The 6th.

The fear tails me, and with each step, I’m looking over my shoulder. For months, I have had a game plan and 4,000 miles away from me, the voices of the world are combining with mine to determine the fate of our country. It is November 6th and I am standing in the middle of a science museum. The Connection and I are learning about the mating habits of animals. All animals, as we are concurrently engaging in our own mating habits as we skirt around carefully taxidermied displays of foxes knotted to each other at the hind, the bright plumage of aroused guineafowl and tinny voices of cardinals ring out from telephones mounted to walls.

On a small television screen, Isabelle Rosselini, dressed in a snail costume, explains with the utmost of languid inflection how snails require intense pain to procreate. In the dark, The Connection’s eyes flash at me from behind a wall of beetles. I can tell we are thinking the same thing.

If Romney wins, I will have to stay in France, there is no question of it. A female hyena, twice the size of her male mate, leers at us from behind a glass enclosure, frozen in arousal. I can’t go back if I don’t have anything to go back to. There are ballots stuffed in the box behind me. What is love, it asks? I do not write anything down. Instead, I follow The Connection into a dark room filled with stars. She pushes me against  the wall and kisses me in an alcove, bracketed by highlighters and phosphorescence. If this is love, what do I have to lose?

The ballots in the box glow in the back of my mind. The fate of the world is at stake and all I can think about are the smooth contours of her lips against mine, her tongue probing, the twitch of my muscles drawing out the moment. We pass rats in cages, magnets, large weights on chains and throngs of children and families. I do not want the day to end because waking up seems impossibly difficult, thinking about the morning. As the sky darkens, we walk home. We eat fries for dinner and it feels like our last day on earth as free women. Simple pleasures like museum dates and holding hands and sharing milkshakes are heightened, almost engorged with luxury as the numbers rise.

We toast to the end—or is it the continuation? of a beautiful something with two Xanax, two Ambien, chased with the dregs of last night’s oxidized wine. She fucks me with a savage rage funneled from the news reports and hypotheses. She presses the tip of a pair of scissors into the hollow of my throat. I can feel the skin indent, swelling plush around it as I gaze upon her and we bit and scratched, inflicting the most mutual damage that we could before we descend into terror as if it was the end of the world. For all we knew, it could have been. With the fate that could meet us come the morn, you’d want a taste of the inevitable, too. What we do not know scares us and we fall into a tangled, terrified sleep but we do not stir once our eyelids wrench shut.

In the morning, our man has won.

I am exhausted, but afraid that the moment my eyes close, it will be exposed as a dream. I focus my sight toward The Connection. She is wearing my red t-shirt, mascara smeared across her eyes, and she is crying and holding me, her body warm and supple against the bruises on my chest and neck. She is holding me like she will never let me go, her fingers imprinting deep upon my skin. It is a bright, white morning and although France cannot register it, we are safe at last and we can let out a sigh of relief, shake off the worries that have been dogging us and start anew, holding hands down the stairs and loving as hard as we can. Going back doesn’t seem as insurmountable now that we’ve weathered the worst. Something had shifted in my step. I had climbed to the top of a winding staircase of beauty and there was no way I would ever see things from the ground again. I watched her descend and I leaped down behind her, following her jasmine and mint all the way down.

-C.

The divorce of thought.

Camionneuse is loved, she knows, but when she touches herself, she is alone in the dark.

The thoughts that coax her arousal are fleeting and sudden, the flutter of eyelashes on a cheek, the rush of sensation and prickle of pain on yielding, white jelly thighs, firm with fear. When she is alone she hangs on for dear life, for alone, she shoulders the entirety of her orgasm, the brief extent of her beautiful agony.

Wholeness makes her shudder, connection causes her to come in gaping, gasping spurts.

The hot heat of hands holding.

Fingers down throats down bodies down on knees, bended and looking toward the sky lilywhite necks in prayer beseeching.

Heads banging, minds clanging, grocery lists with the handwriting of two pens.

She trusts that the world is not so big that it will swallow the scrape of smooth teeth on the inside of her cheek, that the insistent probing and pushing on her clitoris is a significant throe of energy and love. She trusts and she turns off the light and closes the door. Damn the distance, damn the people, damn the statutes thick and engorged and immortalized in books that wrench them apart.

