Pieces

by Aixa De La Cruz

plath

When I invite her in I stutter and I almost make a mistake and ask her to take off her long dark gloves. They match the evening gown she’s chosen for the occasion: a sunny summer morning. I keep the rage at bay by swallowing an abnormal amount of saliva. I’m becoming an animal, a dog, I think. As I kiss her I start thinking that clenching my maws like this hurts. Then I correct myself: jaws, I still have jaws.
The kiss was aimed at her cheeks, but she twists her neck and our lips meet. I don’t back off, but I keep them closed. I inhale her perfume and it dilates my nostrils, it goes down my throat with the disinfecting power of a breath mint. Fleetingly, I remember that I used to love this woman. The slightest touch of her skin – the slightest touch of her fingers, I think and tremble – would drive me crazy. But now that her tongue tries to break my barriers a shiver shakes my body and it’s not desire, but fear.
How did we get here? The question is ludicrous. Setting aside the particularities of our situation, this is a universal mystery. Why does love come to an end? A pop song. I close my eyes and try to relax, imagine I’m somewhere else, with another woman. Hold on to sensations, I tell myself. Hold on to the humidity of her lips on your ear lobe; her breath, which tickles. The pressure of her breasts against your bones. Stop trembling, you idiot. And help her untie your pants, she’s crippled.
I can’t visualize any face or body other than the one I’m feeling. But I can see her as she was back then, the day I met her. Still a teenager, sitting on the stairs of the statue of the virgin in Portugalete, she wore the traditional sea woman costume with a postmodern twist: blue skirt over lace knickerbockers, tight tiny white top, high heels. It wasn’t just her. During the town festivities, all the teenagers usually adapted the look of their ancestors to the aesthetics of the 21st century. Identically uniformed as they were, looking at that swarm made me dizzy. Later, when I licked her all over, she didn’t taste like sweat, but like the sea. I probably got this impression out of the reminiscences invoked by her costume and the setting, but it sounds romantic, nonetheless.
I respond to her strokes. I’d like to show some resistance, but it is not that easy: she knows me. I’ve lost my shirt and my pants are stuck in my ankles. She touches my erection and I wonder what it will be like to feel her without the intermission of the fabric, whether she will take off her gloves eventually.
Although I still don’t want to open my eyes, I picture her kneeling in front of me. She takes my cock and licks it from bottom to top, slowly, very slowly. I can’t believe it but in a second I’ve forgotten about everything: the fights, the blows, the shouts and the final silence, that was a trap, but I didn’t know that yet. I couldn’t know it. Imagination has its limits; otherwise, it’s not imagination, but madness.
She moves her hair off her face and combs it into a ponytail. Without using her hands, with no warning, she devours me. Her lips touch my pubis. She stays there. I growl and open my eyes because of that voyeuristic pleasure. Fear makes its way back in the shape of a particular thought: she’s going to bite me. She’s going to clench her jaws and trap my cock as quickly and efficiently as a snare. I can picture it: she slowly stands up, my flap between her teeth, and she faces me with the proud countenance of a cat who has just hunted. The squeamishness I feel is terrible and everything comes down: my erection, my mood and even some tears. They go down my cheeks as the stream of saliva going through my groin.
«What’s wrong, my love?» Still on her knees, she looks at me with the blessed expression women have when they look up to the sky. I crouch down as well – it’d be more precise to say that I fall apart, I slide down the wall like a greasy spot – and I bury my head in her breasts. «I want to see them… I want to see your hands,» I sob. «Are you sure?» She pushes me away and makes me look in her eyes, so blue it’s scary. She looks like an alien spy on earth.
«It’s OK. But, please, don’t lose your grip.» She slowly takes off her left glove. The fabric uncovers her forearm, the Sylvia Plath tattoo, the thin wrist, the blue veins. It falls to the ground and I don’t breathe. «What do you think?» Her hand is on my lap. I watch in detail the cuts on the index and little fingers, on the third phalanx. The surface of the limbs reminds me of cigarette burns. The skin has begun to cover the bone at the edges, but its core remains naked; it’s an irregular segment with white spots like ashes. «It’s awful», I mumble, and the next think I know, I’m crying once again.
I think that her limbs are the site of trauma.
My site of trauma is this hall we’re in, some months ago.
Our story is how my trauma and her trauma intertwine, becoming forever linked.
I jump onto her and she isn’t ready to meet the weight of my body. She shouts out of surprise and hits her head against the ground. I can’t measure my strength as I tear the buttons that tie her dark gown to her neck. There’s also a zip but I dismiss it. I loosen the neckline to free her breasts and roll up the skirt. The hem reaches her head; she looks like a small bell. I push aside the fabric of her knickers and move into her. One, two, three, four thrusts that rip her up and I’m done. I crumble on her body and I know my thorax is suffocating her, but I stay there for a few seconds. I had never come so quickly, not with her.
She combs my hair with her intact hand. «Everything’s going to be OK», she whispers. «Every couple has its ups and downs.» I look at her and her expression and I see delirium. She’s a madwoman at peace. She’s a fundamentalist. The term kamikaze comes to my mind; somehow, it seems more appropriate than suicidal. Maybe because suicidal is a common term and our situation is anything but ordinary. I can still see this. But I know that her long-term purpose is to make me lose all perspective. She wants me to play her game, to naturalise the sickness. But it’s going to take some time. As long as it takes my memory to blur the details.
Details like this: the first box I received was pink and came wrapped in Christmas paper. On the inside: two long and polished fingernails. Shreds of meat attached to the cuticle. And a hand-written note: let me go home.
We are still lying on the ground. I’d like to smoke a cigarette, so that I can do something with my hands, but it’s Sunday and all the shops are closed. I move closer to her legs and she trembles. I stroke the inner part of her thighs and reach her crotch, which is wet and slippery. I wonder whether it’s difficult for her to masturbate now that she’s got eight fingers instead of ten. I shiver as if I were cold.
I know. I know a time will come when I’ll be able to remember what she has done without feeling sick. It would be helpful to know the details in depth. Why she choose her hands and not her feet. Why not the teeth. An ear? I’d like to see the pliers she used to make the cuts. To feel the edge. Tell me about the pain. What does it taste like. I vomited a mash of beans after unwrapping the second box, right on the spot where we’re now lying.
Her breath quickens and I quicken my movements accordingly. I think of love, that odd convention I have completely ceased to understand. It’s like a hotchpotch of pathologies: mania, obsession, chemical maladjustments, self-destructive behaviours, dissolution of the ego. When she reaches orgasm, she stretches her insteps and they’re so arched that her big toe touches the ground without raising her heels. It seems like she was afraid of flying and had therefore multiplied her supporting points. I find it funny and I smile.
I mean: I smile. As if there were any hope for us to go on living our lives in a casual fashion. Smiling.
«I need to go back to the car to pick up my things», she tells me after a while. «Have you made room in the closet? » If this goes wrong and I can’t put up with the pressure and I end up killing her, I will regret my decision. I will regret having stopped her from cutting herself into pieces. But it’s too late to back down. «I’ve emptied the lower drawers, » I answer.
She stands up and her feet are by my ears. I turn towards them and kiss her ankles, the insteps and the toes. «Stop it! You’re tickling me, » she complains. But I like her feet. Intact, unharmed, they make me proud. I have rescued them from an imminent savagery, so now they’re mine.

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