By Maria Elisa Beth
“Desiree, I have a present for you.” He jumped out of bed.
****, I’d forgotten Valentine’s day. Was it enough that I’d taken him out for subs before we began this all out sexfest? Oddly enough, it was almost a relief when he pulled out what appeared to be a knife handle.
He smiled as he pushed the button that made the silver blade pop out at me.
I felt my stomach lurch, as I mumbled, “Nice.”
He played with the blade, having it switch in and out three times, as I thought about what had led us to this point.
I’d done my hair up nicely for a definite Mr. Wrong. This would probably be our last date and I was celebrating with curls and new spritzing spray. What the hell, though? It looked nice for once and I was almost off work.
That was when this man-child approached me. He looked like a photo negative of Brad Pitt in “Legends of the Fall”. He had this long dark hair, and extremely pale skin. It really was a surreal combination and so I tried to focus on my computer and not stare at him. What really bothered me about him was that ridiculous jaw line. How can a guy walk around with a jaw line that begs for attention like that? Between that and the big pouty lips, I pretty much dismissed him immediately.
“I like your hair. It reminds me of the double-helix strands in DNA.” He said, standing next to my desk.
I smiled in what I hoped to be a polite way, mostly to keep from laughing. Admittedly a weird comment, I thought, dragging my eyes from my computer screen to meet his blue grey stare. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Good looking guys annoy me and I try to avoid them, but the ones that have thought going on behind really nice looking eyes? Forget it, I’m hooked.
I’m not a slut though, so I met him for coffee. We met a few times, and I remember waiting with anticipation for his tall, thin frame as he walked through the door. It wasn’t good looks exactly that captivated everyone’s glance as he walked in. It was more a sense of translucence about him. It was almost as if he were a stranger in our world. Just when you felt too weirded out by his intenseness, he would smile and it was an endearing combination of boyhood nervousness and manly good looks.
During these times, I noticed how quiet he was. He had to move his hair to watch me with those cautious grey eyes. His long fingers were white and clean, as they tangled around his coffee cup. He would tear up when he talked about his mother. He got anxious whenever a stranger talked to him. Hell, he was nervous just ordering coffee.
He had odd interests like the Renaissance, Marilyn Manson, and vampires. So when he mentioned his weapon collection, I guess I had a mental picture of shields and swords from the Renaissance period. It was interesting and I’d always enjoyed Renaissance Festivals, so I was curious.
After about our fourth coffee meeting, he invited me to his apartment to view his collection. I followed him there with an odd mixture of nervousness and elation.
Most 23 year old guys have messy apartments, and his held the usual collection of stray socks on the floor, CDS strewn by the computer, and boxes full of clothing and books.
What surprised me was that he had one sole piece of furniture, other than a computer desk, and that was a futon mattress thrown on the floor. Surrounding the thin mattress, there were various boxes that were about a foot long each in length. He began to pull out the knives as I began to weigh my risk. He was quiet, not upset in any way, and so I took him to be a nice guy with odd interests. He seemed to be generally misunderstood.
It was a while before he kissed me and we passed quickly into a state of inseparability. I would watch him eat gyros in fascination. Sauce would drip down his chin and oddly enough, it wasn’t gross.
Had I been looking for signs of our descent, I could have easily found them in his eyes. They moved from a deep, caring blue-grey to steel so quickly that it often took me by surprise. Several times I wondered what I’d done wrong to cause such an intense change in his mood.
Many times I saw the hatred in his eyes that usually arrived about an hour after a great vulnerability. Sex, weeping, sincere discussion all brought about these times of argument for us. We would get closer and then in fear, he would strike out with a verbal terrorism that kept us apart for days. It was after one such argument that I came to check on him. I found him in a corner, his thin white knees drawn up to this head as he picked at the carpet distractedly. He only wore shorts. His hair was not brushed and wild about his face. It was late afternoon and so this was weird and I felt oddly overdressed.
He looked so desperately sad that I couldn’t leave him. I didn’t touch him, though I wanted to hold him, I knew that he wouldn’t find comfort in it. We talked for over an hour, debating the real value of life. He seemed almost suicidal, yet too careless to be serious.
I left because I had to go, though we’d reached no firm conclusion. Even though he used my name when he thanked me for coming by, I knew that he was pissed off because I was leaving. I had other commitments and he demanded all my time, but then got annoyed when I gave it to him. I knew as I left this could never be a serious attachment for me. I had no idea what he really wanted, but I knew that I didn’t have it. It was something that was missing within himself.
I hadn’t seen him since that night as I felt it better to stay away. I’d heard that he’d moved to another town and I felt an odd sense of relief, until he’d called me on the pretext of catching up. The next thing I knew, I was driving a whole hour to see him again.
The glint of the knife in the light brought me out of memory, and back to present danger. Carefully, slowly, and without much thought I removed the covers and spread my legs slowly. His eyes moved from a fascination with the steel blade in his hand to my body.
His attention diverted, as he dropped the knife on the carpet to join me. We both felt an odd release after our heated debate within the sheets and I tried to appear casual as he left the bed to shower. He looked at me on the bed and asked, “Are you upset?”
“No.” I said softly, though I’d wrapped the covers around myself.
“You look violated.” He said with a laugh, and disappeared for the bathroom.
It took me less than a minute to grab my things, still adjusting my dress as I ran for the car. I considered locking the door behind me, then felt it an odd consideration since I felt like I was fleeing for my life. Something dangerous had passed through his eyes, and he’d hurt me whenever possible. I felt like he was trying to move on to the point of no return. It almost made sense that we would end it at the point of a steel blade where it had all begun.
It was an hour long drive home. I knew that he would be pissed, but he wouldn’t follow me. He’d gotten what he wanted. Besides, in most ways I was usually intelligent, and he had no idea whether I was pissed, tired, or may have called the cops. Somehow I thought that he would consider himself lucky, as though I’d removed the temptation and saved him from himself.
I listened to the Chili Peppers sharing their scars, and rummaged through my purse for a smoke. I had acquired a taste for small peach flavored cigars. I enjoyed them because it was like inhaling a dessert, a feminine nail in the coffin. My hands were still shaking and my eyes darted around the scenery for distraction.
January in South Dakota with a full moon provided only desolation. I smiled as I noticed the lack of animals; cows, squirrels, deer, all were gone. I thought of them scurrying to find warmer soil and laughed. We humans were supposed to be the smart ones.
Halfway through the cigar, I began to think about when I’d started using sex to preserve myself. It began at age seven, mostly to try to keep peace in a household that held none. I couldn’t avoid him because we were related and I couldn’t tell because no one seemed to care. Every time it happened, I looked up at the cheap imitation of a chandelier above my parent’s bed and hoped for an escape. It never came.
It wasn’t a choice at that point. This time it was. To have sex and live, or to die by mutilation with a knife? Had there really been a choice?
I couldn’t cry as I looked at the snow covered terrain. I felt at home in the desolation of the moonlit snow covered plains. I was unsure if the Chili Peppers could even melt my heart at this point. This was the reality of life and I knew that I would move on and go to work tomorrow as if nothing had happened. I’d been in training for some time now. I had a diploma in denial.
But I wouldn’t see him again. Through the cigar smoke, I felt a sense of self preservation.