Took 50mg of Ambien alone in my room. I texted some guy I had been seeing for about ~three weeks. He texted back fast. I asked him to meet me outside even though it was February and minus 30 degrees out. He agreed. I put on a tank top and took my hair out of a ponytail and grabbed my poetry anthology textbook, for some reason.
I don’t remember walking around campus with him but I remember sitting on a ledge and smoking a cigarette and reading him “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton. He said, “That’s sad,” and then he said, “I’ll read something to you now.” I don’t remember what he read to me. We sat there for ~10 minutes before I said his name and he said “Yeah” and I told him it’s okay if he kissed me now. He said he was waiting to do it later which made me feel ashamed of myself, for some reason, for letting him think that there would be a “later.” He kissed me. His mouth was very wet and he grabbed the back of my head while we kissed which I didn’t like. His bottom lip curled into mine which felt forced and awkward. He asked me if I wanted to spend the night at his place. I said yes.
We went to his place. His room was clean, cleaner than mine. “My bed,” he said, “is much bigger than yours.” We started kissing on his bed. I was sitting down and he was standing up. I briefly touched his crotch. I looked down and there was a big wet spot where his penis was and also I could tell that he had an erection. He took off his pants and I took off my shirt and then he took off his underwear. I gave him three blow jobs in a row. I was half-naked and he was fully naked, I was crouching on his bed and he was laying down. When he finished we both lay down together. I asked him if he loved me. He said, “It’s too early for that.” He asked me if I liked his cock. I didn’t respond. It was three AM and he turned off the lights because he had a midterm the next morning. There was cum all over his bedsheets. He told me he wanted me on top of him while we slept but I told him that I was tired and I’d be more comfortable this way, facing the wall, away from him where he couldn’t see me. The next morning I dressed in a place where he couldn’t see me dressing and I told him I didn’t love him and left. When I got back to my place I saw a girl who lived on my floor and she said I didn’t look so good and asked me if I were okay. I said yes and smiled. I got back to my room and texted him and asked him if we had sex. All he said was, “No.” I took a pregnancy test just in case. It came out negative. There was nothing inside of me.
* * *
My best friend’s brother was in the city visiting for the weekend which also happened to be the weekend of my 19th birthday. We went to a bar in Quebec and I ordered him a tequila shot and I drank too much vodka. When we got home, at two AM, my best friend and another friend of ours went to her room to smoke weed. I was drunk and tired and I went to my room and her brother followed me in and we started kissing on my bed. He was a very good kisser and he put his hand in between my legs while he kissed me. His lips felt good against mine but I kept thinking of someone else. He asked me if I wanted to have sex and I asked him if it was okay if we just cuddled. He started kissing me even more and then said that he’d have sex with me right now if I wanted to. I didn’t say anything and he kissed me again and I wasn’t thinking of him. Finally I sat up and told him that he was my best friend’s brother and that I didn’t feel like I could do this right now and that it would be a good idea if he left. He said fine and I told him that I could keep a secret if he could. He didn’t say anything. He slammed the door on his way out. I made my bed even though I had already made it that morning. I had a lot of trouble sleeping and I was still thinking of someone else.
* * *
I had drank three PBRs in a park with him earlier and now we were sitting on a patio drinking beer—I forget what kind—and he ordered wings. I watched him eat them and I stole a carrot from his plate. I was also smoking a cigarette. He looked hesitant and he said, “The way you—wait, no, I shouldn’t say it,” and because that bothered me I said, “No, say it,” and he said, “The way you smoke your cigarette is very sexy.” He also said I was desirable and very pretty. I said I didn’t think I was pretty and he said, “Don’t be stupid.” He said he really wanted to have sex with me and it was ruining his life because he had a girlfriend. When I said I didn’t think I was sexy or desirable he said that I was incredibly desirable and that he always wondered what it would be like to have his bare chest against mine. He asked me if I really did like him and I said yes. He said, “So then kiss me” and I said there was too much table in between us but he didn’t hear me. So I got up from the table and kissed him, and then kissed him again. He asked me what I wanted to do and I said, “We can go to a park and just kiss or something.” He said he was thinking the same thing and I got up to pee and he drank the rest of my beer and paid the bill.
