She cries a lot because her teeth are gone. I hold her, though I am furious she is so diseased. I imagine one day she’ll be pretty like before. Maybe she’ll let me make her all over again.
We used to call each other every day. “Did you get more wine?” were her first words. “No need. I never run out”. Were mine. We stare at each other when we are intoxicated, both of us desperate and hungry for the thrill of romance. Sometimes I’m afraid to touch her, but once the alcohol soothes me, I can’t resist her. “Do you love me or are you just lonely?” she frequently questions. One night, my hair, longer than her legs fell into my eyes, which brought much relief. I shoved myself off the couch though once I saw her horror. She has seen my tears every time. She has also seen the misery and anger.
Her hair is auburn. It used to be thick and shiny. Now it is like dried blood, lifeless and dirty. I refuse to tell her she isn’t beautiful anymore, but seeing her lose her beauty makes me feel like I’m at a funeral.
We met in the street. I was on my knees calling for a stray cat to come to me. She passed by and said “He won’t come. He is too scared, especially because you look like a woman but are obviously a man.” My Adam’s apple was visible even through my shirt collar. I gave up on the feline and sat on the sidewalk. She joined me, smiling like she was proud my feelings were hurt. “So, what are you trying to be?” she asked.
“Whatever the world accepts.” I answered.
“Well choose one, man or woman.” There was lavender lip stick on my mouth and mascara on my lashes. I didn’t know what to say, so I hid my face with my hair, just like I did when she spotted my tears during drunken nights.
She caught me trying on her bra last week. I was a mess, buzzed and discouraged, makeup draining down my cheeks. “That’s mine.” She laughed. “Are you okay?”
“Why do you make fun of me? Isn’t it apparent I suffer enough?”
“Yes, but a bra won’t make you who you want to be. It is simply a disguise. The image inside your mind isn’t reality, no matter what you wear.”
I cried so hard in that moment. I thought about hitting her, but knew I wouldn’t. She eventually felt penitent and held me. “I am so harsh.” She whispered. “But I don’t want you to be delusional, not when I love you the way you are.”
I love women. I love them not only because of their sensitivity and grace, but their ability to seduce everything in nature. One night, clothed in a black long-sleeve dress, I fooled a man. “I want you.” He said, grabbing my wrist and pressing me against his chest.
“For now you do.” I said. “If you knew my secrets, you’d kill me.” The look in his eyes was sad, like he felt pity for me, or felt unbearable disappointment due to my rejection. I went home that night and took pictures of myself. I printed them and hung them on the wall. “Oh, you are very stupid my love.” I said out loud. “You can intrigue others but never yourself. You’ll always be a mystery, a very ugly mystery.” There are only three photos left. Each day I tear one off, as if to get rid of pieces of myself. There once were 30 images. I gave 10 to the fire and 17 to my mean lover. She stares at them like she misses me, eyes full of stress and grief. “I’m not dead yet.” I often tell her. “Stop looking so doleful. It makes me nauseous.”
She is sick too. Sometimes I get jealous she’s in worse condition than I am. I want to die first. I want her to feel guilty for all the times she has made me feel weird and ashamed.
Her teeth disappeared a year after we met. “My honey.” I whimpered the day I saw her empty mouth. “Why did you do that to yourself?”
“It’s the only thing that helps.” She answered, giving me a loose hug. The trauma of seeing her empty mouth made me involuntarily push her back, as if I couldn’t stand to be around her now that I knew how disturbed she was.
“Is it my fault?” I asked. “Has my strangeness terrorized you so much that you had to take it out on your flesh?” She pressed her hand on my shoulder, her way of telling me to shut up. I wanted to look at her, but I could not bring myself to. Her anxiety was deadly. Removing her teeth was the only therapy she had.
She laughed as I vomited from grief. “You dumb woeful thing. You’d be better off loving yourself than me.” Her words were so cruel I couldn’t help glance at her. She suddenly appeared frightened. Maybe it was the malice in my eyes. Maybe it was the sadness too.
I stay up late every night, thinking of ways to re-invent her and me. She used to be so lovely. She always told me I was the prettiest being that ever existed. Now, we don’t see anything except decay. “We are very hideous crumbling things.” I whispered one evening while we were resting next to each other. “It needs to end. We need to finally blow away.”
She is late coming home tonight. I sit on the couch, a half-empty bottle of Merlot dangling from my fingers. I know I’ll look furious when she walks in. The fury is only a disguise. I am devastated she cannot bite me anymore.
I hear her foot-steps outside the front door. My chest burns with anxiousness as I see the knob twist open. “Having fun?” she asks, glancing at the bottle of wine. I snigger, rising halfway from the couch, as if I want to be face to face with her. I quickly change my mind and sit back down. “You didn’t save any for me?” she snatches the bottle from my hand, staring at me with contemptuous eyes.
“Why should I? Don’t I need it more? Alcohol helps me use my imagination. Right now, I am a woman, not a feminine man.” She busts out laughing. I smile the whole time, though I really want to scream and smack her.
“Well, all I see is a pathetic man.”
I didn’t expect it, only imagined it at first, but I jerked her against me, a tiny shriek escaping her mouth. We made eye contact for what seemed an hour, but in reality was only five seconds before I shoved her away from me. “You see the truth. That is why I despise you sometimes. I cannot hide anything.”
She watches as I open another bottle of wine, hugging her elbows like she can still feel my hands against her. “I want to give you something.” I say. “I want you to watch me give it to you.” I turn around, appearing hysterical, tears leaking from my eyes, and lifting the wine bottle to my face, I break it against my teeth until my mouth is bloody and broken. She grabs her head and roars, complexion pale with shock.
Though in severe pain, I giggle and stretch across the floor, hand rising to pour more wine inside of me. “Come get them my dear. I tear myself up for you. I am so ugly anyway.” My eyes are closed when she comes to gather my teeth and push them inside her head.
“Open!” she shouts. “I want you to see me!” I hesitate at first, only because I am scared I’ll sob once I see her beauty again.
“Oh, you are the prettiest girl in the world. I wish I was you.” She wipes the blood from my jaws before going to admire herself in the mirror. I cry because I’m still the same, a man with the looks and sensitivity of a lady.
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