The Sound of God
The first time I take the morning after pill, I also buy lactose-free chocolate milk and coconut water because the man I’ve fucked likes it, and I want to think of his mouth on me. My best friend has just moved more than three blocks away. I drive to her, past the Popeyes, past the warehouse bars, over the long ramp to the part of town that reminds me of Georgia, box-homes a tornado might demolish, women inside making frozen dinners and men outside pruning tomato plants while drinking Coronas. The mood is red and matte gold. The Midwest suddenly feels Southern. I am embarrassed. Ashamed of my impulse to fuck and not think, of kinda wanting a baby to solve my loneliness problems. And there’s also the odd feeling that I trust myself more than I ever have. I’ve gone to some new limit and simply found myself taking care of myself. Is this what my grandma meant when she’d say in a drawl: “God humbles us so we might experience unconditional love?”
I didn’t have sex with my ex-husband until our wedding night, so this new kind of fucking is impulsive. I slam the door on my brain. I choose what I crave. I regret how long I’ve ignored my body and its knowledge.
After the sex, the good and new sex where I stare into our separateness, the sex my body refused for years, the sex I stop trying to contain — the sex where I forget the burden of being female and he spends an uncountable amount of time with his face between my legs, where we kiss each other hard, where nobody cares about smells — after this sex we go to the bathroom with the lights off, and he asks me to stand still so he can watch my pupils shrink in the dark. “The green,” he says, “Wow, the green.” Wow is a word his mouth makes me love. He turns on the light. “Your eyes are growing,” he says. “I can hear them,” I say, and think about how I should write that in a poem, how terrible it would be. I love the sound of things — the way the dark bathroom sounds like a tunnel because my ears have fogged up, how I can almost hear his hair, how he gently turns on the faucet to help me pee.
The ladies at the pharmacy are rude. I ask them if it will hurt, what the side effects will be — say, and immediately regret saying, that I’ve never taken any kind of birth control. “Yeah,” they say, “It might hurt, but that’s what happens when you have unprotected sex.” I mourn this.
There is no secret love code between all women.
I puke and shake in my friend’s bathroom. Cramps. I wait for him to text me back. I’ve thrown my anxiety on him via language.
“Wow,” he texts.
Later, I’ll tell him how much I’ve come to love the sound of this word in his mouth. I’ll try to explain why his text hurt. Later, he will give me money for the pill. He will make me buttery eggs and apologize for not knowing what to say. He will leave and stop seeing me because he’s emotionally unavailable and potentially not over his ex-girlfriend. He doesn’t want me. I will be sleep-for-days sad.
My friend feeds her baby oatmeal and bits of chicken. This year was the first year I experienced suicidal thoughts. This year was the first year I admitted I could not be how I was. “Help,” I say to her as I sneak a piece of the baby’s chicken. “Help,” I say to myself as I curl up on her couch. Her baby says my name. Her baby shows me my toes and says, “Toes!” I ask the baby what noises she likes to make. The baby shouts, “Noises!”
At home my neighbor knocks just to say, “Hello. You okay?” She is the best neighbor I’ve ever had. She has a daughter my age back in Brooklyn. I tell her about the pill.
“Was the sex worth it?”
“You are alive, girl. You’re alive. People have died this week in unfathomable ways.” “Give me another hug,” she says.
“Drink water,” she says.
She limps up the stairs because she’s rehabilitating her hip. Months and she rehabilitates it in the middle of the night on her bike machine. She is a night owl like me, like my grandmother. She asks if the sound bothers me. I tell her it never bothers me — the sound of her bike machine, the sound of her body living above me, the sound.
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