From the evening of our first fuck until the afternoon that I buried what was meant to be our child within the mineral-rich, Midwestern soil, I collected his essence within a wide band of porous leather that I kept strapped around my left wrist. As his most primal aspects had, over time, seeped into the fibers, the once stiff cuff softened and molded to the curve of my arm like a second skin. Suffice it to say, I carried him and each one of our shared experiences with me everywhere my journey led.
I wasted nothing of our early encounters. The sweat that ran along his freshly-shaven skull and across his temple, that sweltering Wednesday evening which imprinted me in the last gasp of an extended Indian summer, tripped along his jaw joint and released, one bulbous drop after another. His vitriolic excretions splashed onto my face, blinding me for the briefest moment with their salty sting.
A couple of months later, the viscosity of his cum, which I had learned so well, held fast to my inner folds throughout the night and into the next morning before it poured out of me as I brewed by-the-cup coffee and watched as he slept in. The sensation of warm white globules of potentiality running along my inner thigh brought me such joy that crisp October morning within the curtained dimness of a second-floor suite in a four-star Detroit hotel.
As our lust grew into what we believed to be love, I collected the tears that fell from his eyes after he returned from a long evening of talking with the one he had deemed his soulmate but was no longer. He sobbed into my shoulder for hours that night. After all, they had been together so long, had shared so much.
When he was hit with a particularly nasty mid-winter virus, I nursed him back to health with warmed-over Tom Kha and Massamun Curry. As he shivered in his sleep, once his fever broke, I disposed of the soggy tissues that had fallen to the floor beside the bed and scrubbed his vomit from the porcelain. When I laid beside him and drew the sweat-dampened sheets over me, I swear my skin absorbed every drop. Sure enough, the bedding was bone-dry by morning.
The afternoon I miscarried, the bloody remnants of our love expelled from my body, soaking through the sheets and deep into the mattress. Yet, I alone was left to dispose of the pieces of tissue which refused to dissolve, at least until they were returned to the earth to be consumed by the regenerative work of worms and maggots. I collected those shards of us in the cupped palm of my hand and walked in bare feet out of the city and along a winding country road, which led to the old oak I had once photographed in some unknown-to-me farmer’s field.
On my return trek, the early spring sun had the gall to part the clouds, warming my shoulders while prompting me to shade my eyes. In spite of the moderate temperature and recent rains, the air lay arid against my skin. I felt a subtle crackling yet paid no mind. And, so, I kept on. As I set one foot in front of the other, I sensed my flesh growing ever more brittle by the moment. It was more than a flaking; rather, it was a chipping away, a merciless shedding of the sensuous woman I thought I’d become. A gentle breeze whispered within the spaces between the newly-budded leaves. Approaching a curve in the road, I, at last, heard the toll—the soft clink of a half-inch steel grommet striking the pavement—and turned to witness the lushest parts of myself scatter in the wind.
And, suddenly realized, what a fool I’d been.