See this: a bare apartment, student class. No curtains or shades, sulfurous streetlight spills into the open windows blank as dumb eyes. No furniture, open bottles of beer sit on an upturned carton. There is the heavy bottomed twang of fresh paint. To the east a bedroom or three, to the west the kitchen and the bathroom. The echo of emptiness is damped only by that student ubiquitous indoor/outdoor carpeting, oranger yet in this sulfur light.
I’m young. Seventeen? Eighteen? It’s the very tail end of the summer; the days are warm but the nights are apple crisp, and school is starting in a week. The fair is just down the road from this apartment, and if I close my eyes and concentrate I can smell the maple cotton candy, the cow plop, the Zipper-induced vomit. I can hear the carnies’ calls. Almost.
I’m naked. So is the boy sprawled on the carpet next to me. It’s his apartment, here in Winooski, and he soon starts up school again at this Catholic college that his apartment abuts. I don’t really know him. I don’t really remember him. He has no name, no face now. He is an assortment of Sasha-doll brown limbs, a casual air of disregard for me, an ambient thrill of the masculine unknown and unattainable.
We fucked, this nameless faceless boy and I. I guess I probably faked an orgasm—it was before I learned how to come with someone else. I guess that I endeavored to perform, in all senses of the word. I guess I saw what I was doing in disengaged cinematic terms and that what I was doing was trying very, very hard to be very, very good.
I didn’t have a whole lot of understanding of my pleasure in those days. I didn’t really see how any man was going to be able to finesse the intricate steps to orgasm that I had mastered myself. I couldn’t relax. I didn’t really feel. I performed like a contestant and I didn’t understand what I was doing.
Like a trained bear, like a child actor, I found my pleasure more in the audience response than in my own enjoyment.
Except that occasionally, I stumbled upon it, this pleasure, and I wondered in it.
So we fucked, and I performed, and then I sashayed off to the bathroom, acutely aware of my naked body, and hoping his eyes were on it and were admiring, walking that way as if they were and he was. (He probably had them closed. He probably was examining his nails. Or thinking about how he could fit in his couch, stereo, street-sign coffee table, and still have room for the keg.)
The bathroom was bare as the cupboard and the light in there was that buzzing bluewhite fluorescence. I peed, wiped myself, flushed the toilet, and then I paused before the mirror, as I always did.
(As I used to do.)
In the mirror, I saw my hair in wanton disarrangement, twisted and turned around. I saw my end-of-the-summer tan skin, my bottle-green eyes, the post-sex slack of my skin, that endorphin sheen. Around my mouth, though, were flakes of red.
Red smears around my face, my mouth, even my nose, like I’d been transported from some raw meat group gorge in some Neanderthal cave to this 80’s suburban bathroom and I knew not where or how or why. I looked feral.
And I liked it. I liked the way I looked, covered in my own blood in that the weird sci-fi light, the nameless boy’s semen dripping out of my pussy, the distant sound of traffic and the dropping echo of the rooms themselves.
Our fucking had brought on my period, unbeknownst to me. We had fucked and I had sucked his cock and then we’d fucked more and I’d probably sucked more, and in all this to-ing and fro-ing my blood had flowed, smeared, moved, covered my mouth like I was a cannibal.
And I guess in a way, I was. And I liked it.
I have found I have stumbled, faltered, lurched toward my sexual pleasures. They have taken me unawares, often, blindsided me and found me in the dark, and only later in some cold light do I become aware of them. This moment, this blood/sex/spit/semen/pussy/mouth moment, was one of those surprises.
I was fortunate that this boy didn’t freak out. He laughed at the blood, trundled off to the bathroom and washed his dick. He could not have cared less. He could have been a dick, rather than just pragmatically cleaned his. He could have made me feel badly about liking my blood; he didn’t.
In his response, he could have presented another obstacle for me on my way to finding pleasure. He didn’t.
But then maybe he liked it, even if he didn’t know it yet himself.
Thank you, KtotheE, for spurring this memory.