She swallows some of that good love stuff, that sweet and stiff affection, and it drips in sticky strips down her skin settles in her clavicle, the bell-hollow that bangs against the headboard when she hangs on for dear life and dips her chin over the edge. Work ebbs from her spine and she sinks into the solidity of direction, The Connection, her mind erect and assuming perfection. Let Chapter 208 show you where you can crane your fingers to make her bubble and moan. Fuck the loopholes of Section 24, eat your mensa and your thoro and fall asleep in my arms.

God, it’s like ripping the wound open with her own bitten nails again, five years old and oily in the bottom of her belly, comingled with the full, pregnant contentment she feels every time there is a “bing!” at her side. She loves me, the law loves them not, it whispers in her ear. The daughter becomes the divorce, and the two counterbalance and negate each other. So she shall go in light on her feet, so shall she leave dragging, but what awaits on the other side beacons her with light, love, and the pursuit of beauty in the shade.

-C.

Zealousness!

Is it normal to feel this good?

For all intents and purposes, my case file is miserable on paper. Displaced American with European travel tendencies and apathetic sneer, 4,000 miles away from the twin beat of her heart and shivering hand-holding companion of the evening and afternoon sleeps on an air mattress, alone. 40-hour work week. Trips on curbs, glares at strangers, eats peanut butter M&M’s for dinner. Reevaluate in four months, it says.

But I can’t stop grinning. My true delight belies the dust of mild annoyance that I typically wear, a normally impenetrable barrier, but now, who knows? Because, my dears, no matter where I slough or sigh, the world can tell that it is unequivocally, without a doubt obvious, and completely, entirely, heart-stoppingly, case-closed-and shut clear that I am down for the count and madly in love with The Connection.

And I am content to stay that way for a damned long time.

Camionneuse donned her legal briefs (and plaid briefs, if you must know) for her latest and greatest hustle, today. Braving the chill and frozen bodies of students lost on their way to the dining hall, your faithful narrator charmed the world and embarked on a new adventure in zealousness. How much trouble said zealousness will get her into is yet to be determined, but the hours are long and the girl is hungry for the world.

-C.

Up in the Air.

I am sitting on the bed and she is practicing.

We have fucked, we have cried, we have talked, and now, she is ignoring me, going through papers and getting accustomed to the silence of it all. Her demeanor is up in the air—she is quiet enough to keep me curious.

It nearly breaks my heart, because through this veneer of dim cigarette smoke and leftover steam from her shower, I can feel her sadness weakly beating in my sweaty palms and dry cheeks. We should be dead from all the little deaths we gave to each other, and yet we thrive to see another sleepless morning. She is closed off, downcast, small in my hands and soft.

I am not able to grasp that for this time, I cannot hold her.

Cannot gaze upon her and let the roar of the Metro fill the space in my body with sound and speed.

I cannot woo her, confuse her, hear her laugh and sip the last of her coffee.

I am unaccustomed to this and dumb to the sensation of such pure, strange adoration. She suffuses me with everything that I want, her name candy on my lips. The Connection is daring, but she challenges me. She rises, and I fall to the occasion. She is whiplash on my brain, cocaine for the senses. Why did I sob? Because I fell. It was a fast descent from lovemaking, from meeting her eyes—“please, don’t hate me!” to a hard, quick fuck.

As much of her as I can take within me, somehow, I feel myself craving more, the more she makes me work for every breath-sucking pulse through my wracked body. She doesn’t stop until she knows I cannot continue. Her fervor is palpable, it rushes clammy through my skin and chills me with the knowledge that I needed this so, so much, and she knew.

“Please, don’t hate me.”

I plead this with my eyes and with my lips as I writhe beneath her. I am truly an animal, and my heart is beating, trapped and small, because I truly do not know what she will say when I have laid myself bare beneath her.

“I love you so much,” she says, and her fist connects with my lower lip. Explosion. I find blood, I see stars, I cry and I cry and I cry and until she withdraws, I just can’t stop because I don’t want to go.

So, late at night, after all is said and done, it is an unexpectedly gruesome shudder that goes through my body when I think of leaving tomorrow, turning my shoulder and checking my bags. So much of what I thought to be firm on the ground was really up in the air and so, shall I be there, my feet quaking and my mind cool.

