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.
1 note | Permalink
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.
4 notes | Permalink
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
2 notes | Permalink
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.
Do you think someone’s breaking up with you every time you open a letter from a girlfriend? I guess since we’re not dating, that’s not an issue in this case—although does anyone ever write anyone a letter any more for any reason other than to break up or say sweet nothings? Whatever this letter is, it’s the answer to that—or it would be, if it existed on paper, if it were actually a letter that I was going to deliver.
First matter of business: what the fucking fuck is up with that obnoxious energy-saving bulb? It buzzes like an electric gnat from hell. Sorry, don’t need to cover that ground here. That’s something I’m not afraid to say to you in person.
Why am I afraid to say anything to you? What do I have to lose? Being crazy and waking up paranoid and still half-drunk at 3:00 AM? A summer fling? Maybe I’m just hanging on to this because this has been such a weird, late-starting summer that I feel like I’m trying to cram a whole summer into half a summer, and losing a summer fling would mean that I’d be left with that ground to cover. God knows I don’t need another of these.
How can I feel this intensely about something that’s been going on for less than a month? Maybe I’m just so worked up because you won’t commit, because the are-we-or-aren’t-we phase of the relationship has been stretched to its breaking point.
Listen to me (or, more precisely, read me on this blog that I’m supposed to be using for publication-worthy writing instead of this histrionic shit): “its breaking point.” People stay in are-we-or-aren’t-we relationships for weeks, months, years, and nothing “breaks.” Is that my nightmare?
Clearly I like you. Clearly you’re hot, to the point that I wonder:
I don’t think I have either an artificially inflated or an unhealthily deflated sense of self-worth. I just don’t like feeling this vulnerable. You’re smart, funny, hot, and allotted on my own personal plan be a disposable space-filler: Summer Before Grad School Guy. You’ve already exceeded all expectations for someone in that role. So why am I going fucking crazy?
Here’s the answer it took me 433 words to get to : I just want to know whether you’re fucking anyone else, or whether you would do so while we’re hanging out this summer. I’ll just put that question to you directly, tomorrow. Or, at least, this week. Within a week. Within seven days from this moment. From now. From when I publish this. Hold me to that, anonymous Internet commenters!
Oh my God, I’m asking anonymous Internet commenters for help. I’ve truly come to a low place.
what are you doing
Re-watching “Girls” like the stereotype I am.
Lena Dunham’s show?
is it good
Yeah, it’s really good. I’m too into it.
why too into it
Because everyone else is into it. I feel like I should have more distinctive tastes.
you like my poems though
True. You seem to have a big audience on Tumblr, though.
just a medium audience
More than I have!
its quality not quantity
you should post more pics
that’s how you get followers
Yeah, I don’t think so.
I’m not as good looking as you, and I’m not ready to get naked.
that doesnt matter really
when you post naked pics people just start yelling at you for not being more naked
just like post pics of your face
Is that why you don’t use your real name?
i dont care about that
theyre just tits
mostly i dont want people to know about my poems
irl people just judge
like you’re supposed to be sylvia plath
people didnt even like her that much
you cant win
on the internet im just some crazy girl
theres no point of comparison to my life
my poems just exist
That makes sense.
But aren’t you proud of them?
i show some people i trust
mostly i just like internet people to read them
5 notes | Permalink