Bodies of fear

So he lights a cigarette. His lips curl around it, the firm grip of two yellowish fingers, and then he looks at me with a look that only a youngster can have. He’s innocent, I know, but his smile says otherwise.

Do you like me, he asks.

I am afraid of my own body, I tell him. I was taught to be afraid of my own body. My mother tied my ankles to the bed during the night, so that my hips won’t rub onto each other. I slept in sessions. Every fifteen minutes I woke up, sweating, my sides aching with that numb pain solitude brings to old people. In the morning she came. I could hear her footsteps, and then the door would open, and she came, and she untied me, and I would squirm between the sheets smelling of urine and sweat, and I would drag my knees to my chest like friends hugging each other after a long time, and I would talk to them while the pain subsided from my back. And I hoped. I cried over my knees and hoped that wings would burst out of my back, and I would be transformed into this sexless archangel. A renegade of the body, neither male, nor female, split but in one piece, so that I could see my mother’s face then, reddening with shame and my father throwing me out of the house saying I’m not his son anymore. I’d say I’d always wished to be a son but wasn’t able to, because this body is filled with shame. And you taught me that. So I hug my knees. I can’t hug those people I want to because this body won’t leave me alone. You can’t stop it mother. Tie my ankles to the bed. There’s a slippery slope to pleasure.

I do like you, I say.

Don’t tie my ankles to your bed. I want to feel good while I’m with you.

But this body you see, it won’t let me. Count my ribs, do what you want, just don’t think while doing it. A child’s game, one, two, three, going down, four, five, then stop, I’m afraid you won’t like me; you won’t like the rest of me. I’m already pushing against you as I try to count your ribs, one by one, with my mouth. One, two, three, I’m trying not to think, four, five, my ankles are taped to the bed, and my back aches, and wings burst out of your body and you fly.

Mother! Father! I need to tell you something.

I say between my teeth, sweating.

I slept with an angel last night.

And he was beautiful, and I was beautiful too.

There are no such things as monsters, they say, now go back to bed, they don’t hide under your bed; they don’t hide in the closet, go back to bed. How did he break loose? Go and tape him back to the bed. He fucked an angel all right, and the angel fucked him.

So I tape myself to the bed every night on my own, without my mother’s help, so that the angel might return.


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