(part two of three)
Come, come, Lillith, back to your porch. Tommy in the chair, cup of wine in hand, August wind wild and fructifying. You look at the streetlights. It’s nighttime. You were trying to sleep. Something keeps you up.
“Why won’t you come to bed?”
-I don’t know, he answers, not making contact but shifting his legs like something painful, as if almost pained by you looking at him.
You want to ask “What’s wrong?” What’s wrong with Tommy, why the silence in the dark, on the porch alone? You want to bring him sunshine. Sunny, you, with rings on your toes, tapping on the blue painted boards of your porch, staring at the christmas lights strung on the banister.
Why? You want to ask, but not to pain him, not to be stung by a muffled, far-off voice squeezing out a courtesy, covering up his thoughts from you that keep him, that chain you to his horizon or just too close for him to see.
He read to you earlier, something wordy that you couldn’t really understand. But it made you nervous, tense, disturbed in a weird and awful way. Something in that something was very, very wrong; very, very painful, but not showing it, hiding it in a wordy, obscured rage. Like someone bitter on the street, spitting onto the asphalt— the saliva steaming, bubbling, disappearing into the words Tommy rambled through to you and your mutual friend. Your friend who agreed with Tommy that it needs a bit more work, this something. Your friend who, almost flabbergasted, looked at Tommy as he read.
And the heat inside— you want him next to you. Even though it pains you that he seems even further when you lay side by side. And the heat, it makes you a bit delirious, makes your flesh cling limply to your bones, makes you want to touch yourself, to burn oily and secreting in the stillness of your bed. Eventful, but still. Peaked, and you drink your water.
You want to show him something. You don’t know what. Something that will grab his attention, that will attract him from the dark and heat-spoilt rage or sorrowful something in him. You want to stir him up, but not with pleasure or anything else he already knows, fearing he will reject anything familiar; knowing that everything familiar has already been spoilt in his weird-awful rage.
The wind blows through the trees loudly. You turn your face towards it, feeling it strong against your face. You almost want to stand, to run, to fling yourself through the night. You sit. A cigarette falls from his hand into the pot of twigs and dirt next to him where he sits.
His hands remind you he is a man. He is twenty-three now. For his birthday you bought him an old green typewriter. He doesn’t— or can’t— use it much. All that comes out of it is that queer sour potion that disturbs you. But you are proud of him, for writing, for wanting to write. You are still glad he comes over. You wouldn’t ask him to leave…
Like a dropped bottle of diet coke, you feel him fizzing without sound, splitting in the chair you found, sitting with his thoughts, far and going further away.
“What’s the matter?”
His silence threatens to strangle you. He answers
-There is this line I’ve remembered lately or made up I can’t tell which. It keeps coming to my head: Felt distinctly as pleasure. I say it over and over again. Felt distinctly as pleasure. I wish I…
“What are you thinking?”
Sand. Beige and blue, but a dry blue. A thin, dry blue. Sand. You taste this. You think it came from him.
Hours of this, without him moving. Hours. The skin on your face suddenly pulls tighter than glass. You feel it crack and fall off. You feel like a piece of transparent, crumbling clay, in a dessert, pelted by the dessert sands… A tower raised above the shattering dunes…
You lift up your skin from the blue painted boards of your porch, and light it up with a match, taking long drags off it. You look at Tommy. A deep shadow is over him. You can’t see his eyes. He frightens you.
The phone rings, it’s your mutual friend. He asks what’s up, wanna drink, wanna come over? You become confused. He starts talking quickly, excitedly. You laugh.
“I don’t know,” you say. “It’s late.”
The night will not end. It’s like the silence, it’s like his hot hidden thoughts. You make him take you. You do not move. When he finishes he rolls over onto his back. Not a word. Something wants to come to his surface, you can feel it. Like a snake in his skin, sweltering in him. You want him to burst, to rip open beside you, to explode and paint the heat-yellowed walls of your room the thick deep warm red of his blood. You clinch your mouth, he gets up.
He brings back his favorite glass one-third full of Booker’s. He smokes, swaying slightly in the heat conjured thick in this hot silent room.
Because he did that, you think, because he did that with his body to my body, I will not leave him. He is real. I remember now. He put a memory in my body, and stirred it up. I need to thank him.
But you’re angry. You wish you could be sorry. Something. But sorry would be worse than anything else you could give him. Sorry he already knows, better, further than he knows pleasure. What just happened, when he took you, that was not pleasure. It was a sharp grain passing through the wind, through the thick August wind, blowing in the stillness of the curtains, moving against them touchlessly. He’s talking to you now, telling you what he’s thinking. Thousands. You crumple up the soggy towel and toss it across the room. You light a cigarette, close your eyes, feel the shortness of your hair. He takes a shower. You thank him as you fall asleep.