Posts in Prose
Working 9 to 5

Age 21. New York City.

I remember I sat on the cold, piss-covered tile of the men’s bathroom holding on to a moist rail above my head, recuperating from soreness that heated my neck, my thighs.

Perhaps he had been too rough with me. Perhaps I had not deserved the reckless banging, his heavy, calloused hand at my throat affixing me to the grainy film along the tiled wall as I stood compliant but alarmed. (I’d said ‘affix’ in my mind, confused it, however applicable, with ‘asphyxiation.’ To die engorged with an angry cock and a fake, gold watch ticking impatiently beneath my chin seemed less than honorable.)

We were strangers, all of the men then, strangers, and I expected nothing more, nothing less from them.

He hurried as most men with little regard for the women they pollute do. He held his head down as he fumbled with the tarnished silver buckle of his belt and shoved my legs apart with one bent and jabbing knee. The erratic undoing, unzipping. The upward yank of my ripped t-shirt, one large palm grabbing at the full weight of my breast, mashing the flesh up and back, scissoring the nipple between spread fingers.

The back of my head ached. Knock, knock, knock with the thudding beat from the club outside the bathroom door, where sweaty bodies convulsed and collapsed in rhythmic, intoxicated motion, the mixed allure of indulgence and pain. Each violent surge of his body into mine strengthened his grip on my throat. Fingers pressed deeper, palm pressed deeper. His muscled arm, mass. My throat constricted. Gasp the air. Push it down.

My limp compliance. My balance on one leg, one high-heeled foot. How he enjoyed this! I can see him even now. Look at his grooved brow, creased with concentration. Look at the gutters formed within the rolling folds of his forehead. His bloodless lips pulled tight across stained teeth as he came inside me, nostrils flared with the rushed gusts of completion, a job well done.

Two, maybe three minutes had passed between his solicitation and clean escape, and yet I knew the cowlick in the center of his thinning blond head spun clockwise. The intimacy in this information sent me to a place far from my destructive present. How his mother must have fretted over the cowlick’s prominence. How she must have wet the defiant hairs before a bathroom mirror and combed them flat. Cursed as they sprung back stiff, united, toward the light.

Farragut North Station | Connecticut and K

We reunite by accident on the street after nearly eight years. You at your end of the sidewalk and me at mine, waiting to stomp to work through the crosswalk in our opposing herds. I see you first. Shout that old nickname and you look up from your phone, nostalgia snatching you in its alluring grip.

The light changes. We meet in the middle of Connecticut Ave, stop face-to-face. Car radios mumble, (NPR), engines groan with impatience. Pedestrians shove on, pissed. The distance between past and present: softer bellies and arms. Fine lines carved by all we hoped for and did not become. Your laugh is the same. You are the same. The smooth scar on your jaw curved like a fishing hook. My fingers dance in my pockets, desperate to run across it, and you point out a cherry blossom tree spreading a blanket of shade across the pavement. “They’re your favorite,” you say. You remember.

The traffic light turns yellow, swings heavy in the breeze. Rushing, rushing. Shoulders bump, elbows bruise. Family? Yes. You? Of course. We will get them together. Your wife and kids, my husband and kids. I agree, it’s a date, though we have set no date, and as your back begins east and mine heads west, out of nowhere I still love you- what is time?