-C.

Gaslights and Fog (Tanger, III)

We wake up tangled on the third day, twisted like corpses in the tight notches of the hospital corners. I have had a restless night with dreamy vignettes and fell asleep locked and tense, remembering, vaguely, her voice singing in my ear to coax my brain to relax, ease up, let go.

When I rise, somewhat jerkily and abruptly, the sun streams in through the French windows, dotted with stars and colored glass, my knee a brilliant splash of green-blue on red thighs, and I breathe. The budgies and canary flutter outside the window in their cages, and while The Connection sleeps, I peek outside. A wild bird is hovering outside the cages, causing a flurry of activity, and I watch them for a little while. It aches my heart to feel and fall so easily for it all, the terrifying knowledge that I could just as simply slip into a life in Tangier as Paris or as Amsterdam, that no one place feels truly perfect. The flip side is that it will never be imperfect, that I can spend my whole life wandering and end up on top.

On Passover, we duly intone our roles as wandering Arameans, we emphasize the “I” and the “was” and the “wandering” and the “Aramean” each word repeated and flexed around its pivot to work our jaws through whatever the real meaning holds—that we are still wandering, that we were, and that we will not admit that we are lost.

With this in mind, I crouch on the edge of the bed a few moments longer and watch her sleep, and soon, the crystalline perfection of the moment shifts and we get ready for breakfast and another long day. The Connection has caught my fever and I have regained my wanderlust. She is tired and congested, so we spend our morning at the breakfast table and perched at a café outside the souk, clutching our hot mugs of mint tea, meaty and strong and sweet.

We wander, we relax, we discover that our hammam date is canceled. Tant pis, c’est la vie, forced syllables of affection as the realization occurs that three days will either make or break us, but we are still holding hands and our nerve hasn’t faded, so after that, we’ll have to see what the world can bring. It is an endless, dizzying day of sun and amorphous schedules and I am lost in the briefness of such a familiar place. In the late of the afternoon, with the sun streaming in, the riad loses power once more, and we take advantage of this temporary plunge into darkness to shut the door and linger in the silence of our sex. Today, she is unstoppable, tomorrow, we will be in flight.

But now, I try to remind myself, a jerk around my throat, she is mine, and the anxiety ebbs for me to focus on the rest. The louvers cracked, a pane of sunlight scorches down her body, a single pixel of a line of a tooth and a sneer and a nail crushing skin. I zone in on this thin crack of light in a grey-toned room.

“You are a filthy, dirty slut.” What was once a question is just a statement, and I blanket myself in how true and stark it is in my ear. She is at the nape of my neck, a knee in between my shoulder blades, and I sink into that feeling. For me, the submission is just another way to translate feelings, to avoid getting bogged down by malentendre. To let her see me at my most physically, mentally vulnerable is a struggle, but one that I can easily express by literally giving her the control to do so. In its temporary, exaggerated nature, I can communicate so much more than merely attempting to scratch that inward battle with clunky witticisms.

She works her big toe into my gaping, full lips and I suck around her, the skin full and taut and persistent, jamming inside of my mouth. I feel her bend at the knee and stretch and extend, her other toe probing in between my thighs. Instinctively, I freeze. I have never played like this before. It toes the line (so to speak) of my curiosity with feet, with her feet, and experience with worshipping her body. But she is giving me her pleasure, letting me know that she knows this intrigues me as she slowly extends her ankle, pressing her toes deeper into my pussy. She abandons words and fixes me with a gaze. I love how she looks at me, how her concern can shift to cruelty as she pleases. When she stares like that, I find that I can hardly meet her eyes, so deep and abiding is the vulnerability I shed for her. But when I do look up, all I see is love.

As she moves her legs, she is further away from me, impossible to touch. I am pushed against the green, rusted headboard of the bed paralyzed with lust. She wriggles her toes further and I can feel myself get wet, stiffen at first and relax to the touch. I moan into the cool fabric of the pillow and she pushes further. I am sucking on her toes again, but she is harder, going faster. My jaw stretches to fit her foot and I can feel myself drooling down my chin, my eyes pressed closed and my pussy so, so wet. Being fucked by her is dynamic and time-stopping, like drawing a rose-scented bath and putting on Steely Dan, and then throwing a toaster in for kicks. She is an electrifying presence and in her curves, her softness, is a core of iron determination.