We held hands as we walked to the park and we sat down in the grass even though it was muddy. I took off my glasses. He sat down with his feet underneath his ass. He told me I had to come closer and I did. He started kissing me. His eyes were closed but mine were open. I felt empty but I tried not to feel it and I cupped his crotch and he said, “oh God” a couple of times and then just started moaning. I licked his neck and he said, “Don’t give me a hickey, don’t make my life difficult” so I stopped. He then started licking my neck and then said, “I think I might have given you a slight hickey.” We lay down on the grass and he asked me if it would be okay if he put his head in between my legs. I said yes. He touched me and then started kissing my chest and my neck and again my face. When the hour was up he said he was going to write me something and he took out a notebook and pen and I lay down in the grass while he played me music. It was a Radiohead song that he had covered. The sun was setting in between the leaves of the trees that were above me and I thought about shamefulness.
After I read the letter I tried to kiss him again but he backed away. He said something about loyalty and that we could only kiss with our mouths closed. I kissed him with my mouth closed and then we decided to walk back to the bus stop. On the bus I touched his chest but he picked up my hand and put it down on my lap and said, “Don’t get used to it,” which made me sad but also embarrassed because the bus was pretty full. Before we got on the subway he told me not to tell anyone and to keep it a secret and I thought about shame and about lies and how many lies I’ve probably told in my entire life. He hugged me and I got on the subway. I thought about PBR and felt empty. I tried to feel full by leaning my head against the window and closing my eyes. I started to cry a little bit which bothered me for obvious reasons. When I got off the subway I touched my mouth with my index finger and wondered if his saliva was still there. That night I took a two-hour-long shower but I didn’t know if I wanted to get rid of him or myself. I felt full so I tried to feel empty.
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Author Victoria Linhares replies: “’The Shrinking Lover’ was most definitely inspired by Aimee Bender’s ‘The Rememberer.’ I read ‘The Remember’ a few weeks before I wrote my story; I liked the vision I had while I read it and felt the need to re-create the same thing. It might sound very stereotypical, but as soon as I read it I felt the need to write something—not exactly like it—but similar, because I felt like the story captured my emotions about the past few weeks so vividly. When I wrote ‘The Shrinking Lover’ (and when I read Aimee Bender) most of my writing and most of my thoughts were about loss and losing and what happens to people when they lose something that is important to them. ‘The Shrinking Lover’ was just an attempt to answer that question. Thanks for reading!”
My lover is shrinking more and more each day.
On the sixth day he was only three feet tall. You could barely make him out in a crowd. I had to adjust the chairs at the kitchen table so he could climb up on them. He is, often, very self-conscious of his size. He knows that within a few days he will be no more than a speck of dust left on the floor of our apartment. I put away the mops and the dusters, just in case.
* * *
The first time we met was at a strip mall where I worked. He was buying new shoes. I asked him his size. He said, “Nine.” My shrinking lover is now a mere size four, drastically different from the first time we met. I tell him I’ll always remember the number nine both as the first time we met and the person he was. He tells me not to think of who we were as what we are.
Nowadays we go to that same strip mall and sit on the benches, not buying a thing, but listening to strangers speak.
* * *
On the 13th day he wakes me up in the middle of the night. He says he needs a glass of water. I get it for him. He can’t reach the refrigerator anymore. I know that, in the morning, he will be shrunk down at least a few inches. I stretch my body to touch my feet to his underneath the sheets, to remind myself that skin can still wrap around itself.
* * *
The first time we made love my body prickled and pulsed under the weight of his. He was still bigger than me, broader. I was underneath covers because I was afraid of him seeing all of me. He pulled back the blanket and looked at my naked body underneath the light of a lamp.
“You’re beautiful,” he said.
“No, I’m not,” I said.
* * *
Nowadays I wonder if anybody appreciates the blood leaking out of their own orifices, reminding themselves that their lovers could hurt them in such physical ways, bound by their own desire, pleading with themselves to stop the pain just long enough to release their own relief.
