by Monet Patrice Thomas
Before your come-scream can echo down the hallway he’s out of his bed, fingers reaching behind a stack of method acting books to bring forth a plastic bottle rattling like a maraca with pills. Another week passes before you learn about his bipolar disorder which you look up on the internet but still don’t understand. Two weeks after that you’ll experience what he calls an episode when he sneers in your face, and says, “you’re a filthy bitch,” in a tone as flat as paper before hurling his favorite mug — heavy handmade earthenware — off the balcony. The sound of the mug shattering and how the shards flew in every direction is a memory that’s yours forever. The big bang. The beginning.
You won’t know just yet that this is a casual thing, a nothing thing, because before him men did foolishly romantic things to be near you —forded treacherous water and pulled the moon down from the sky. Everything and anything to catch the light glinting off your unclothed skin. So right then you don’t know how to not be wanted. Look at you! You’re still in his bed trying to stretch your sex-warmed, fantastically youthful body until it’s exposed to the cold air of the room making your nipples hardened in a way that would be inviting, if he was looking at you.
The other women in your troupe will be jealous, at first — when you tell them backstage how the new actor from Connecticut goes down on you with such fervor you feel like you’re feeding him, that he suckles between your legs like a calf to his mother — but after a month, when the Mason Theatre’s production of Kiss me, Kate is almost through, they’ll tire of the stories. And a few will already know for themselves exactly how his mouth feels against their softest skin, the stubble of his upper lip branding their inner thighs. But for now, as you’re artfully arched uncomfortable, performing what you believe is the definition of the word sexy, he has put on sweatpants and socks, and turned on his computer. The glare from the screen is the only light in the room.
Your grandmother used to say men didn’t respect women who drank or smoked, or loose women who gave away what should be paid for with a diamond ring and commitment. But what you’ll learn is men don’t respect women at all. Not meek women or poised women. Not pretty women or nice women. You know because you tried to be each one. Eventually you’ll name his getting-out-of-bed-after-sex shutting down before realizing he just doesn’t have a reason to linger after fucking you. So you’ll try to prevent it from happening. You’ll press yourself to his back or try to go down on him. Neither works. Nothing works. And then it’s another man who immediately leaves the bed, but instead of trying to stop him you’ll get up, too, find your clothes, and leave. The shine of your skin dims with time. The pattern repeats and repeats, until the moment when, finally, there’s a man in your bed who loves you and you’ll understand that it’s your turn. Now your role to play is desperate-to-be-anywhere-else. It’s your turn to be the mug broken on the pavement never to be put back together.
About the Author:
Monet Patrice Thomas is a writer and poet living in Beijing, China. She holds a degree in Business Marketing from Elon University and a Masters of Fine Arts from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is currently the Interviews Editor for The Rumpus. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and several best-of-the-net prizes. Her flash fiction story, Ring of Salt was chosen by Aimee Bender for the 2018 Best Small Fictions anthology.
Photograph by Christopher Titzer via Flickr (cc).