Fireplace
Type
Fiction

the evolution of a very intimate love affair as told by the object of desire

[note: for ethical and/or privacy reasons no names in this account have been altered.]

 

1.
between clients he bench-presses or masturbates. today he sends her a photo of his body donned in new nike activewear. he captions the photo: do u like my waist hip ratio lol. he is a private practice myotherapist five days a week. when she asks about his occupation he says: i fix broken bodies for money. it’s a business.

2.
you are red wine drunk inside your bedroom when you receive his photo. pere ubu’s heart of darkness scratches the air despite the ex-girlfriend chasing sleep across the hall. you return his message with a b-grade photo of laddered stockings and mary janes.

3.
i like the skinny in yr legs.

it is hard to hear that.

r u pro-fat feminist?

i am recovering anorexic.

how long recovered.

two years since last relapse.

well done haha lets meet and get drinks friday.

 

4.
second hand bookshop. nineties denim dress flower blouse stockings and headband wrapped around dark hair with almost blond regrowth. 40mg of diazepam melts under your tongue tasting of last night’s dreamscape. you remove last exit to brooklyn from the shelf and read one line over and over: and even the blood couldn’t be seen from a few feet away.

5.
he finds her sitting on the carpet behind the bookshelf. she startles and stands an inch taller than him. she pays for two books and talks to the assistant about the sexualisation of car crashes or something. the assistant stares at her breasts but she doesn’t notice. the assistant says something about a broken heart and something about karen carpenter.

6.
you discuss cronenberg’s adaptation of crash with the storeowner. he wears a sonic youth t-shirt and you say tunic song for karen is my favourite song. the storeowner has shiny eyes a golden shine. you pocket this.

 

7.
she has downed three wines in forty minutes. she leans against the courtyard wall with both eyes glassy and her head lolled to one side. he says are you stoned or are you vegan. he says can i clean your glasses they are dirty. he rubs them into his sweater and tells her a story about his ex-girlfriend who is a vegan narcissist.

8.
in a semi-dissociated state you turn toes inside your shoes. it is a grounding exercise recommended by your therapist. he buys you expensive pinot noir and you drink quickly not tasting. you look to the necklace ferns behind him. he talks about beach houses with large verandas and group sex with small-bodied asian girls. he says the last girl he dated had a radio style voice but didn’t dig her body. too curvy he says. when silence hovers longer than two seconds he says hmmm good talk.

 

9.
i have a problem with nostalgia.

me too.

no. i can’t feel it.

do you feel remorse?

last time i saw my ex she cried and i laughed.

you have my father’s eyes.

you are drunk.

no. i just recognise that look.

10.
she has not gone to the bathroom in two hours. he has gone three times. he asks her if she needs to pee and she says no i don’t need to pee.

 

11.
the bedroom is a small box inside a large house. unused fireplace. one bookshelf. one tabby cat. double bed you thought would be a king. he walks to the kitchen to retrieve japanese whiskey and two glasses. you scan his book collection. each book is wrapped in plastic.

12.
is this early edition plath?

first edition.

can i remove the plastic?

there is also first edition hemingway.

how beautiful to see this.

i haven’t read any of them. i just think it is important to possess these items.

 

13.
sitting on the bed he pours two whiskeys. she is bent over the bell jar. he hands her a whiskey and says come here. she perches on the bed corner and rolls her neck from side to side. he moves towards her and behind her. he presses his fingers into her shoulders. he massages the skin.

14.
you taste blood underneath your tongue like last time and move away from his hands.

 

15.
i thought you said you were bisexual.

i have never had straight sex.

why?

trauma.

did daddy do a rape or something?

i freak out.

why?

trauma.

naughty daddy. trauma, trauma, trauma. take off your stockings.

my legs are covered in scars.

daddy?

self-harm.

it’s no bother.

16.
you taste blood inside your ears. you manoeuvre under him and feel a vulnerability absent in his kisses. your eyes invert and you see a circle of bluebirds spinning around a face it is your face you are dissociated. he says it is fun to be submissive are you having fun. you watch your skin curl away from his fingers. you say is it. he makes a mess on his wall.

17.
she looks to the ceiling. he asks her what she is looking at and she says i have been fulfilled by something i should always leave empty. he says fuck off.

 

18.
turn over and let me have a good look at you.

i’m tired.

this is my favourite part of the body.

i said stop.

let me fuck your ass.

not today.

19.
in the early morning he licks your face and says do you want to be loved. you say we all want to be loved but it’s a joke. you say you need to leave and he says stay for coffee.

20.
my best friend has a coke problem and it’s killing him.

i’m sorry.

don’t be. it doesn’t affect me. it has nothing to do with me.

he is your friend?

it is an inefficient use of energy to think about things one cannot change.