* * *
We speak of amusement parks. He is too small to ride a roller coaster. On the twelfth day he is just bigger than my arm. I am reminded of the times we would sit, cross-legged, on the cold floor of our bathroom, tracing the grime between the tiles, and we would think about losing.
“Losing something is just gaining something else,” he said.
“But why would you want to lose someone you know to gain something you don’t know?”
Nowadays I memorize the ways people leave, so that one day I can do the same.
* * *
On the fifteenth day, my shrinking lover is just smaller than a newborn baby. I can no longer feel the weight of him lying on the bed next to me. In the early morning he asks me to take him to the front porch so I can hold him while he watches the sun rise with tiny eyes. Soon he will be too small to hold. Soon no one could touch him lest he would break.
I understood the part about breaking.
* * *
Twenty-one days later my shrinking lover has shrunk down to his smallest size. I know it’s his smallest size because it is the smallest he can go without not being seen completely. I put him in a Corningware dish and watch his tiny body float around. I can no longer see his sad smile. He looks up at me and says, with a slight laugh, “Have you grown?” He is merely a speck of dust now, and because it scares me, I throw out all the dusters and mops.
* * *
When he has disappeared completely I put away the Corningware dish and think about grime between bathroom tiles and strip malls with so little people in them. I think about size nine feet and making love in between soaking wet sheets, lovers with too much space in between them.
Ivy is writing a poem about me so I can stop feeling sad. Something is wrong with her but we don’t know what it is. She looks up at me and then down again. Sometimes she lets her cigarettes burn out before she finishes smoking them. I don’t say anything, but of course, she’s the one who is dying. We don’t talk about that, though. The dying, I mean. Nobody knows what it is, not even Ivy. She still gets crushes on boys and girls sometimes. I tell her what’s the point and she gestures to the insides of her thighs, laughing. I laugh too. I leave her apartment to see if breathing gets easier. It doesn’t.
* * *
Her stairs are creaky. People are always dropping in. She doesn’t like to socialize that much but when she does it’s something to see. She makes Thai soup and wontons and sings along to every song that comes on the radio, even if she’s never heard it before. Sometimes she taps her foot to the beat but her landlord told her not to do that anymore because the people downstairs were getting annoyed. She doesn’t weigh much but she occupies.
* * *
Ivy is writing a poem about me so I can start feeling hopeful. I lay my head on her shoulder while she writes and it feels like laying your head on the coldness of a car window on a long, long trip. Bumpy and dizzy, but Ivy’s shoulder is softer, and I wonder if I put my lips to her ear would she do the same? If I doze off and wake up, I see that Ivy has wrapped me up in a blanket and gently placed my head somewhere other than her shoulder, like on the edge of the couch, or a textbook, and one time on a frying pan. I woke up and thought she was making breakfast but she wasn’t. There was a little bit of grease on my nose and she rubbed it off before I could notice.
* * *
Ivy is energetic despite her sickness. I sit on the couch and I tell her that there is something inside of me that kills everything that proves there is something inside of me, like electricity, or like death. “Your problem,” she says, “is that you are so afraid of feeling that you don’t feel anything at all.” She cries when her mother calls her, although it doesn’t happen very often. Her joy is louder than the laugh tracks on television. She paints her toenails red and rests her feet on the coffee table even though they’re dirty. She sings aloud to a song she claims is her favorite while I wake up in the frying pan pillow three hours after I’ve fallen asleep, comforted by the soft blanket of the light coming in through Ivy’s window and her incessant humming that goes on and on, forever, seemingly endless.
“I know it’s a frying pan, but I don’t have any extra pillows. I would give you mine, but ever since the diagnosis I’ve been paranoid that people are going to catch what I have. I know it’s silly. The kitchen was right here, too.”
Ivy is writing a poem about me so I can feel alive again. She sings and taps her foot and I want to tell her I would do anything to have what she has but I lay my head on the frying pan and fall asleep.