That little shift can come at me like a wave, or it can be as simple as a small push. Today, it is when she looks at me and shapes her lips around that syllable, that toothy, hissed punctuated slap of a word, “Slut!” and I am gone and away, clenching around her toes and hand around my throat, my tongue velvet thick in my mouth as I swallow my orgasm so that the world does not hear my euphoria, my fear.

We breathe heavily, in tandem, in the dark.

The lights and radio flicker on shortly after.

In a matter of minutes, we are sitting on the balcony of yet another abandoned gilt-choked luxury hotel, gin and tonics and Moroccan beer ice-cold and sweating in our palms. It is sunset, the sky pink-edged with the beginnings of a storm in the western corner encroaching, and the sweet call to prayer echoes across the sky, neverending, surrounds me like the static comfort of an endless radio.

“I can’t take your jacket with me,” she says, sipping the head off her beer. “I’ll miss you too much and wear out the sleeves.” She leans in closely, confiding in me secrets I can already predict. “When I need to smell you, I will walk into a church and close my eyes.” Secrets and incense and absinthe and sinless, godless women in the middle of the night makes me believe that a church would be perfect.

In any event, I give her my coat.

We are snide, but we are close. We place bets and move our chairs closer, sneak food into the overpriced bar and fight for the last blanched almond the waiter places down. Love me, she says, lavish me, fuck me, have my babies, pay for everything, she opens herself up and drops the key down my throat. The power to seize it all rests on my tongue, metallic and sweet, and for a moment, my mouth waters with the power to swallow. She is so very, very tempting, and I am so, strangely small.

When we leave, the sky is dark, and our glasses still sweating with the touch of our lips and the brush of our fingerprints disappearing into the night.

-C.

Fearsome, burdensome.

It is a full-on war and we are steeling ourselves with banter to arm and lob. It is how we defend ourselves against ourselves and for ourselves and the more we can hurl it away, the less it explodes in our hearts. So over kebab, and a walk, and pastries in a café, we are a little meaner to each other than the situation calls for. The slap of my hand on her ass, five-fingered gluttony blooming red echoes the words she scribbles in her journal and the twinkle in her eye when she says,

“You don’t exist, I wrote you.” And in all honesty, she did, but she has given a life and breath to her character that has necromanced and danced it to a shivering existence. The personal ad she wrote to herself and squirreled away manifested itself in living, breathing Technicolor frayed around the edges and heaving breaths when it climbs too many stairs. This is me and I worry that she may not want what she has because it’s better in theory and practice. So, I banter back. I ask her personal, probing questions neither polite nor kind and she answers them. When they are too cruel she shuts down and asks me some, though they falter, though I see her look into my eyes with vulnerability and I reveal my insecurities like some sort of emotional James Bond villain. I have 48 hours left in Paris.

Our operas are three-act condensed versions of real issues and they go like this: I opine on my knees and tell her I love her—I worry I am effusive—she calls it attentive, and I leave it be. She asks me about commitment—we argue its definition—I worry that she’s scared, she worries that I’m scared. Arias of apathy, crescendos of the cries of kids whose parents still pay their cell phone bills. Wanting the same thing allows us to arrive at the same conclusion, though perhaps with different paths of attraction, connections via Paris, Amsterdam, Tangier, DC, Seattle, and back again neverending.

With my little questions, I ask and demand and pretend that I am worse than my beating heart implies. I envision her curling around my arm instinctively like I’d punched her and her reflex was frozen in time. I am no worse off than the clowns of Woody Allen films, the periods at the end of sentences, the characters who learn lessons at the end of things and even the ones who do not. I am suspended and beguiled by this dream-world, this lull in my life where money doesn’t matter and only my feelings and thoughts need to be written up and exhaustively documented and you can tell from the smile on my face and the bounce in my step that I love love love every minute of it and you want to be me, but only for that moment.

Because you know, and I know, that when the wheels hit the ground back home, I will be forced to rub my nose in it all, force my face to the ground and confront the coldness that running away held off. My grandmother is dead, my relationship is finished, I am constantly transitory, and I do not know what I will be doing come my next birthday. I am crying because my face is tingling at the fact, anticipating a smack of reality and indifference that is hard to confront.

