by Alyssa

Tights--In Five Parts

Pt. 1

Tonight, you pulled off your tights and your toenail got caught and pierced them, and the fabric ran in a long straight line and you cried and I stood in the doorway, unsure. You ripped the tights off your other leg and threw them on the floor, cursed, and wiped your hand against your face and your mascara ran and I was suddenly afraid of you. I stood away from you, saw the black smudge on your thumb.

You unzipped your dress and your vertebrae appeared in a crooked line, each bone sticking out, your spine rolling itself out as the zipper of your dress opened. You let the dress fall to the floor and you stood there, and immediately goose bumps rose all over your flesh. You weren't facing me but I knew I would've been able to see your nipples through your bra. The dress pooled around your feet and you stood there, untouched, in the middle of our darkened room, with a black tear dripping down your neck.

Pt. 2

Yesterday, you told me. And it was like everything shifted a millimeter, and became clear. I felt stupid and angry and afraid, for you, for me, for us. And yet it was also freeing, to finally know what was choking you. It was you.

You cried but I knew you felt better. I let you crawl into my lap, rest your head on my shoulder. I felt the weight of your skin on me. I suddenly didn't understand you. I didn't understand your own hatred, your desire to get rid of everything that made me love you. I wanted to push you away from me, push your bag filled with hate away from the happiness that was going to be so much harder for us now.

Instead I sat there, until you turned your head and let your hair fall into my face.

Pt. 3

Today we woke up. Had things changed? It was hard to tell. I still wanted you, I wanted to feel your lips and run my hands over the bump of your stomach. I wanted to watch you get dressed, with your back to me, like you always did. I wanted to watch you disappear under your sweaters. I wanted to touch the flat buttons that you did up to your throat.

And I wanted to undress you, in the dark of our apartment, the only light the golden shadow from the street lights two floors below. I wanted to feel the shake of your hands as you felt for my lips, your rough hands traversing the back of my neck, pulling me down into you. I wanted to feel myself fit into the contours of your body, your legs wrapped in mine, your naked flesh so terrified. I wanted to feel your wall crash over me, knock me on the head.

I hoped my wanting you was enough. It hurt. I still felt that.

Pt. 4

Today you slept and looked peaceful, flat on your stomach. You told me you felt thinner laying on your stomach. Now I knew what you meant. It was so twisted. I was so twisted. I wanted to scream at you. STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT. I let you sleep.

I made coffee. A plate of eggs for me. I didn't bother saving you anything. I ate a piece of toast, drizzled the eggs with ketchup. I ate it all, ravenous. I made another piece of toast, poured myself another cup of coffee. When I was finished with that I poured myself a bowl of cereal, shoveled it into my mouth until milk was dripping down my chin. I made more toast. I made more eggs. I ate until I couldn't move, until my head was so heavy I could barely lift it. I pushed the plate away. You were still sleeping, unaware of this. You were me.

I went into the bathroom, locked the door behind and turned on the shower. The water exploded from the pipes, loud against the floor of the tub. I took my fingers and shoved them down my throat, pushing harder and harder. My eyes welled, angry at me. I could barely breathe. And then it caught. And the food came up, and I shoved my fingers down again, until my throat was raw, until my heart pounded, until I could see crusts of bread and raisins getting stuck in the drain.

I turned the shower on and crawled under the stream. How could you do this to yourself? I laid in the shower until you pounded on the door. Are you ok? you said. I couldn't answer you.


Pt. 5

Tonight, we went to a party. We pretended we were fine. You held my hand, sipped a glass of wine. I felt like your life preserver. The pressure to be so much for you was making it hard to breathe. I didn't eat anything. I hadn't eaten since this morning. You had a piece of cheese. We smiled.

I excused myself and went outside. I smoked a cigarette with a girl and we chatted. I hadn't smoked in a while and it felt good. I hoped you wouldn't come out. I smoked three cigarettes in a row. The girl and I had nothing to talk about but I needed to be out here. The girl offered me a fourth cigarette and I could feel my body turning against me. My throat burned and my fingernails smelled. I hated myself suddenly. I handed it back to her, half gone. She threw it on the ground and smashed it with her toe. Do you want to get out of here? she asked me. I could smell her smokiness mixed with her perfume. It was a smell I used to love.

I turned around. I could see you through the window. You were sitting alone, twisting your fingers around your wrist. You looked nervous and lonely and sad. I went back inside.

Hi, you said when you saw me. Hi. Do you want to go? you asked. I nodded. You got your purse, walked up to me. You could smell me. I waited for you to say something.

We left. Walked home. Walked up three flights and left the lights off. You took off your stockings, pulled a tear in the leg. Shit, you said, your head falling against your chest. Your tears fell. You turned your back to me, unzipped your dress. I leaned against the door frame, watching your shadow move in the darkness.

Have I ruined everything? you whispered. It filled the room, your fear, your honestly.

I moved away from the door and took a step towards you. Your arms were covered in goose bumps. I could smell your perfume and deodorant. It was the smell I loved now. I laid my hand against the flesh of your bare back and breathed it in.

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