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Let’s get conspiratorial. It’s just you and me here, right? This is me putting my life on hold and turning my head aside to tell you what’s what. None of them will read this. They’re not Internet People.
I’m going to be direct. No screwing around here on the Internet—just straight real talk.
I’m going to write about the here and now. I won’t mention the past, except to fill in the gaps between now and my most recent post and to tell you what my favorite shows on the WB were when I was 10.
I’m going to have some opinions, and I’m going to assume that you share them. I know that if I articulate them forcefully enough, many of you will be convinced you agree with them and like this post. If you actuallyagree with them, you’ll share the post. If you disagree with them, you’ll ignore the post but still probably not unfollow me, since by expressing a strong opinion with correct grammar, I’ll make you feel like you’re missing something if you stop following me. If you really disagree with me, you’ll leave a comment and/or hate-share the post.
I’m going to swear, so you know I don’t fucking care about those phonies who are afraid what their goddamn bosses will think.
I’m going to tell you what it’s really like to be me. Really.
I’m going to write in short paragraphs.
I’m going to say cutting things about pop culture icons in a way that lets you know I’m following pop culture, but I haven’t been brainwashed by it.
I’m going to drop the names of cool Internet people who follow me.
I’m going to act like I’m right on the verge of giving up and logging off forever, because why should I tell you all this shit?
That’s enough for now. I’m going to do some things with drugs, alcohol, and attractive people. You might never hear from me again.
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There is too much dust.
The dust comprises everything.
I touch the radiator and it’s there and I leave a streak,
a mark on my finger and on the metal.
During dinner I tell the boy I like his pasta.
After, we move into his bedroom where he unzips
my pants like a magic trick.
A disappearing act.
Your body was born a circus, didn’t you know.
He tells me I should watch porn.
He tells me I don’t know
His bedroom is messy. I can feel
coins underneath couch cushions,
but his panting is so loud
I can’t hear the opening act.
Maybe he’s had too many girls.
Maybe the world’s not dead for him,
yet. I don’t feel a thing.
There are dirty dishes stacked
up in his sink. Marvel at my
ability to ignore love-making
to want to grab
and wipe up his counters.
Oh, but this is—
what? This is, well,
love. This is what they
called love. Panting moaning
screaming You should watch porn
and I tell him I don’t, I haven’t
and I never will, wouldn’t.
I think licking out assholes is a dirty
thing to do. He is the kind of boy who wants
to fuck and
He is the kind of boy
that, when you leave,
turns the couch cushions
over so when his girlfriend
gets home she won’t
see the mess he made. Oh,
but this is love, cut
We are almost
at the closing act. When she gets home
their bodies fit
together like two puzzle pieces.
A trapeze swinger and his stuntman,
a magician and his top hat.
I want to wipe
his counters. I want to clean
the dust off. I want to tell
him I’m not his stand-in
during this circus show but he
rips my shirt off
- “The Trapeze Swinger” by Victoria Linhares
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I hate waterskiing. I’ve always hated waterskiing. This has always pained my mom, since it’s one of her favorite summer pastimes. She was one of those people who just “got it,” like riding a bike, at a young age, and now, when she’s getting pulled by a boat she just looks like she’s standing there waiting for the bus. She likes hotshotting across the wake, dropping a ski, spinning around…whatever she can think of to keep herself from being bored while getting pulled across a lake, drunk, at speeds that would be illegal on most city streets with nothing between her and the whipping water but two slats of wood that are perpetually threatening to get caught at the wrong angle and break her ankles.
Mom has tried to buy waterskiing lessons for me multiple times, and I’ve never accepted. This time, though, we were at our annual family resort week without my sister to take any of Mom’s attention. I wanted to get out of the cottage and to interact with other human beings, and Mikey the toned, tanned 30-something waterskiing instructor was pretty much at the top of my list of people in the tri-county area I’d like to be in the immediate proximity of.
He’s the kind of flirtatious goof you know is in his job almost entirely for the captive audience. The kind of guy who knows his element and sticks within it, where he’s confident and relaxed and routinely shirtless. While he coached me on the proper stance, I imagined him tabulating the pros and cons of me in his head. Cons: snobby, pale, stringy-haired. Pros: young, available, maybe has drugs.
