I want to buy you. I want to buy you like you live on a shelf. A proper exchange. A reaction for an action. You’d be like a can of beans: neatly contained and familiar on the outside, simple and sweet when I open you up.
“Get in the car,” Josiah says when he picks me up for dinner, “and make sure your feet aren’t dirty.” I found him at a pawn shop a while back, searching for a cheap hammer. He looked good on the outside. Shirt tucked into jeans with pocket flaps, hair like pipe cleaners, shoelaces tied too tightly. He bought the hammer for 59 cents. I said I’d be his girlfriend three weeks later.
I found him at a pawn shop a while back, searching for a cheap hammer.
Every inhalation is a sign you still exist, for good or for bad. When it rains, sometimes I go outside and pretend to understand you. Like the skies have opened to tell me all about you in earthly terms. The wetness makes me feel vulnerable.
“Fuck life! Fuck it and all that it means and all that it stands for and everything so beautiful and contingent and arbitrary and dark about it!” I’ll say. But I’ll feel like I wasted my time. My feet hot and musty in my rain boots, my hair shrinking into unmanageable kinks, sagging shoulders, and streaks on my glasses. You always make it look so easy.
This time, Josiah drives me to the corner of Big Tall Grass and Potholed Road, and he tells me sex is always consensual in a relationship. He unzips me. He’s huffing. A little sweat drips off his bristly face and onto my nipple and his elbow hits the windshield when he wipes it off. The leather seat is sticking to my thigh like Velcro. I’m all curled up in the front seat, a fetus or a dying insect. I can’t tell if I’m close to death or close to living. The top of my head is pressed up against the window, leaving grease marks on the glass. But upside down I can see, perched on the car’s side mirror, breast puffed out and proud, a tiny red bird watching.
I’m all curled up in the front seat, a fetus or a dying insect. I can’t tell if I’m close to death or close to living.
There are times when I’ll feel like I’m in control, like a meteorologist with her forecasts and clicker beckoning graphic thunderstorms and happy, swirling winds.
“Scissors, girlie. Scissors?” Josiah says. His hair is grimy, hands calloused. I’ve been with him for too long: three years, two months now. He and I live together in a cramped one-story house. I just put a scratch along the left side of his neck that hides beneath his unkempt locks. I’ve got you now, I think halfheartedly. But Josiah rubs his neck, bangs on the wall, and says he likes the fight in me. And I’m staring at him—me, girlie, scissors tight in my hand, wishing someone content lived in that lonely, empty house of his and mine.
This is my purchase: I have you, still. My hope is my payment.
Yves Jeffcoat is a writer and digital publisher in Atlanta. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Bitter Southerner and Deer Bear Wolf Magazine.
Illustration by Meghan Murphy.