Breadcrumb #159

JEN WINSTON

You’re inside me and it feels like warm lightning. I’ve wanted this for six months — 180 sets of 24 hours that have felt somewhere in the range of 15 years — though I don’t dare say those numbers out loud. I don’t dare say anything, even though I can tell you’ve wanted this, too. And I can tell you’ve wanted this because you do dare say something.

    “Monica,” you moan, grabbing my face. “I can’t believe it’s really you.”

    I can’t believe it’s me either, here under you. Under the boy in the blue sweater, the boy I know I first saw on a Tuesday because that’s the day of the week our new employees start. You were dressed too casually for your first day, and so you sunk into yourself ever-so-slightly, standing in the supply room with your supervisor, Ray —tall, lanky, and very married Ray, whom I’d written off a long time ago. You were looking at office supplies, nodding, and I imagined you were plotting which ones you would steal and take home, because I imagined you were a rebel. Tonight, when I saw those ballpoint BIC pens on your dresser, I smiled. Though I would have preferred you steal non-BIC pens, at least they meant that I was right.

    We talked that one time in the elevator, and then that other time in the kitchen. I thought we were flirting but could never be sure — in the office, who’s to tell what’s a flirt and what’s a small talk? With you, to me, “how was your weekend” never meant “how was your weekend.” It meant take me now, I need you, and yes, fuck, yes, let’s both feel less alone.

    I never go to coworkers’ birthday parties, but I went to Ray’s. So did you. Jungle juice is holy water for the horny.

    “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” you ask me when we’re done, my arm lying across your chest like an L, the best Tetris piece. It feels funny to make small talk with you in this context, the naked context, but I tell you: I’m going home.

    “I didn’t know you were from Utah,” you say, and look deep into me. There’s a lot you don’t know, I think to myself. I see you five days a week, but somehow, I feel mysterious. 

_____

    My mom picks me up from the airport, as she always does when I come home for the holidays. I want to tell her about you, but know that would be dumb.

    “I had very good sex last night, mom.”

    “That’s great, honey! With whom?”

    “With a coworker.”

    “Naughty girl! Tsk-tsk. How’s Applebee’s for dinner?”

    We are home together for three days before Grandpa dies. It’s not a surprise — he was very old — but no one thought he was mortal. My mom cries more than any of us expect her to.

    “I didn’t know I’d be this sad,” even she says, blowing her nose. “It’s selfish of me, really. He was here for 94 years and I still wanted him to hang around.”

    I skip two days of work. Family first, sure, but I also kind of want to be having sex with you. I draft you an email.

    Subject line: “Did you know the office supply room has a door?”
    Body: “And it locks.”

    I feel a hiccup between my legs. Then my mom walks in, not a trace of mascara on her eyes, which strikes me as sadder than smeared makeup would be. She wants us to go clean out grandpa’s house.

    “Right now?” I ask, annoyed, then realize I should have nothing better to do. I hit discard.

_____

    When I’m back at the office, I avoid you. Not because I don’t want to see you, but because my grandpa keeps popping into my head, and also it’s even trickier now, making the flirting vs. small talk distinction. Do you want it to happen again? Do you want to learn more secrets about me, and give me some of yours? I’m chill either way, I’ll say. We have to play the game.

Do you want to learn more secrets about me, and give me some of yours?

    The next day you wear the blue sweater, as if to bribe me into talking to you. It works. Thanks to free pizza, we run into each other in the kitchen, and the sweater is such a trigger for me that I say “Hi” at you with disdain in my voice. You notice it, and look at me surprised. Y u mad tho? I’m not sure. I think it’s because I’m thinking of my mom, and then I feel guilty about wanting you to bend me over against the counter. But is it really my fault? I wonder. In spite of mom’s thin, pale eyelashes, you are still wearing that sweater. 

    The next night, I talk to my mom on the phone for an hour and a half. It isn’t fun, but I can tell it helps her, and that curbs my guilt. I did what I could, at least for today, so now I can be selfish.
When I text you, you say you’ll be free to hang out in two hours, at 11:30. I have an early morning spin class, and if I miss it, they’ll charge me $30.

    “Cool,” I say, even though it isn’t, really.

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