by Karissa Chen
He likes to do it from behind. He says it's because he can see your ass better. Those peaches he says. So fucking plump. He likes to grab them when he's pumping into you. He says they're even better than your tits, and he loves your tits.
You let him. You let him even though it hurts and makes your eyes well up. You let him even though you think he's hitting your ovaries and you imagine little white eggs being tossed around like ping pong balls in a lottery draw. You let him even though it means you grab on to the wooden bars of your bed frame until your knuckles turn white. You let him because he says his wife never does.
In the mornings, he's always gone, either back to the firehouse to do his heroic duties or back to the little apartment he shares with her to do his relationship duties. You imagine him fucking her, staring into her eyes, brushing hair out of her face, kissing her on the lips, and it makes you want to vomit. You like it better this way, you tell yourself. You like it better that you don't have to cook him eggs or wash his dirty underwear or deal with his morning breath. That's for her to do. This means you can wear tight tops and put on heavy eyeliner. This means you can let men buy you shots of Patron and hand out your fake phone number. This means you can have a life of your own.
Nobody knows you fuck him. Not your friends, not your family. Nobody. It's a secret, a well-kept one, although you've long ago forgotten if it's for his sake or for yours. You've stopped asking him when he's going to leave her. You've stopped asking most questions, actually. He calls you when he's off shift, and you leave the office, go home and wait for him. Sometimes, you think that for once you should drop the phone, not pick up, delete his number, tell him you're busy. But none of those things ever happen, and he keeps showing up at your door. She thinks he's got a double shift he says. She thinks he's at the station. You've long stopped feeling guilty about the deceit.
The thing is, you know you should quit it, but you can't. And it has nothing to do with the way he looks in his uniform, or the fact that his ass is actually cuter than yours, or the way your head fits perfectly into the nook under his collarbone. And it's beyond the fact that he laughs so easy, or the fact that he tells a good story, or the fact that he does a crossword faster than anyone you've ever met. You can't put your finger on it, why you're addicted, why you can't get away, why you can't stop. But sometimes you think maybe it has everything to do with the fact that he walks through fires every day and doesn't get burned, while you're like a moth to a flame.
At night, under the moonlight, he glows.
Sometimes weeks go by without him calling. Those are the times when you can't stop picturing things in your head. During those days, whenever you hear the sound of city sirens going by you can't help but look for him in the blur of red and black and yellow and silver outside your window. You almost hope that he's in some sort of fiery hell and not home with her. Not because you hope he'll get hurt. But because in those moments you kind of think you're in there with him. You've been there for so long. And you keep wondering when he's going to come and save you.
Five weeks ago, you peed on a little white stick and watched as a little pink plus sign appeared from the ether of white. The thought crossed your mind that maybe he banged you too hard one of those nights and an egg popped out just in time to meet a persevering swimmer. You couldn't stop thinking about it, this little ball of nothingness clinging tenuously along the walls of your body somewhere, trying really hard to grow up. And in a way, you liked it.
You waited for him to call. And you couldn't help it - you thought about if it would have your dark hair but his green eyes, if it would have your olive skin but his smattering of freckles, if it would have your dimples but his laughter. You wondered if he'd let you name it Jack after your dad or Olivia after your mom. And of course - of course! - you wondered if he'd finally leave her behind.
But he doesn't call. And a week goes by and then another. And by the time he finally calls, the little ball of nothing has been sucked away, tossed into a biohazard waste bin. Gone, like it never existed.
He doesn't offer an explanation for his absence. He tells you there were "things". Things like fires or things like wife, he doesn't say. You want to tell him you had "things" too, but that now they're gone and maybe they weren't even your right to have in the first place. But you don't. You hold your tongue.
You don't tell him when he undresses you. When he pulls the tank top off over your head and squeezes your breasts. Or when he bites your earlobe and tells you how sexy you are. You don't say anything when he pulls off your shorts and pushes a finger inside you, then two.
When he pulls you down on top of him, when you feel him probing for access against your thigh, when your head is hanging over his and you can see his eyes shining with lust and desire, you almost do. You want to drive it into him, you want to bury him with it.
The paper gown. The poster of the beach. The whirring sound, the sucking sound. The three-hundred and eighty-two bumps on the ceiling. The nurse saying Don't cry honey, we're almost through. The pop.
But then he's pulling away, telling you how much he wants you, and you swallow your words. And then he's squeezing your ass with his thighs, telling you how much he's missed them peaches, and you bite your lip. By the time he's entered you, by the time he's slapping himself against you, he has said all the things you once wanted to hear. Everything save one. And you have told him nothing.
He likes fucking you from behind, so you let him. You let him so that he'll never know you cry, every single time.
About the author:
Karissa Chen lives in New Jersey, writes in New York City and is getting her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has previously appeared in Two Hawks Quarterly and she is currently working on a novel. This story was first written on a shady gypsy bus at two in the morning after four pints of beer. When she's not writing at odd hours of night, Karissa can be found wherever there is good food, karaoke or football. Her professional website is forthcoming, but for now, you can find her personal musings at http://karismeansgrace.wordpress.com.