The Gory Details

I'll begin with a story, so you 'll understand my reasoning. Not my story--it comes from a group meeting. I'm changing names, other details, so you can't identify anyone. It's important that I do this. I can't betray the group. It's our number one rule: No Further Violation.

I'll call her Sophie, the woman to whom this story belongs. She is married and has children. Two daughters. One night, her husband shares a fantasy. Simple: it involves him, his wife and the children's babysitter.

Sophie is shocked. Outraged. But even more so, she is hurt that her husband would want someone else--and tell her about it.

When she expresses dismay, he says, "Oh, come on, you let your uncle do you; how can you act so pure now?"

Sophie is crushed.

As she'd related the story, she'd stared down at her hands twisting in her lap. Looking up, she'd shrugged and said in a quiet tone, "Sometimes, they just don't get it."

They are men in general and that is why I no longer tell a guy in particular what my brother used to do with me.

Correction: Used to do to me. I was there, but I did not participate and I was not willing.

- - -

"So?" my roommate asks again.

"So?" I echo, as I lean into the mirror so close I can feel my breath, bouncing off the glass, returning warm against my skin. I run the mascara brush against my lashes again and again, intent on ignoring Diana.

"Tonight's your deadline, right?"

I say nothing.

"You're not going to tell him, are you?"

I step back, blink my eyes at my reflection. I close the mascara tube, toss it on the dresser, pick up my sweater and pull it on. "I'm not going to mention it, because I no longer share the gory details of my childhood. With anyone. Period.

"Besides, I don't think he's really serious about this 'deadline.'"

Diana falls back in the pillows propped against the headboard. "Oh, he's serious. If you don't sleep with him tonight, he'll end it."

"He's horny, but he'll get over it."

Diana looks at me like she's a medium. She shrugs as she picks up the remote and turns on the television. Before she turns her full attention to it, she says, "Goners."

- - -

I've been dating John for three months.

We met when I'd be coming out of my American Lit class and he'd be waiting in the hall, next door, for his. We'd smile at each other. One day he said, "We've got to stop meeting like this."

Corny, but that worn-out line made me feel like any normal girl.

Eventually, he asked me to lunch where I learned he was from Minnesota.

"How'd you end up here?" I asked. I was always surprised that anyone had heard of my hometown.

"The engineering program. One of the best in the country. " He asked where I was from.

"Here," I said.

"You didn't think about going somewhere else? Another city? State?"

I shook my head and tried not to laugh. The college campus was big and scary.

"Family here?"

I grunted. "Let's just say, people I'm related to by blood."

"Rough childhood?"

My mouth opened. Secrets ready to gush forth, an ugly pact willing to go public. But I stopped myself, remembered my counselor's ideas about sabotage.

"You work extra hard to give people reason to reject you in the very beginning."

I told her I was just sharing who I was.

"There's no reason to share your childhood, at least not in the very beginning of any relationship."

"But it's like I'm lying."

Gail had simply stared at me. "You are a bright woman. You're pretty and witty and very compassionate. Show people that side."

So I glanced over at John, smiled the most brilliant of smiles and shook my head. "It doesn't matter cause it made me what I am. And I'm quite wonderful."

Something happened behind his eyes (maybe he thought 'schizo,' but I didn't care; it felt differently wonderful presenting myself as not perpetually flawed) and he grinned back.

"I'm not arguing that," he said. "Not at all."

And that is why I'm not telling him anything, yet.

I've learned.

I'd shared my past with guys before him, hoping they'd cut me some slack in the sexual demand arena, hoping they'd understand the confusion, the deep yearning to be held first, the need to share what was in my heart and in my head, not just between my legs, but that has yet happen. Some disappeared when their sexual desires overshadowed any feeling they might've had for me. A few left cause they were grossed out. Two asked if I'd liked it.

Like Sophie said, they just don't get it.

Still, I've slept with guys I didn't love. Didn't like. Even hated. But John--

John, I like. John, I could love so I'm working to do this different. I want to be with him, but I want him, even more, to be with me.

- - -

We end up parking. I should probably have not let it come to this, but I love the feel of me in his arms. Back seat and the moment comes when his touch is more insistent and my body prepares to take flight.

"Not yet," I whimper, squirming.

John pulls away, sits up, slams the door with his fist. He accuses me again of teasing.


He glares at me. Reminds me of the deadline.

I pull myself up, scrunch by the door, try to hold off the voices, building.

Goners. It'll hurt more if you have sex with him and he leaves anyway. Fuck,or forget, me.

And the brother in me, urging a decision--and, hopefully, the wrong one--so it can taunt me, for days and months, with the loss--the way John's hand held mine in his jacket pocket, the way John chewed on his cheek when trying to remember, the way John read my poems, said "That guy Walt has nothing on you"--reminding me and making me cry with every gory detail.

About the author:

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is a fiction writer and poet. Her work has appeared in various online and print magazines. She is currently working on a variety of chapbooks and a novel. She can be reached at