain and defaults to her scripted “safe” reactions. Accept it or move on. That seems to be the constant. Don’t bother helping people, they usually don’t want help anyway. Not really, more comfortable being miserable with a false sense of control then being uncomfortable and working on a better self. Her eyes cry out for help or maybe an answer, I pull her to me and hold her.
I feel her sob against me for a moment and then her body goes stiff. She takes a deep breath and I can hear the snot being sucked back into her nose. She brings her arms up between our bodies and with her fists clenched she puts her forearms against my chest and pushes away from me.
“Don’t do this. Don’t try to comfort me. Leave me alone. Seriously, don’t pretend that you care enough to be there for me.”
I know what she is doing, and I know that right now I need to leave her alone. Her pain is her friend right now, not me.
I touch her face, cup her chin in my hand, and she leans into my palm as I kiss her forehead. She closes her eyes and smiles as I drop my hand and leave the bathroom to go talk to Bella.
* * *
Bella and I talk, it is the same story as before. “Frank is controlling and tyrannical,” “I miss you and the freedom we had with each other,” I made a mistake but I don’t know what to do about it,” We don’t love each other but we are married.” The list goes on and on, I have heard it so many times that I can visualize it in my mind and I check the reasons off of a list as she says them.
“Bella, you can stay with me tonight, think about things tomorrow and then call Frank. You and I had our time. You made your choice as much as I made mine. The grass is always greener, as they say.”
“I know. Tonight would be really nice. We can take your friend, Lisa, to work. Maybe grab something to eat and then come back here?”
She makes Lisa’s name a question, like she hadn’t bothered paying attention to me saying it because she is of no consequence to her. Which is pretty typical of Bella, not many people are worth her noticing.
“Yeah, that is what we will do. If that is what you need.”
She reaches to me, hugs me and whispers I love you in my ear. I tell her that I love her, I do it because it is true, I cannot deny it and I know that right now she needs to hear it.
The hug is interrupted by my front door opening. Lisa is standing there, framed in the light from inside the apartment, but even in that light I can see that she has already put her makeup on. She sparkles in the half-light. Her natural beauty only highlighted by the creams and powders that she has skillfully applied, layer by layer.
“I am ready to go when you are.” She smiles at both of us and adjusts the bag on her shoulder, as if her words did not make perfectly clear that she is ready to go and the sooner the better.
Bella stands up and grabs her purse as I walk past Lisa to grab my wallet and keys. I get the money I owe Lisa out and hand it to her as I lock my front door. I think about the state that everything is in behind the locked door and I shrug to myself as I realize that there isn’t really anything I can do about it at this point. There is no way I am letting these two go off on their own and Bella needs to realize that she put herself into this situation. It is up to her to accept the fact that my apartment is chaotic right now and that it needs to be sanitized. And the fucking sheet needs to be changed again.
* * *
The drive to the club was uneventful, no cops stopped us and aside from Lisa giving Bella directions there was no conversation to be had. Bella did make a small snort of derision as we pulled up to one of the area’s seedier strip-clubs but it was quiet enough that Lisa didn’t catch it in the back seat.
I walked Lisa to the back door of the club, said hi to Manuel, the bouncer, and gave her one last hug before she started work.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Lisa. I really hope you are alright.”
“I am fine, everything is fine. Don’t let it bother you anymore, really.”
I shake my head slightly at her comment and she smiles and turns around to go to work. I want to say more to her but there is no point. There was never any point in saying more. Not to her, not to any woman that walked away really. If they are walking away, all the words in the world won’t keep them from walking eventually.
I get back into the car and Bella suggests we grab some burgers before heading back to my place. I tell her we need some beer too and she pulls into the nearest liquor store.
I grab a twelve pack of beer from the liquor store, we grab some burgers at the nearest drive-thru and we drive the rest of the way to my apartment in silence. I can tell she wants to talk about Lisa, but we both know that there is nothing to talk about. Bella is married, not really in a position to ask me details about whom I am fucking and I am not in the mood to get into it with her anyway. The silence is welcome actually, I listen to the sound the tires make as they rotate on the pavement below us. I close my eyes and all I can picture is me on my bed alone, no trace of anyone else having been there. I am alone and things are silent and everything is in its place.
I must have dozed off for a minute because I am startled by the electronic beep of the keypad at the gate to my apartment complex. Bella is punching the code in and I am still holding the bag of burgers and fries. She pulls into an open parking space and takes the food off of my lap before reaching over to give me a kiss. She gets out of the car and I consider for a moment if I am really where I seem to be. The entire day seems too surreal to be reality.
Bella is standing in front of her car looking, at me. I come to the conclusion that this is real and I have to go inside, eat, drink and probably fuck Bella. The thought of sex isn’t really exciting me at this point but I know with her it will be a different experience than the other two. Bella and I know each other, have a history and sex has always been more then just sex with her. Even considering that, sex isn’t what is coming to mind right now.
I grab the beer and head to the apartment, Bella following behind. As I open the front door I realize Lisa must have shut the air conditioner off since I can smell the hours old fucking that has taken place in the 900 square feet of space I am walking into. I know Bella can smell it too because she makes that snort of hers again and I smile a little bit on the inside.
“Let me open the patio door and turn the AC on. Need to air this place out a bit.” I look at her and say as I put the beer in the refrigerator.
“I’ll grab some plates and beers,” she replies as she sets the bag of food on the counter.
Bella likes to eat her takeout on plates, which always struck me as odd because it takes away from the experience but then when we broke up I found myself doing the same thing. It pissed me off a little every time I found myself doing it but it had become a sort of ritual for me and I just couldn’t shake the habit.
