I was thinking today about that apartment on the fifth floor, the walk-up with the kitchen exhaust fan that surely saved our lives in the humid evenings when hunger finally outweighed exhaustion, when I finally lit the gas burner and tossed the steaks into the pan. Your landlord told you to stop grilling on the balcony. The mosquitoes had discovered the patio below. You never grilled.
Your skin must still glisten in the low light now–even a table lamp seems to add to this kind of heat. We drew the shades all day back then, turned the fans to blow the air out of the small dark rooms, lay motionless in the small dark world until the sun set, until I startled at the hour, reached over you for my panties, pulled them on as I stood into my sandals and walked into the kitchen, zipping my dress along the way. I stood in front of the refrigerator, pulling out cucumbers, carrots, the two steaks, poured the last quarter bottle of chilled chablis into the wine glass on the counter. I answered my calls, talked while I chopped, and life returned, nightly, a radio flipped on, the air at last cooler than our flat, fans turned in once more, your drunken cold pecks landing on my hot neck.
I fucked you slowly then, slow the only way to survive the days, the long days. I slid slowly over you beneath the shower, in oceans, in beds at home, in holiday inns beside lakes up north, in the cool lack of privacy, the bickering want for ambition, my want. I dreaded relief in those hot days, slowed days down as if to hang on longer, dreaded the strength that might return when the haze lifted, when the phone rang, and it was someone else, something else, something clear, and crisp, and full, and faraway.
Your muscles tightened beneath your skin as you lay upon the hot mattress through those idle months. I hated you, your unemployed cock still hard, shameless, your body fit, maintained in all the hours, morning hours, long hours with nothing more to do but to adore it, to adore yourself. I hated the hours you had to spend, motionless, your passion seemingly endless in the abyss, passion without a cause. I hated the flowers you gave to break the news to me, your gift to yourself, your selfishness. I hated the rumble of an engine, your liberty, you said, your life, unexplored, really, as if lying in these small rooms with me really ever was enough, if only I’d stay there with you, bound by the ring on my finger, only you, no friends, no landscape beyond, as if you thought I wanted nothing more in this life than you, as if wanting more was to betray you. I betrayed you.
I loved you in that room, you know. I loved the heat, radiating, loved that dizzy feeling that nothing else mattered, loved the mind-twisting illusion, your blind jealous red eyes, loved the cool knife pushed oh so gently into my flesh, my senses slowed, dulled, loved the lull, the gradual loss of myself, longer, loved the mirage, the promise of more, you, there, just a little farther beyond.