I had never wailed before — bellows rising from my gut, the need to expel. My body stayed folded in two. My face always wet. My breathing heavy. The mantra How is this my life? swirling in my head.
I thought about dramatic endings: leaving a note with hurried ink about how me and this baby would be better off without him, making a list of all the men I had fucked that would have celebrated the news of this child and tacking it on the fridge before leaving, about getting in my car and driving away, away, away.
What finally swayed me was one sentence he mustered between tears as he lay curled up in my lap, “Please, please, please don’t make me be a shitty father again.”
The morning came and I was a bitch. I slammed doors, avoided eye contact… I wanted him to be more torn, more hesitant, more fucking angry, more . . . something. But he was focused and headstrong instead.
I glared at him the entire way to the clinic. We fought as he parked the car. He slammed the door, stomped to the curb, then came back to apologize. He promised he would never leave me.
“Let’s just get it over with,” I said.
It was written in several different places in the after procedure instructions, ‘no intercourse for 72 hours.’ But by day two fucking seemed to be the only thing that sounded right. So we did. He came home later to find me hysterical on the bedroom floor. I had bled all over my office chair and had to leave rushed, everything behind me red and wet.
For the next few weeks he coddled me. He made me tea, did the dishes, watched countless episodes of Law and Order. I quickly grew tired of being the sad, sick wife, wanted to get out and move on. But I was ashamed; afraid I would blurt out my secret to strangers in public places. To the Caldean man who ran the corner store where I always got my Black and Milds. To my mother. To my co-worker who was like a sister. I began to venture out, but only with him. There was comfort knowing that someone would understand if I suddenly walked out of a room.
We are artists and he began making plans for “us.”
He wanted to work on a project together. Collaborate. I wondered if this drive to create together was a thoughtful gesture, a hope of a new future. Regardless, it felt boorish. I was empty of creativity. I couldn’t be a source of any origin. I had just intentionally forfeited that role, couldn’t he see that?
Still, I tried to think of witty and unusual concepts. I tried to act excited about his potential projects. He was an idea machine. He scribbled words and scratched out diagrams on the back of the junk mail fanned out across our bed, on the corners of scraps of paper, in small pages ripped from his cracked moleskin journal. His inventions littered the entire house. They were everywhere I turned: pinned to the walls, in-between pages of my books, stacked around our bed, etched into the steam on the mirror after my showers, on the dining room table.
I was drowning in his genius.
I finally confessed I had nothing. No artistic insight, no new dimension. I told him to move on without me.
“I’ll catch up,” I promised.
Months later, after he left me for three days and two nights with nothing but a note saying he was leaving, we were in the shower. We had just fucked – one of those fucks that’s power-packed with such intense insecurity you doubt it’s even happening – and I said, “Maybe we should try to do a project again, make art together.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “We’ll see.”
Now, what I miss about him coming inside me is not that explosive moment when two people mutually climax – eyes burrowed into each other so as to not miss even a split second.
What I miss are the things that took place in the after-moment. He used to stay inside me after he came and allow himself to ease out. He’d burrow his head in-between my shoulder and face. I miss his warm, heaving breaths crawling down the crevice of my neck. I miss the small, salty river of sweat that would run from his forehead to my face. I miss his chubby lips hovering over my collarbone, constantly almost kissing me.
He pulls out quickly, now, with a frenetic energy, and sprays himself all over my wide belly. He falls off to the side, and motions for me to come close. He kisses me and holds me and tells me he loves me, but I still long for his mass to cover me, his gross frame to eclipse my own.
Jett is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry living in California.