I take inventory with pleasure.
My right hand hurts deep, like it got slammed in a door.
My ass hurts. I vaguely remember him putting it in my ass by accident.
I don’t feel it at first, but in the mirror, I see two bruises mirroring each other on my collarbones. I see Sal in bed next to me. He is asleep, or faking, with his arm crossed over his face.
My head throbs. I am hungover, but also I fell on the sidewalk. My skull slammed the concrete. I put my hand up to where it hurts, just to make sure there’s no blood.
My vag hurts. It has been two years since I’ve had sex with a man. I count on my fingers. Sal is my thirteenth sexual partner, and the first man I’ve fucked in New York.
I used to be in love with a man. Whenever I fuck someone I wish they were him. I used to pull my shorts down in front of the mirror to admire his handiwork. I loved how first my bruises were red, raised, hand shaped, and then they would evolve into purple, green, yellow splotches. They stayed for weeks. When we broke up and the bruises disappeared entirely, I cried.
It has been two years since I’ve had sex with a man
I admire Sal’s bicep as he hides his face from me. Sal is a total jock and if we weren’t scene partners, we’d never have spoken. I sometimes look more like a boy than a girl and I’m the slightest bit taller than him. Our scene was a class favorite. They were all impressed with our natural chemistry.
I wonder if all our friends know we left the party to go fuck. They are new friends and I want them to like me even though I get too drunk, smoke weed without asking the host, and leave early. Sal and I lied to their faces badly, that our Ubers just happened to show up at the same time, to take us out of Chelsea.
We have only known each other for a month but I decide that I could love him. I miss my ex less when Sal texts me all day. I fucking love you, he slurred before taking it back. I can’t remember if this was before or after I smashed my head.
We have only known each other for a month
but I decide that I could love him
I pray I have all my shit. I was carrying around a lot of weed and a glass bowl, along with my wallet, ear buds, and phone. I made the mistake of bringing my purse that snaps instead of zips, because it is the most expensive looking one.
Sal wakes up and we take turns looking away. It’s painful.
Both our phones screech about a flash flood warning. Thunder cracks outside. Maybe that’s what my head on the concrete sounded like. He tells me I have to go.
ART BY ROBERT JAMES RUSSELL
Robert James Russell is the author of the novellas Mesilla (Dock Street Press) and Sea of Trees (Winter Goose Publishing), and the chapbook Don't Ask Me to Spell It Out (WhiskeyPaper Press). He is a founding editor of the literary journals Midwestern Gothic and CHEAP POP. You can find him online at robertjamesrussell.com and on Twitter at @robhollywood.
E.F. Flynn is a queer writer and theatre artist. They are a proud graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz. Their work has been previously published in Gandy Dancer, The Merrimack Review, and Anthem Journal. They can be found on Instagram at @hello_elliot_