Monday, December 6, 2010

from the journal.

So twenty minutes ago my husband and I were talking. He was, oh-so-graciously warming my feet with his hands, and I was reading to him something I'd jotted down in a recently-taught workshop. Nice work if you can get it, I know. I read it to him because I thought I'd put it here. It's an incomplete telling of a malevolent stepmother who gives her teenage stepson a blow job in pursuit of a superpower that he doesn't know he has. It can only be transmitted genitally, evidently.

"Sexy," he says, when I've finished reading. "I told you about this website, clean$heet$dotcom, yeah?"

"No, what is that?"

"Something like this would be perfect here."

Turns out it's a website for "literary erotica"=mediocre storytelling meets mediocre sex.

I sigh and grumble: turns out sex is still too hard and vulnerable-making for me to write well, at least in the ten minutes I gave myself in the last workshop.

So, instead.

Mom never let her do her homework on the table, so she was splayed out in the living room floor. Her math book was open, a sheet of paper under her hand, between her fingers a dull nub of a pencil.

Will's footfalls thudded against the floorboards, and she felt the vibration against her ribcage, even through the braided rag furg on the floor. He clomped through the living room to the kitchen where her mother was sweating over several pots on the stove. All was silent, then she heard, "Get the hell off me, you see me tryin' to fix dinner."

Will came out of the kitchen, his hands on his hips. Bea could see his body, tall, angry, in the dining room. The light above the dining room table was on: Will's eyes were in darkness but Bea watched his lips move as he said, "Damnit Annette, all a man wants when he get through workin' is a cold beer and a little sugar. is that to much to ask, Annette? Is you to good to give me that?" He said her name, Annette, in two syllables, hitting the first just as hard as the second. Ann-nette. It sounded so hard and heavy in Bea's ear, and she winced, rubbing her ear against her shoulder, to rub the sound of his voice out of her head. She couldn't feel it, but the corners of her mouth were turned down in a frown, two commas creasing her cheeks;she couldn't see it, but in the kitchen, hovering over the stove, the same frown dug into her mother's face.

From far away she heard her mother's voice continuing the argument. "Yeah, it ain't to much to ask if I ask for help with the cleaning or the washing up after dinner."

"Get onea them kids to do it. Ain't that what you had all them kids for? Besides, I worked too hard all day just to come home and clean up after your black ass."

"If my ass so black, what you doin reachin for it all the time?"

He laughed a laugh like a dirty car engine. "'Cause black is how I like 'em."

Bea hated it when her parents were like this. The way they act, she could never tell if they were fighting or flirting. They go from friendly to mean so fast. And they were always shouting.

Annette's head popped out of the kitchen and peered into the shadow of the living room. "Bea! Get in here and set this table."

She scrambled up from the rug, all knees and elbows, and went through the dining room into the kitchen. She hoisted a stack of plates out of an overhead cabinet, feeling her father's eyes measure and examine her body. He was standing in the doorway, and when she passed between them with the plates, he pinched her ass, right underneath where it was fullest. God, she thought, he's always doing that. I wish he'd just keep his hands to himself.

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