I’m wearing my banana-yellow pantsuit and my best ash-blonde, bob-styled wig. He’s an hour late.
One of my fake lashes falls on my lap. The glue still sticky on my eyelid.
He yells from outside my window. You up there?
I press the eyelashes back in place and stumble out of the apartment and down the stairs. The stubborn eyelashes fly off in my haste.
He meets me by the landing and I try to hide in the shadows, under the upper-floor staircase.
I have to go back upstairs, I say.
No, you stay right where you are.
I raise a hand. Stop right there, I say.
Never hide from me, he says. An ambulance siren cuts the tension.
I say, Never tell me what to do.
* * *
We’re on our third bottle of ruby wine and his head is on my lap. Greasy hair staining the white skirt draped over my brown legs.
We’re sitting on my mother’s chaise lounge, gold velvet marred by wine stains. My mother’s first American possession.
He bumps my abdomen with his imperfect nose. Like water he absorbs my heat.
What happened to your nose? I say.
A woman broke it years ago, he says.
Did you deserve it? I pull his head close enough to smother his reply.
And he lets me. Rubs his nose back and forth. His arm reaching around me, holding me too close.
That woman taught me something about love, he says. And then he pulls away.
Sometimes I want to eat through your sweet body, he says. He bites the inside of my wrist.
I try to escape him but he drags me back and I curve inside his open arms. My forehead against his scruffy chin.
Stay tonight, I say.
* * *
The first time we fucked, I cried and he stopped. I kicked him, maybe. He didn’t touch me again.
* * *
I’m bent over the couch. Long nails digging into fake leather skin as he rubs my inner thigh.
Stop, I say.
He stops touching my thigh.
You sure? he finally says, his voice gravelly like he just discovered how to use it.
I look at him when he says this. My whirlwind boy with golden eyes and arms covered in golden down.
I lick his forearm. Pull him into the lip of my orchid.
* * *
And when I make the choice, he doesn’t say anything.
He takes out his keys, tugs at each one on his keyring as if the answer to why we’re here is hiding in a locked room somewhere.
I have the last word, I say.
He sits there at the table with his keys hanging from the ring.