I am lying upside down on my bed with the bottoms of my feet pressed to my headboard and Cal’s semen pooled in a puddle over my belly button. A drop of cum drips down the skin covering my bottom-most false rib. I’m not very good at break-ups.
Balmy, curry-scented air wafts through the window in my Rose Hill apartment. It is going on two in the morning and still in the mid-eighties outside, the coolest temperature for the day: August in Manhattan. Cal lies next to me, my burgundy lipstick stamped on his collarbone. We’ve been trying to call it quits all summer. We tried on the floor of his kitchen the morning after his graduation party when I was “only staying for pancakes.” We tried before he left his job at the Italian pastry shop after getting off the waitlist at law school in Chicago. We’ll try anything—anything but admit our feelings this past year have barely spanned two boroughs. Our proximity has allowed for our burning physicality. Our physicality is our entire relationship. Three states will break our fuse.
Cal turns toward me, his blonde-brown hair hot against my shoulder.
“When is your flight?” I ask.
He mumbles into my chest, “Seven hours.”
I dip my finger into his warm stickiness on my stomach, creating a spiral design like I’m playing that childhood game MASH, determining whom I’ll marry and how many babies we’ll make together. My eye lands on the wooden sign on my wall. A gift from my mother, it has these cheesy statements about an ideal partner. Cal and I almost knock it off its peg whenever we fuck. It sticks now to the humidity on the layers of rented white paint.
“What was all of this anyway?” I ask.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he replies.
Drops of sweat build up in Cal’s hairline. One falls and lands in the middle of a fresh field of zits on his left cheek that I ran my tongue over hours earlier. His chest is so red, fair skin reacting to the temperature inside and out. I touch him, pressing my fingers that have gone numb from bad circulation into his neck, turning the skin momentarily back to white like a magic trick.
“Did you ever love me?” I ask.
Cal stares and says nothing. He leans up on his elbows then climbs back on top of my body. He works to arrange his dick inside again and I do not tell him yes but I do not tell him no.
With each thrust, I read the stupid sign instead.
LISTEN TO HER SECRETS.
I think about the English fellow I went to dinner with last winter, who carried around Portnoy’s Complaint and used too much Chapstick.
REMEMBER HER FAVORITE COLOR.
I think about the burly man I kissed at my cousin’s spring wedding whose biggest shit to give regarded the aesthetic of sandwiches.
SAY SHE HAS THE KEY TO YOUR HEART.
I think about the humidity of a Midwestern fall and if Cal was really my boyfriend, if our sex was ever more than mediocre, and the importance of the clitoris. That should be on the sign, too. I wonder if we had perhaps burned a little slower if I would have been able to love him.
We finish. Well, he does.
Cal leaves forty-five minutes later, his only “good-bye” the second patch of jizz on my tummy. I let it dry so I can pick it off later before I forge out to find frozen yogurt and free air conditioning. I guess this is a break up. My fingers touch my arm, turning my own fiery skin back to moist, pallid normality. It’s not really magic. It’s really not hard at all.