He does know his shit, and sure enough, I got up, hating every second of it. I did the bare minimum of water-skiing required of me by the informal terms of my agreement to allow my mother to buy waterskiing lessons for me—I calculated this was 30 seconds—and then let go of the rope, deciding I’d rather take my chances careening off into the depths versus getting involved in whatever was going to happen with my legs when the boat slowed down. I threw my skis into the boat, dropped my exhausted ass into the passenger seat with a loud squelch, and was invited by Mikey to swing by the lodge for cards with him and some other guests that night. Like a McMuffin, I thought: totally fucking predictable, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want it.
By 10:00 that night, Mom was almost passed out in front of the TV and Ron was deep into the latest John Sandford novel on his Kindle. I said I was going to take a walk, and neither barely noticed.
It was easy to find Mikey at the lodge: the front door was locked, but around back the kitchen door was open and Mikey was playing hearts and drinking Busch Light with two twenty-something guys and a blonde woman who I guessed was in her early 30s. Mikey enthusiastically welcomed me and introduced me—hand, of course, in the small of my back—to the team. The guys, Mark and Andy, were on a fishing trip, and the woman, Avery, was in the same situation as me: on vacation with her family, looking to escape.
Mikey tossed me a beer—literally tossed me a beer, probably the first person I’ve ever seen do that in real life—and the hearts game was immediately abandoned for King’s Cup. I barely paid attention to the game, drinking indiscriminately and watching the interpersonal dynamics. Avery was obviously into Mikey, but got the message that he was into me, so tried to get Mark and Andy to compete for her attention. Mark was the better-looking of the two, but Andy had a sly sense of humor that made him more attractive. They were both into me, but over the course of the night Andy started paying more attention to Avery and Mark started flirting, hard and ineptly, with me. Mikey deflected this, and as I sank more and more deeply into my buzz, I noticed how he started growing in stature in my mind. What a gentleman! What a looker! What a decent guy in this bay of buffoons! A hookup started to seem inevitable.
By midnight, Mark was puking. While Andy and Mikey—gallant fellow that he was—helped Mark, I talked about Oprah books with Avery and did relationship math in my head. Yes, I was sort of seeing John, but he’d never asked nor promised fidelity. Veronica says I need to hook up with someone else, and she’s an old friend who knows what I need. Maybe most importantly, having sex with the waterskiing instructor would make the vacation seem like a wacky teen movie instead of like the tedious hell it actually was.
Andy took Mark off to bed, and Mikey came apologetically back to the kitchen. Avery immediately suggested swimming, and Mikey immediately accepted. I was in no mood to offer resistance to anything, so I followed them down to the beach and dropped my clothes next to theirs. I glanced at Mikey as he jumped in, his ass as stupidly perfect as I’d expected. Avery did a lot of giggling and splashing, but I just swam out to the floating dock and back, enjoying the cold water and the solitude. I knew I wasn’t hurting my chances by playing hard-to-get.
And then we were on the shore again, getting dressed. Mikey said goodnight to Avery in a way that, drunk though she was, she correctly interpreted as a polite send-off. She shuffled back to her cottage, and Mikey turned to me and asked me if I wanted to grab a drink back at his place.
I’d planned to go. I wanted to go. I knew I should go. I found, though, that there was a line: an invisible line between me and the northwoods hunk, a line I couldn’t cross. I was invested in John—or if not in John himself, in the idea he represented that I could have a meaningful long-term relationship, a relationship I didn’t fuck up or get bored by or blow off. On Mikey’s side of the line was another idea, an idea of myself as someone who’s fun and spontaneous and wild, an idea of myself as someone who defies my mom’s idea of myself as a nerd…just so I can become more like her.
