On intoxication.

This is where I started and ended the follies that might have broken us. This one was better, I think. The party is packed and the vegan dip has been defrosted. Time to start. I’m wary without drugs or alcohol or even caffeine pocking the surface of unfiltered sex, but here we are. We leave the cold and enter the microcosm. There are people playing, as they’ve been since the wee hours. We’ve just started. I’m flitty and curt, like I’ve just done a line. There’s a buzz to my voice that belies my fear. She knows. We bump into The Photographer. She knows, too.

They herd me to the smaller room, off to the sides. Red wanders. The Photographer stays. We’re a direct contrast to the bellows in the corners of the room, crouched down on the ground. Her first pinch hits like an arrow and sinks into my blood. I double over as I’m on my knees, trying to breathe to the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the pain, focus my protests inward. The next one is meaner, bullets in my side, thorns across my forehead. It starts like a sunburn and slides further. Sun poisoning beneath the mere surface of the skin. I’m panting on the ground by the time Red comes back. My hands are swimming in front of me but there’s nowhere to go. Kicked to the ground. Battered. Unfurled. Burnt.

They sandwich me between them. Arms snake over my chest, hold my chin up. She slaps me once, five times, eight times across the cheek until it’s numb and my muscles go supple. It courses through my veins. It’s a drug for my mind, little shoves to calibrate my senses until they shove me in a chair and loom over me. Twin claws sink into the softest parts of my upper arms. The slaps rain down. I sink. Thrust across a table. I feel people watching, and I gain a second wind. Like it or not, I feed off their attention, their admiration that something so small could take so much of this. Red leans down, her lips visible and the rest a blur of beauty. She’s going to kiss me. She’s going to hurt me. I’m going to take it all. I check my teeth. She slaps, a blitz of sensation. I feel their eyes. I check my teeth again. I’m okay. Slapped down over a table and spanked, now, my ass getting the attention it craves deep in the recesses of my cunt. She trails her fingers over my skin. Her touch can be so gentle and tender, the true mark of someone who knows the secrets of the body. She grasps the flesh and I buckle. The true mark of a woman who cares so much she ceases to care.

It is happening again. Parts of my body feel modified. Tenderized. My thighs tree-trunk large, bruised and whorled by the synthetic stamps embedded in their boots. There are punctures to the plush parts of my arms, where the cells curve to meet the torso. Battle scars that will fade away. Some evaporate. Some go down below. They drag me into the main room, into the spotlight and shove me against the web. Bound, I breathe. I’m told to grasp the chains and my fingers fit around the links. Second nature. Each punch digs deeper before it hits rock and I cry out, softly into the ethos. Louder things are happening around me. I’m less sensitive to them as a participant rather than a spectator, but they remain irksome intrusions in my corner of the scene. They’re laughing. Two fists hit my chest. They wrench my neck through the chains, caress and prick me like they want to see me bleed.

Motionless in motion and I’m slung over her shoulder and tossed to the floor, crashing down to a solid point with no resistance so I can feel every bruise in every muscle. They strip me. Their follow-through is precise, faithful in its twinning, like watching segments of a bridge travel their way up the seaboard. Like knowing how they fit together. Her knuckles graze my jaw and I skip a breath to look further into her eyes as the colors saturate.

They slip inside.

I see the feet of people standing nearby, and they’re pointed toward me in such a way that I know that they can see me. They don’t acknowledge the breakage that’s occurring, the ache of the movement, mere centimeters and they’re laughingwet guffaws into the ethos that don’t even understand that a small, critical part of me is bare and small on the floor. They move around me and I sob, I let go and cry into the foot-worn carpet. She asks me what’s wrong, honey on her tongue and pushes my face into the concrete. They fuck me in silence, in kindred shadows.

There’s an inky part of me, something dry and hedonistic and dark that won’t go away, that begs for more, for anonymity, for the eyes of the world scattered across my life. It scatters across the floor and finds its way into cracks, like sesame seeds, impossible to extract from the corners of the world. With this urge, I ask for more after they’ve cradled me, surrounded me, tried to pick me up from the ground with their fingernails.

Every time I close my eyes and bury my head, I look up to see them gazing upon me once more, above and around. Drawn closer. I fuck Red on the floor with my fingers around a dildo, just us alone in the crowd and she tightens around the dildo, around my heart. We rest. There’s a large chocolate cone in the center of the table. Red bashes a piece for me and it melts into the cracks of my lips. Fruit. Cheese. I regain energy and my sneer comes back. I want more. My mind wants more. My body’s not so sure. I’m frustrated when I discover that the cross is too large for my limbs and I scramble up for the shock effect. I think I have more in me until the punches hurt more, they sink into my skin deeper and I absorb it all. I discover a limit. I retreat, gracefully, into the night with my woman and soak in a tub just taller than my worn elbows and knees.

-C.

On forgetting to breathe.

A week of abject failure brings pleasant reminisces of the weeks before, before the grades and the evaluations and the interview I hopelessly blew worse than my high school prom date (my sincerest apologies, Russkie) in the suit I wore, growing wetter and my smile bigger as the futility came over me like a dense wool blanket.

Last week, they splayed me on the bed. Last week, I was more alive, and my fingers smelled rusty, like the dark jars in the dead hallways of the museum beloved in my childhood. The jars were filled with the musk of long-dead animals, black and hollow inside. I would lean on my elbows and breathe in the foreign seduction, alone in a rounded room.

Today, I am tired. The act of writing is as labored and choked as my breaths with the pinch of every clip cinched across the flesh of my forearm and mottled atop my thighs. The stakes get higher when she looks me in the eye. She won’t let me get away, neither of them will. I watch the metal grasp my skin, take a bite out of my vanity and wind me tighter.

There are things I cannot change, like the burble and hiss of water as it slowly ebbs from the building. When I return home at 2, tearing off my suit, it will stay off until 8. I will get dirty. I will bang my greasy paws against the counter and sigh. The grades will not change until the semester turns over. I will apply and apply to meaningless jobs until my own name swims in front of my eyes. The men will still make jokes. The shirts will still not fall correctly, evenly over a flat chest. The clocks will stop, the hours will continue. The calls will go unanswered, my emails unreplied.

Last week, I was trussed, my hands in front of me so close and inaccessible, a tantalizing bounty unfolding, curling. Each breath emanated through every pore. The binder clips tightened my skin around me, forced me underneath the waves of oxygen, dizzying, slow gasps until I moved back under. The knuckles dug into my skin like a shovel, piercing fertile ground.

There are things that can change. The bruises fade back into my skin, or evaporate from it like tea from paper. The clothes fit better as the suits get smaller and quietly, I begin to communicate with my family once more. The girl I first kissed (a decade ago, where does it go?) resurfaces from a murky deep. The air outside my apartment smells like spring and gasoline. From butch to butcher to busting out in the center of the bed. People read, but do not speak. We are playing this weekend, we are partying as the moon rises atop the shitty buildings of this shitty town and will ignore the sounds of ambulances echoing around the rooms.

-C.