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Fiction

Wearing a boyfriend’s shirt is romantic, but what about a one-night-stand’s? It can’t be as beautiful. Maybe commemorative or celebratory. Congrats on the shag! But I think this guy’s different. It’s my first one-nighter, so I don’t have much experience in this department of sexual relations. However, I never knew a sleepover could be part of the deal. Too busy worrying about how I looked and what he thought about me, I only slept for three hours total last night. While he snuggled me in his sleep, I wanted to get out but never let go. I’m really good at letting things happen to me. Would my friends describe me as a risk taker? First of all, no. Second of all, what friends?

We’ve been spooning for about an hour now. And the closest I’ve gotten to making a move is grinding my butt against his crotch. Not dramatically, but as if I’m readjusting my sleeping position. Sometime during my development, I must have learned that seeking attention shouldn’t be obvious. Instead, I wait for my host to wake up. He makes the moves, and I follow.

Just then, I hear a moan. And not a sexy one from last night (woohoo!). His groggy morning vocal exercises give me the much anticipated sign that I can soon speak and start my day. “Good morning.” He yawns. Pulling from my high school theatre background, I perform the part of a sleepy but cute woman. Rubbing my eye and turning around, I whisper, “Good morning.” His sleepy face is cute. Damnit.

“How did you sleep?”

“Good,” I lie and offend the rules of grammar. “How about you?”

“Good.” I have no way of knowing if he lied too, but I believe him. Perhaps, he’s an even better actor than me. While “sleeping,” I knew what to do: wait until he wakes up. But now that he’s conscious and alert, what do I do? I didn’t think this far ahead. Paralyzed by thought (What does he want to do? Does he want to have sex again? Do I want to have sex again? Am I hungry? Am I pregnant? I’m not pregnant. I’m not ready to be a mother. Imagine all the decisions I’d have to make, etc.), I choose to continue waiting. I waited all night, and I can wait some more.

“You want some breakfast?” He asks.

“Sure,” I answer. He jumps out of bed, pretty spry for someone who just woke up. “I can help.”

“No need. My treat.” He leaves me in the bedroom, alone with my feelings. He must think I’m gross. I’m ugly. Woman, why do you always feel the need to help? Is that polite or characteristic of a pushover? It’s not about me. He probably just wants food. Maybe he has a cherished breakfast routine, and I’m here fucking up his schedule. Or he thinks I’m gross. I might have something on my face. Quick, bolt to the bathroom but be cool about it. What if he finds me inspecting my face in the mirror? I must pretend I’m peeing. With the door closed and fan on, I examine every feature from my pores to my dark circles while counting thirty seconds. My timer goes off, and I flush the toilet. Despite not peeing, I wash my hands for two reasons. First, I don’t know which germs live on his toilet handle. Second, I must commit to the entire experience in order to fool him. Is it bad to begin the morning after a one night stand with dishonesty? Does this relationship mean as much as the others? Am I ever really allowed to lie?

So that he doesn’t think I’m pooping, I bust out of the bathroom and meet him in the kitchen. Should I be concerned at how attractive I find him frying eggs and toasting bagels? Is this an undiscovered kink? Are these low standards? Do I care too much? I wonder if he likes back hugs as much as I do. Woman, now is not the time to experiment. We don’t need to create safety hazards for a chance at affection. Instead, we need breakfast and sustenance. But he’s cute. And we had sex. A back hug isn’t asking for much, right?

He spreads cream cheese on the bagels and places the eggs on top.

“Did you just put cream cheese on an egg sandwich?” Look at me prioritizing food before intimacy. Afterall, I am my mother’s daughter.

“Trust me. It’s good.”

I follow him to the table, and we eat as acquaintances. Yes, his penis was in my vagina eight hours ago, but we don’t know each other’s biggest fears, favorite foods, or middle names.

“What’s your middle name?” I ask.

“Patrick.”

“Cool.”

“And yours?”

I’m a white woman born in 1996. “Marie.”

He nods. It's easy to assume he didn’t respond with words because he was eating, but that’s not complicated enough for me. Of course, he doesn’t like me. That’s the only reasonable explanation. I nibble on my sandwich, too bashful to flaunt my typically masculine bites and too stubborn to admit the cream cheese is a pleasant surprise. Is he thinking about the silence like I am? This encroaching force squeezes my vocal chords and my confidence. I’m a fish out of water, gasping for a smart thing to say. Which makes sense, given that I’m sitting at a kitchen table that’s new to me and wearing a shirt that isn’t mine. Who am I, and does this situation look good on me? Should I keep sporting or ditch this trend? Am I a horrible human being for distilling a whole person and night of sexual activity into a “trend?” I must be terrible. How else can one explain the continued silence?

“Do you like the cream cheese?” He asks, shining a ray of light into my cave of hopelessness.

“It’s good,” replies the woman who is so desperate to fill the space but only comes up with two words. I swear I’m good at talking. I’m just bad at believing in myself.

“Did you have a nice night?”

“Yeah,” I answer too quickly. I seem clingy now. I shouldn’t look needy. I’m a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need human connections to feel fulfilled. All I need is food, water, and shelter. Who cares about love and intimacy? 

“Me too,” he adds, and I melt. But I can’t show it. Quick, eat more! While getting my mouth around a quarter of a bagel, I nod, just like he did minutes ago. But my nod is different. With many more chews, twenty years go by. He finishes and puts his dishes away, leaving me to rush the last of my breakfast. I hate to keep people waiting.

“Hey,” he starts, while I’m close to choking. “I have some friends coming over later. I gotta clean up and get some stuff done, so…”

My following gulp serves two purposes: to swallow my food and to get my nerves down. My naivety tells me he’s truthful, but it’s called “naivety” for a reason.

“Okay,” I say, bludgeoning my chance to speak up for myself. As I rush around his apartment to find my various garments, I scold myself for wanting to spend the morning cuddling with him. As I change out of his shirt and back into mine, I feel shame stitched into the fabric. It weighs more than it did before. While rustling up a good-enough ponytail, I avoid my own eye contact in the mirror. Otherwise, I’d cry. I can’t do that here, in front of him. Instead, I won’t exhale until I get into my car and drive off. I grab my purse, shuffle on my shoes, and stand by his door. We share a kiss, and he squeezes my ass. In another context, I would’ve enjoy that. But now, I feel more sexualized than sexual. So I leave and count the seconds until he asks me to come over again.

May 11, 2022 22:10

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2 comments

Tom Moser
00:14 May 19, 2022

This is a well-crafted story from the point of view of the one who has regret. I like the ending lines that give life and insight: "I avoid my own eye contact in the mirror" says volumes about how this woman sees herself without seeing. And "feeling shame stitched into the fabric" is a great way to give shape and dimension to what the character is experiencing. Well done.

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Harlow Jones
19:45 Jun 07, 2022

Hi, Tom! Thank you for the kind words. I'd glad you liked the ending.

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