So when she really slaps me in the face, an open-handed, wholehearted slap with all of her energy and fear, the backhand of a girl whose parents paid for tennis lessons, I am breathless with lust and relief. I cry out for more and she drives her foot into my cunt, her fist into my jaw, connections, so many, and I am touching myself with every last bit of care that I can hope for, fueling it back around and inside and to myself before I give it away. This care, this is mine and I will swallow it whole before I have to relinquish it, and I come and cry and cry until I am finished. Shortly after, we get up and leave, and shut the door for the sun to shine in.

-C.

Gaslights and Fog (Tanger, II)

Our window is blanketed by a square bruise of purple and the floor is soaked with rain, the water seeping into the tiles.

The radio, on last night and quietly soothing us with Ella Fitzgerald, broadcasted from a radio tower in the quiet mountains of Switzerland, clear as day, is silent. There has been a power outage and we shower in the dark, blessed with natural light from the sea. The budgies still trill. Today, we are in Tanger and the sun will soon be blazing. We tread downstairs for breakfast and clear our minds. I sneer at my older self, a less attractive British woman with smart grey hair and a young Spanish girlfriend and The Connection bats her eyes at me and purses her little lips.

My lips are starting to crease from my tant pis frown of indifference and I put on a freshly pressed shirt and off we go. Our agenda is unclear, but it is assumed that we will head toward the beach, to the surf and sea and perhaps the sunny underbelly of the old town. I have a desperate hunger to scale the buildings with hundreds of rooms and no inhabitants and crouch in the sun, piss on my familiarity.

Instead, I descend the rocky steps, one scuffed loafer at a time. In merely a day, we are nodding at the shopkeepers of the bakery we supped at last night, making eye contact with local neighbors and receiving nods. There are the standard flirtations and creased eyebrows—masculine dress on a gallivanting woman has that effect, but no one makes a move and we are on our way soon enough. Beautiful things are around every corner—a woman sells me a round loaf of bread and grasps my hand, repeating its name in Arabic for my confused brain, khobz! I am called “sir” by a confused shopkeeper, and when I nod, he grins toothily. We arrive at the beach, kilometers of empty, dusty discothèques still advertising parties for New Year’s Eve and a disorienting tile pattern of waves mimicking the sea. Two boys are renting out battered pair of roller skates for 2 dirham to glide across the empty dance floors in the day. Against my better judgment, we pass them by, their shouts absorbed by the sand and sea.

We walk along the beach for some time, what seems longer because our steps are deterred by the cushion of the sand. Sandy shoes dot the waves, their pairs and owners seemingly missing. What initially looks ominous is dashed by the sight of twenty shoeless teens, their feet sandy and gangly as they kick around a soccer ball. Surprisingly, more Moroccans dot the beach than expected. In fact, we see not a single tourist haranguing the sleepy parked camels in the shade nor photographing the sprawling sea, and we walk in peace.

Our socks are filled with sand and she ties me to the headboard with a fuchsia scarf, taunts me with her mind and supine body. Touches herself millimeters from my heaving flesh—“do you like that? Do you like watching me come without you?” and claws her fingers down my face, a hand clenched deadly around my throat. She fists me dry, her fingers splitting me as I quake. I do not want to push myself off that brink so she does it for me, ramming inside and grunting primal sounds and my knees quiver on the bed. I am on the surface and she plunges me under, choking and sputtering under her touch. My lust and the blood from my chapped lips stains the pristine, crisp sheets.

It is her lack of need for me that makes me orgasm to hard, the unfettered beauty of it all.

We go out as the sun sets, clomping up the stairs like excited kids, winding around and running just as the call for prayer starts. Its atonal low beckons and skirts its way into the windows, reverberating through the walls and snaking us upstairs to the fresh air of the terrace, where we stand and embrace the sea. Where it raised my proverbial hackles yesterday, today, I am excited and filled with a rush of envelopment surrounding my skin. I gaze out into the lightness and become it, if only for a blip in time, and we skirt the rocky steps to find our dinner.

