This is a quiet night she tells nobody about.
She can remember how the pillow lied to her as she heard the door open again. It was four or five o’clock in the morning, and she was drunk and naked between his sheets. His roommate slept about six feet away. He had come back from taking a shower.
Some parts of it blur incongruously. She knows that it was a lot less romantic than it sounds. You must have wanted him, she tells herself. You did, in some respects. He was tall. He was rough. He scared you. You liked that.
There was a rustle as he climbed into bed behind her. She can remember his hands, ravenous and spindly against her cool skin. Why did this want exist? she would wonder, later. She remembers how quiet he could be, all of a sudden, as she let his hands travel all over her. Fear did not freeze her; she let the good memories of him take over in a sleepless, sallow stupor.
On a different occasion, she had said he made her feel discarded, thrown thrown away. He told her she shouldn’t feel that way. It wasn’t like he just got off without any regard for her pleasure, he explained. He didn’t just kick her out afterwards. She let it go.
Her hips murmured against his. She watched them move from the head of the bed. She never turned around to face him or, if she did, it was only for a moment. He slid his fingers inside her, already tired, already worn.
They used to play a game, his game. They took something she had never tried, only imagined, and lay it out in plain sight between the creases of his bedsheets. They did this for weeks before she spent the night; she didn’t realise how much she was giving to him with short, whispered words like “take me,” “please,” “I’m yours.” She only thinks of him when she recalls that sliver of herself.
"I’m going to give you a present," he whispered. She can’t remember whether or not he asked her permission.
Her head swam. Thoughts and concepts and questions coalesced under her brow, all half-baked, the memories she had of him now gone. Her body’s natural response to his presence overwrote her doubt for too long. He moved rhythmically and timelessly, and didn’t think to kiss or touch her, only held her still as he fucked her. The fact that she could hardly feel anything should have been a sign, but she let him keep going.
Early on, he had made excuses about not using protection, talking about how he must have a latex allergy or how the fit was too tight. She remembers scouring convenience stores for days, convincing herself it would change his mind. That night he only managed to give her a yeast infection. She didn’t give him that chance again. The fact that she let it go on for as long as it did, that night and all the nights preceding & following, staggered her. You should have known better. You should have known.
He didn’t finish. She didn’t feel disappointed. She didn’t feel discarded or violated. She didn’t feel anything.
He left after she realised his mind and body weren’t in the same place when they had sex. It was no better or worse than before. She told herself she wouldn’t sleep with someone else unless they were committed, but there were deeper issues that would take weeks to surface. He cannot fathom why she doesn’t want to speak to him.
What marred her later was absence. She receives an alarming amount of male attention. She wonders if they can see it on her face, on her bare arms. On the outside, she does her best to obscure the important parts. Subconsciously, she wishes the things she tells people will shock them enough to leave her alone. Very deep down, she blames herself for the fact that nobody seems to stick around.
Her sneakers kick rocks around the dull city. She walks around on her own a lot. There has still got to be someone out there to listen, she tells herself, but she keeps coming back to the promise of an empty page.