I once met a man who would leave me right at the edge of myself and God. I would meet him many times. He would meet me at different times, leave me in the same place, in smaller pieces, in bigger phoenixes.
I was an orphan of my own making. Furtive wolf obsessed with the phases of the moon and moral turpitude. I pictured myself thinner than I was. A walking mugshot of the night I almost drown in four loko, battery acid, an impulsive storm echoing “die.” I wore that broken sternum with pride and I took for granted every hour of my life.
Mostly wet, I had a shaved head to call my own and very little else. I had been staying on a friend’s couch most nights and with my parents when they had me. My room was gone but I had a bed in the den and a shower curtain for privacy. That’s where my cat was. I had a part time job, two in fact, a little bit of change,always something to smoke and drink, and not much space for self containment. I drank wine from a plastic cup that night with my name in block letters so he knew who I was. I met him sometime early.
Creeping to the bathroom to retrieve the water bottle from my purse, he walked towards me held the tender inside of my elbow to ask me to come outside when I was out. “Yes.” Shut the door. Shakily, unscrewed the top and licked the bit of spilled drops from the floor. Chugged what felt like my own hot blood. It was a deep swallow and I shivered a little, tried not to vomit and let that first rush of obsolescence wash over me in a haze of dejected self preservation. Stayed on that linoleum bed, cooling my sour veins, before I heard boots tapping to the door. Momentarily collapsing and grateful for the nap, I remembered my whimper of a “yes.” I could feel myself slur a hold on and felt a minor pang of deep regret for this moment’s conception. And the future it would bring.
I was staring at the tops of my fishnets. Large chunks were missing. My shoes were still on but one half of my stocking had rolled down to my low thigh, just above the knee. Stretched my calf before I stood up to roll it up knowing it was fruitless. Stockings were made to be draped over the edge of the headboard, not to be worn. I felt unsexy. They fell down once I stood up. I felt fat again. Spine heavy, I checked my posture and used my sleeve to blot the burgundy from my mouth. My dress was black so it didn’t show. The mirror was smudged with handprints but my eyeliner looked ok. I smiled so teeth showed. Clownish and primal: murder red gums like the lioness finally got her gazelle. I took a drink from the faucet and spit, watched the pink drool from my mouth hang idly in the air before I grabbed it, threw it in the sink. Rinsed my hand, mouth. Wiped my hands on my skirt. Stood tall for a moment. I was bald and crooked.
“I should have bought gum.”
Crumbled, I lit a cigarette on the fire escape. He said I reminded him of Marla Singer. They always fetishized me that way. He reminded me of most every guy I’ve ever known riding the erotic coattails of my self destruction never bothering to cultivate their own. Cowards they all were. It took courage to destroy your life. He asked me to dinner, wanted to get to know me some. I stood on my pedestal, looked down at him. My stockings were up and my eyes were unfocused. I was hungry for something more than this. He wore a blue button up and muted identity, but also a permeating warmth. I told him he would have to call me sometime, maybe we could work it out but
“ I might be going to jail on Thursday.”