“I gotta go to sleep,” I said. “Thanks for the beer, dude.”
seems like we havent talked for a while
how is minnesota
how is your nonbf
how is your friend
how is your mom
also im bored
life here is rubbish
i got a new job
im selling crepes in a crepe wagon
bad hours but good money
and lots of boys and girls to meet
and lots of crepes to eat
im thinking about gaining weight
think that would be hot
my tits would be bigger
id have a muffin top
i dated a girl with a muffin top once
i liked it
id grab it
then one day she was like um my muffin top is not a steering wheel
i want a steering wheel
i want cigarettes
i want an orgasm
but by surprise
like id like to be woken up by an orgasm
did i tell you i have a kid
she was adopted
i get pics from her new parents
feel like im running down a clock to be worth something by the time she comes back looking for me
like maybe that was the purpose of her coming into the world
to give me a deadline for getting shit together
almost kept her
then realized id just be keeping her to make my mum mad
not a good reason probably
i like you
i want more internet friends
and friends generally
i just want to keep typing
to see if i scare you off
feel like if youre not scared when you see all this
thats a good sign re our friendship
like you “get” me
im not that complicated
im just like everyone else
im “just a girl”
seems like youre the same
in a good way
but were both trying to be writers
to say something different
to say something worth reading
to say something people will like
people will probably like our writing
were just like them
people like reading about themselves
theyre like ya i like that
this writer “gets” me
im “just a girl” like her
shes so brave to tell our story
shes the voice of our generation
thats what i hope people think
mostly because then theyll pay me money
im sick of “paying dues”
9 notes | Permalink
He’s lying here sleeping and he looks so goddamn sweet and cozy, and what the fuck am I supposed to do?
Last night he cooked dinner and gave me flowers and I fucking hate how well that shit works, but it does, because really, what do you want in life? You want someone who will do nice things for you and treat you like you’re above average and let you fall asleep thinking, okay, I’m not totally screwing up my one chance to live a life on this earth.
I know you’re supposed to find validation within yourself and not in the way other people treat you, but what does that even mean? Like, if there was an apocalypse and everyone disappeared and it was just you and a pile of cans of beans, you’d still be happy because you’re at peace with yourself?
This pertains to writing too. There are people who just write exactly what they want to write, even if it bores 99.9999% of people to tears, and they say they’re just going wherever “their practice” leads them. They’ll write entire novels without showing anyone a word. I sometimes look at those people enviously, because you know I’m checking Tumblr every day to see how many notes my shit got, but the reality is that they’re still looking for the approval of that 0.0001% of people. If that FSG editor doesn’t dig their opus, they’re devastated.
Then I suppose there are the people who journal or whatever, actually for no one else to read, but what are they writing about? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s emo shit just like this, about how he likes me but does he like me like me and should I care about whether he likes anyone else and omg I’m a wreck what the hell is wrong with me because he this that and the other thing.
Yes, I just wrote 320 words justifying feeling warm and fuzzy because he cooked me goddamn dinner and bought me a bouquet of fucking cheapass daisies. I’m still going to keep my promise to myself to put it to him whether he’s sleeping with anyone else, if he hasn’t said anything within five days. For now, I’m going to close the computer and jump him and you know you’re jealous.
1. James Gandolfini died.
2. If a guy is stressing me out, he’s not worth it.
3. New York is crazy for cronuts right now.
4. Lots of women absolutely love their implants. She’s considering them, and so should I.
5. Her mom and dad had sex on Tuesday. She could tell because their sex towel was in the hamper.
6. David likes morning sex, because then he can drink at night. The problem with that is that Veronica doesn’t want to be gently made love to at sunrise, she wants to be fucked at midnight. She’s still sure David’s The One, though.
7. She knows she’s in the minority on this, but she’d do James Gandolfini (pre-death) before Peter Dinklage. She just can’t get into a guy who wears furs—sorry, Notorious B.I.G.
8. I should let her introduce me to the cute manager at her Starbucks. I need to hook up with someone, because then instead of feeling anxious about John, I’ll just feel guilty.
9. The new Arrested Development sucks.
10. That Internet girl is a scammer. She’s going to ask me to PayPal her some drug money. It’s the same thing as a guy coming up to you on the street with a sob story.
11. Sports mascots get laid so much, it’s not even funny.