 

21.
he says i don’t go down on girls because they either taste like good fish or bad fish and i don’t enjoy fish with my sex.

22.
she walks into the pharmacy to buy the morning after pill and he waits outside. when she returns he notices bruising across her throat. he says well if nothing else this is interesting right. she says is it.

 

23.
you uber to his work with three shots of whiskey inside your stomach and no food for over forty-eight hours. your uber driver is friendly with a soft face and belly. you consider staying in the car and asking him out for wine and possibly salad.

24.
she blows him against the wall near the weight machines. he watches her inside the mirror and looks to the silver ring with the black stone on her finger. he says i like the veins in your hands. don’t ever take off that ring he says. he messes up her glasses and she licks him off. he says the sex we have is intimate. she says is it.

25.
between mouthfuls of whiskey he says i want you to dominate me do you feel privileged.

26.
he sits against the bedframe with a wine in his hand. she lies on the floor staring into the ceiling. she says hmm and he says yep. she laughs and doesn’t stop laughing until she starts crying.

27.
near the fireplace you trace patterns across the carpet. you are drunk. he says let me fuck your ass and you say no. he says ass for ass. sex should always be balanced.

28.
i see a therapist every monday to confirm what i already know.

expensive self-validation.

necessary.

would you care if i slept with other boys?

depends. sexual hierarchy.

you mean politics?

if you slept with a cripple i wouldn’t care.

i don’t know any cripples.

it’s a power thing.

is it.

29.
he asks you to visit his mother’s beach house because salt air is purifying and it is oyster and pinot grigio weather. you say i am vegan i only drink red wine and i wear stockings when attending the beach. he bites your ear and says fuck off.

30.
i have never met my father.

my father destroyed me.

naughty daddy.

father destroyed him.

i was depressed as a teenager so i took up juggling.

i took up cutting.

i juggled six hours a day.

i wore a razorblade around my neck and under my school blouse because the compulsion to bleed the body hit hard during algebra.

i juggled until i was no longer depressed.

i was institutionalised.

it’s easy if you want it bad enough.

i attempted suicide twice and i have a penchant for starvation. i fancy a slow death.

do you want me to care about this?

do you?

nope.

i am thirsty again.

31.
leaving the bar he tries holding her hand. she pushes him away and says she has commitment issues triggered by claustrophobia. she says handholding makes her too aware of her physical imposition inside space. he says i didn’t have a decent friendship circle until i was twenty-six because people find me offensive.

32.
you owe me.

i can’t tonight. i am on my cycle.

what are you writing about?

i am documenting.

your food for the day?

our conversations.

you owe me.

this way i remember you after i leave you.

you owe me.

i’m bleeding.

ass for ass.

 

33.
she hears someone say no but it is faint and muffled. she focuses on the bluebirds circling and tastes blood underneath her fingernails.

34.
he finishes and asks her if she wants a suck. she sits on the bed hugging her knees. he notices bruising across her arms and asks her what happened. she says there is a fire inside of me.

35.
in the shower you notice his cleanser shampoo and body wash are all organic and ethical. you throw up and everything white turns red.

 

36.
he drinks beer and watches a rerun of the game in the lounge room. she is asleep on the couch with her wet hair dripping and staining the floral print. he lifts up her skirt and decides to fuck her with an empty wine bottle he finds near the television cabinet. he hits her thighs with the back of his hand. she moans and says stop it. he laughs and says see you love it.

 

37.
i have lost five kilograms since meeting you.

let’s have a threesome.

my mother would hate you.

not a fat girl though. i’m thinking an asian.

every edge feels the same.

and no body hair.

38.
you no longer stomach food and have started counting in threes again. you drink whiskey for breakfast and gnaw on diazepam between mouthfuls. you tell yourself chaos is okay if it’s on purpose. he says i have never been so sexually fulfilled in my life. he pinches your thighs and says i like these.

 

39.
he picks her up after work and she doesn’t notice his new haircut. she grins wide and rubs her knees over and over. he observes the bruising on her thighs and asks her if she is drunk. she says something about capital punishment in texas and how most people feel remorse before electrocution. she says today i read three hundred final statements issued by inmates in their final minutes of life. he asks her of the appeal and she pauses and laughs and says i don’t know.

40.
she lets him hang himself off her glasses. he says you have perfected your hand and mouth coordination. she shrugs and says sex is only a small flirtation with death. it’s no bother.

41.
she doesn’t stay the night. she says her desires are unable to be consummated through sexual activity alone. he tells her she is fucking crazy.

42.
IS THIS DESIRE: you write and wait for an answer.

 

 

 

Image: Fireplace / flickr

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Jessie Berry-Porter writes non-fiction, poetry, non-fiction poetry and also other things. She spends too much time quitting caffeine and flower pressing.

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