I wanted to fuck god or I wanted to fuck something else that wanted me on my knees, looking up. The pallor of his skin was all wrong, clouded. I tongued bite marks on the insides of my cheeks, dry sockets sucking spit. Sweat dappled his cheeks. Light from the windshield on half his face. Hollow purple skin beneath his eyes. He pushed his hands against the girl in the backseat, unbuttoned her denim shorts. I watched from the front seat, his eyes with the nervousness of a dying race in a burning empire.
Sometimes I’d open my laptop just to watch me fuck myself. I wanted to know the things he did—I wanted to know about the anger, the DUI. I was curious how the therapist felt about him. I wondered what he told the therapist about my eyes. He thought they were green. I didn’t feel the need to correct him. I could be a new person. Feel the hurt drop off like dead skin.
When you meet the person who made you like this and think
You’re the reason I am like this
Before him, I was a small mammal with many teeth. After him, there were many things I didn’t do because of fear. I was afraid of what someone might say or how they might treat me. I liked thinking about the time before because it was the last time I went after what I wanted.
Everyone I’d ever been with loved me deeply. I guess I’d always been privileged in that way.
In the backseat, her body wrung out with anxiety, her feet made marks against the passenger window. He pushed her panties aside with his fingers, an infected scab on his middle knuckle, sucked her tongue into his mouth. Probably I was always waiting on men.
Body burned inside, a dry heat.
I turned around and looked away. Out of the front windshield was field and moss, stone buildings in the distance, the sound of a train. I shouldn’t have come here, for all the reasons I knew. I couldn’t stay. It wasn’t permanent. When the train first pulled in to the station, I walked until I came to the fascia of the building. The glow like a wasp in my vision. I saw them standing at the other side of the platform. I thought I could really end it in front of the train. There was a new wanting, a waning of what was possible but is no longer. I didn’t want to be the kind of girl old men hit on, approachable to men who spent sad hours making bad paintings, expecting them to sell.
Before the station, I had watched the greenery pass from the train window and realized that there may never be growth or change in E., and that perhaps this permanent fixture of her misery is something that was made for me. This was not where I belonged. I could never leave her for all of the misery I felt, her misery, which I took inside my mouth and sucked the grit down to a hardened pearl. She had said once she was glad for this. That someone could see her pain. If we re-arranged the molecules and positioned ourselves in exactly the same place at exactly the same time at the very moment before our meeting, would we choose the same path? How you know fate is real, yes. That free will is a lie. Every molecule will do as every molecule does. You cannot change it. This was how I understood her.
We made eye contact. Me and the handsome man. The girl’s feet were still at his shoulders, left foot on left shoulder, right on right. I had wanted to say beautiful but I didn’t. I had reserved a word like beautiful for E. only and it felt feminine to say of someone so masculine but also it was true. He was beautiful in a way that terror is beautiful; there was a thrilling shine to his eyes. His hand at the back of my neck where I felt my heart beating. The shroud of his open fist around my mouth. He had said something about how much he loved the way I looked— the way my eyes looked to the side and then up, the way my eyelashes feathered; how innocent he said I seemed. There was that shine again and I thought it was because it was novelty, how long can he look at me make the same face and still find it so exciting? I pulled out my phone, the camera lens a distraction. I pulled out my tongue, my longing for him a hot knife over an open wound.
There was that shine again. Again, there was that shine.
About the Author
Elle Nash is the author of the novel Animals Eat Each Other (Dzanc Books), which was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a ‘complex, impressive exploration of obsession and desire.’ Her short stories and essays appear in Guernica, The Nervous Breakdown, Literary Hub, The Fanzine, Volume 1 Brooklyn, New York Tyrant and elsewhere. She is a founding editor of Witch Craft Magazine and a fiction editor at Hobart Pulp.