After opening the sliding glass door and turning the air conditioner on, I strip the bed of its sheet for the second time in a day and find the last sheet I have in my closet to put on in its place. Since there are matching pillow cases and smeared makeup on the ones already on my bed I figure I may as well change those too. Throwing the dirty linens on top of the growing pile in the corner, I take a look around the room to make sure that it is in a presentable state and seeing that it is I turn the light off and join Bella in the living room.
Instead I find her out on the patio, sitting in a chair with her plate propped up on her knee and a bottle of beer on the concrete next to her. A plate of food for me sits on the chair next to her and an open beer is sitting on the concrete in front of the chair. She tosses me an empty pack of cloves and grabs her beer. I catch the pack and drop it to the ground as I realize it has annoyed her to find it sitting on my patio.
“Are you going to really let that bother you, Bella?” I ask, getting annoyed that she would actually let this be an issue given the situation between her and I.
“No, no I am not. It annoyed me a little but why shouldn’t it be here. Actually, I am surprised it is the only thing out here. And before you ask, I came out here because I can smell the stench of sex inside and it was making me sick to my stomach.”
I laugh a little at this comment. Bella likes her sex as much as I do, she isn’t bothered by the smell of it, she is bothered by who the sex was with and who’s “stench” she is smelling.
“It will be aired out soon and we can go inside. I am sorry it bothers you, not much I can do about it though. I mean…”
“I know, lets drop it. I don’t want to think about it. I want to enjoy being here with you now. Can we do that?”
“Of course Bella, we can enjoy just being here together right now.”
As I eat my burger I think about what that means, to be here right now. As if the past doesn’t matter and the future isn’t real. I am her escape from reality, something she can throw herself into when everything else becomes too much to bear. If we live in this moment then there is no accountability, no questions to ask or answer later. It is such an easy thing to do for the one running away from something, to be distracted for a while so that you can gather your energy and strength to go back out into the world when you are ready. Too bad it doesn’t work that way for the people that aren’t escaping something. Those are the ones that are thinking about the past and hoping for the future. I am one of those people, I realize.
I finish my burger before I finish the train of thought I am on and I realize my beer is empty too. I head in for another and see that Bella needs one. I grab two beers, open them and head back out to the patio, the apartment still smells a little of the sex that was had earlier. I should probably have the carpets cleaned, might be the only way to really get rid of it actually.
I hand Bella a beer and light myself a cigarette. Bella doesn’t smoke unless she is really drunk, so I know she isn’t going to be smoking tonight. Tonight isn’t about getting drunk, she wants to be comforted and loved. The beer is for me, to be in a place where I can accept being the one to comfort her and love her without wanting there to be a tomorrow.
I finish my second beer, excuse myself to go take a piss and look in the mirror when I am done. I smile and laugh at myself as I see my reflection. I see a face that looks so confidant and content with life, I see the effects of the wine earlier and the two beers I just drank. I see the glossiness of my eyes and the half smile of approaching drunkenness and I want to punch the mirror because I know it is a facade and that I am empty inside. I know that if I felt confidant and content I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t have let love get away from me when I had the chance.
Turning the cold water on I cup my hands under the running water and splash my face with the numbingly cold liquid.
Get the fuck over it, man, really. Is this that bad a place to be in? Of a place to be in? Which is it? A place or of a place?
I realize I am trying to figure out correct grammar as I avoid thinking about my actions over the past day. I grab a towel and wipe my face dry. I imagine wiping away the thoughts in my mind as I wipe my face and I remember Bella’s request to have tonight just be tonight and I head back to her and grab a couple more beers.
“What do you say we strip, get into bed and you let me hold you for a while?” I ask her, knowing that she needs it as much as I want it.
“I think that is a great idea.”
The apartment is aired out now and I shut the patio door. I leave the air conditioner on so that the smell doesn’t reappear as I watch as Bella strip naked in my room. I watch as she takes off each piece of clothing, the hallway light the only light on. Her body lost in shadow when she turns to unfasten her bra and when she unbuckles her belt. The light shining off of her skin reminds me of how it feels to touch her and I imagine the light from the hallway as my hand rubbing over her. I know that us getting into bed together is a bad idea but it is the only thing we can do at this point. I don’t think either of us can walk away and not regret having done so.
After she is stripped naked she climbs into the bed and I take my clothes off. She pats the empty space next to her and as I get into the bed she turns her back to me and pulls the blanket up over her nude form. She knows what this means to me and I slide my body into the contours of her body and I wrap my arm around her, pulling her tight against me. Her ass pressed into my crotch, her heat mixing with my heat and I feel myself getting hard against her ass.
* * *
Bella and I don’t really fuck as much as we “make love.” It is rough and there is pain but it is equally soft and loving. Each bite or scratch is an expression of connection and a shared desire for memories, it isn’t a demonstration of power or control. We move like warm fluid smoothly together and as she finishes, and I finish inside of her we fall asleep holding each other. I imagine being back in the womb, this feeling of peace and being content. I know I am safe in this moment, before I fall asleep, even if that safety is as false as Lisa’s was earlier.
* * *
I wake up at some point in the middle of the night. I walk to the bathroom and see that I left my phone on the counter. I see the light on it blinking, someone has either sent me a text or called me. I grab my phone and as I bring it up to my face to see who it was I look in the mirror and see my reflection again. I don’t recognize myself for a few moments and even when I put together the facial features and realize I am looking at myself I don’t know who exactly I am seeing. As I press the button on my phone to call my voice mail I lose that sense of knowing I had looking into the mirror moments ago and I have to look away. Thinking maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.
A voice over the speaker on my phone brings me out of these thoughts. “Hey it’s me.” A woman’s crying voice over the phone. I almost recognize it, though it has been a long time since I last heard it. “Call me when you get this okay?” A pause as she softly cries more. “Bye.”