9.12 / December 2014

The Lid

It was like he wanted to own you from the inside out. He fingered you in the front seat of his truck all the way from the nursing home to the duplex. He was waiting for you when you got off work. Placed his hand on the small of your back and led you to your mattress on the floor by the back door, saying a woman is the most beautiful thing in the world. Don’t you know that?

Thing. Thing. Thing.

This is good. This is what you’re good at. What you were made for.

His mouth tasted like barbeque, a combo of vinegar, sugar, tomatoes, and smoke. You looked up into the gray sky of his eyes. Who is this? The lid? An airy cap screwed down? Burrowed your head in his chest as he grabbed your knees, spreading them. Guided you onto his vertical self, his powerful potter’s hands on your backside, moving you where he wanted you to be.

Thing. Thing. Thing. Under him in a curve, tilted to receive.

Pivoting into a position he plunged deeper and deeper until you were fastened, covered and fastened. Weighed down. Hooked to his body and held, half there with him and half watching the scene from afar, hypnotized by daylight shadows flickering over his moving ass.

Sweetmeat, he whispered. Talked in your ear as he dragged you thudding like a toy across the bed onto the hard wooden floor. Thumbs and nipples and arms and legs encircled. He made the most of fitting well; you focused on acting like you knew what you were doing.

Thing. Thing. Thing.

In defiance for so long, saved by that defiance, afraid to be weak and afraid to be strong—afraid to be in the moment. Calculated denial your closest friend. You weren’t alone, because you had a roommate and a job. You weren’t poor, because you had student loans and a full time job. You weren’t unloved. You were an artist, meant to explore, to stumble alone through life. That’s what you told yourself.

Because that’s how you’d survived.

Now you held on to the warmth of him, out of your head, kissed him back and together, together, you moved like fluid racing through tubes attached to machines hooked up to save a loved one’s life. You couldn’t feel yourself apart from him, which way was up or even ahead from behind. After a while all you could hear was your own whimpering and that seemed far away.

When he left for work you watched him walk to his truck and not look back. You closed the door and found a place to sit. Something was missing and you longed for it. Too early to go to work and too tired to think, you changed the sheets and crawled back in. Books in stacks by the bed in an old quiet house. People leave, like it or not. Your father always said it was minor, not a problem, nothing to cry about, nothing to talk about, in fact, he told you to stop whining, be quiet, to shut the fuck up.

Adieux, your roommate would say. Bloom and be. Amour fati. No big deal. That’s how you usually felt too. But this was different. You were bereft. Not because you wanted him to stay or were afraid he’d never return. No. You knew he would return.

Like a what? Like a boyfriend? No.

Like a problem you couldn’t solve—like a father.

After earning an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in fine art Chris J. Rice stayed in Los Angeles to write novels. So far her writing has appeared in Necessary Fiction.
9.12 / December 2014