There is a photograph your father used to keep in his wallet of you standing next to a dead deer. Or, I suppose, it wasn’t really simply dead as much as it was mutilated: gutted out and just a skin hanging upside down, swaying back and forth like a piñata. Your father made you pose next to it. I can’t recall your face for some reason, only your tiny girl fingers, painted with hot glitter pink polish, barely grazing the deer’s side, which was all matted with blood. The pink and red faded into one another. Your nails could have been painted with blood. My memory is not as good as it used to be.
This morning, I woke up thinking about that picture. It made me want to cry. I didn’t want to be one of those men who cry over thoughts or memories, though, so I tried to remember why your father ever showed me the photo. What prompted him to unfold it and slide it across his dining room table, toward me,and why he even carried it to begin with.
As you know, I don’t have anything in my wallet. Half of the time, I don’t even have a dollar. Just my ID and what seems like a century-old condom, all creased and dried out.
If I become like your old man one day, I guess, I could just whip out the condom and say, “Here is my self-portrait. What do you think?”
Maybe your father is a psychic. Maybe he was trying to show me my future. The future wedding picture we’d never take, because these days, I feel a lot like that deer. For too long, I was preoccupied, didn’t hear the crunching of leaves, and by the time that I did, it was much too late.
Now I am gutted out, and you won’t even touch me with your beautiful woman hands one last time. Those hands, the ones that touch other women. Caress pale, soft, hairless bodies. The same bodies I like to touch.
Really, I can’t blame you. I can only understand your desire.
The night you told me you liked women, I sped through town until I found a gun shop. The owner, a man in flannel with a cigarette laugh, showed me his entire inventory. I imagined myself alone in the woods with a hunting rifle, firing at birds and rabbits. Killing every small thing because I could. Before the man unlocked the hunting rifles, three old hunters in orange jackets came in. They hollered and bragged about their kills. I must still have half a conscience, because I just couldn’t go through with it. Those men made me sick.
I don’t want to be the man you can’t respect. I don't even want to be your old man.
I just want to be a better man. Not only for you, but for every future woman who might reach out and touch me at the end of the day. Because if I have blood on my flesh, surely those fingers will flinch away. I will never be touched and I want more than anything to be touched.
All rights reserved to Amarie Fox.
Illustrations by Meghan Murphy