 The Connection declines fish and I am not keen on spending another hefty sum at the abandoned hotel, so we opt for a squat restaurant whose tantalizing aromas curl their finger and gesture our way, various meat sizzling on a glowing charcoal grill. The owner and his family serve us outside. We eat with chipped plates and plastic chairs, but we are treated like kings and princes, or better yet, like family ourselves. The hospitality is simple but rallying, an unembellished embrace like the call for prayer in person, and we gorge ourselves on hot charcoal chicken and tangerines, peppered fresh olives and warm bread, and mint tea—“Moroccan whiskey!” the owner says as he pours from two feet above each glass, laughing with his whole body, and we leave feeling loved and understood. I imagine myself in a crumbling apartment above the Kasbah and wonder, what if, how if?

But for now we are in the riad and we tiptoe back before dark sets in. We feel chummy and sit in the cushioned living room, its shelves bowed with books and old, musty throw pillows smelling of home, and I lay my head on her lap. Wine is uncorked and we are talking and I want answers, answers that I may not have sought had my tongue not been loosened by the smutty, warm thickness of the alcohol. I ask and ask and ask and she is frantic and frazzled and suddenly cups her hand and slaps me square in the face. I leap up, eyes blazing, on my lips phrases about limits and anger and boundaries until—

“What’s this all about?” He laughs and ambles into the room and I feel a cold pit of disgust in my spine. It is a man from earlier, an old Scottish gentleman whose voice booms through the tiny walls of the riad. He had lost his key and resigned himself to sitting on the couches, talking to anyone who would listen. Until now, he had seemed harmless.

Until now, though, he wasn’t standing over us, shaking his head.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. You two—together? That’s absolutely disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!” He laughs and I am about to get up when he walks away, into the next room. Through the ornate ironwork carvings we hear him laughing with a friend. My blood boils, but I try to convince myself that he had a momentary, senile, drunk slip of the tongue, and has moved on to something else. And then, he returns.

He can’t stop talking about it. Are we together? Sexually? Can he join in? He’s marveling, confused, but smiling, and I am about to confront it when The Connection runs out of the room, sobbing. He keeps yelling after us, malice crackling in his laughter, and I follow her upstairs. She is afraid that we have been caught, that we will not be defended or helped, lonely in a country where we have given up our legal rights with the hard mechanical slap of a passport stamp and for a moment, I regret taking her here.

I order her tea, go downstairs. The other patrons of the hotel greet me and offer me another glass of wine, and we get to talking. After a while, The Connection pads down and curls herself beneath me, and we enter a casual round-table of volleying and receiving questions from the two couples, older, heterosexual, but kind, and I feel like both an adult and a partner.

The Scot comes behind us and I feel the air in the room thicken with tension. We ignore him and continue the conversation, but he refuses to be left, his voice cutting through our hushed discussions. He will not let the subject rest. “It’s fookin’ disgusting, is what it is, you two together. I’ve never seen anything like it! I’m a Scot, and it’s awful that this is what they let girls like you do in America!”

One of the men and I are on our feet. He is closer as I do not want to be in the line of the brutish old man’s swing and I trust my friend to land a better punch than I. The Scot will not be moved. He squats imperviously in the center of the room. He will not leave, he will not go back to bed, he will not let us leave. He wants to stew in his superiority and jab at us. He raises his voice and points at me, at us.

“Just disgusting,” and that’s when I get close to him. The anger radiates heat off my skin, and my fury is palpable. He has echoed what I worry they think, that I am a grotesque parody of in-between and it makes me want to kick him to a bloody pulp, his privilege shattered at my feet. My knees are shaking and my fists are clenched and I am about to push him when our host, a polite Moroccan gentleman steps in, his hands raised and fanning near us, begging us to calm down. He has his phone out, he tells the man, and he will call the police if he does not stop harassing us. The Scot does not calm down and the proprietor ushers him out, talking to the officer on the phone and smiling at us.

Later, he returns to ensure that we are okay, and reassures us that in the morning, the man will have to leave. We know he had a nicer room than us, that he was staying longer, that he would have, in the long run, earned more money for the little riad during the down season, and still, they defended us. They stood up for us in a country where what we did was illegal and they made sure we were okay because they saw us as people.

That, that is the Africa I sought and received.

-C.