The body matters more than the skin, which is why I told you to take yours off and you listened. I’d never seen a body without its skin before. You folded the skin, a clean retail fold, and put it in the top drawer next to your socks. I am reiterating all of the facts here so we can know them and spend the rest of our lives trying to forget that we know what we know.
Now everything that you touch leaves a mark that looks like it should be collected and put in a bio-contaminated waste bag. I am a mop on autopilot wiping your red fingerprints off of the remote control every time I want to change the channel. The teakettle, the shower handle, the toilet flusher, your red thumbprints cover half the words in the books I’m trying to read. I can’t put your cock in my mouth anymore without feeling like a cannibal so you’re always crying. Without skin it feels soft even when it’s hard. Your tears make the mess messier, harder to get rid of. I keep wiping your insides off of everything and you just cry and cry.
Every night I say something along the lines of “Here bubbala, how is dinner? It’s farm-to-table.” You just sit there getting blood on everything and say I’m too cold for food to be relevant. Between us are the shiitake, the millet, the spring onions. There’s the balsamic glaze, there’s the silver ladle. I don’t eat. I don’t even know what I want to eat other than everything. Everything is fercockt. Sure, it’s half my fault for telling you to do it but you should have known better than to listen to me in the first place. I wish you would just put the skin back on already. I peeked in the drawer yesterday and it’s already starting to crack.
I get on a plane to see another guy I used to love okay because god you’re tsuris walking. The airline slogan reads If You Wouldn’t Take It on the Ground Don’t Take It in the Air. I think about what that means to me. I think about what it would mean to you.
I go because where he is there’s sun and when you had skin you used to say vitamin D is never a bad idea in the way that a person only says it when they haven’t seen the PBS special. Anyone who’s seen the special knows that supplements aren’t what they say they are. More often than not, the supplement is something else. The guy I loved okay is living in a new apartment on the coast of Arrival City. I got extra legroom, and it wasn’t for free. What does it mean to buy room? Behind me, fat knees press against my seat, knobby pressure eliminates the space in my lungs where my heart’s supposed to be. An accordion is compressed and the air comes out in a high-pitched whistle that only a special kind of microbial shrimp has the ability to hear. This is sound but people call this silence.
It is my first night in his new apartment but the furniture hasn’t changed. The white vinyl lounge chair with figured maple frame is one that’s been sat in by me. The bed frame is familiar. The black-eyed Susan mosaic glass table lamp on top of the Danish teak coffee table is familiar. The coasters have been updated. His furniture has always been mint but cold, surfaces untouched by fingerprints, like the handlers were good with their gloves. The night is good. For dinner we have sex, his cock is covered in skin and I don’t swallow because Jewish girls hate the ocean. The cleanup can wait ‘til morning when there will be breakfast—fresh fruit, coffee, kefir.
I wake up in the familiar bedframe to the sound of a young girl screaming like someone is holding something sharp up against her and this is her final chance to see if she can make a sound large enough to escape that horrible someone from doing that horrible something. When I hear her scream, from within clean sheets, I miss your blood. I almost miss having a body to clean up after. Later, after he wakes, I’ll find out it’s not a girl—it’s an abused parrot that the upstairs neighbors adopted. All it knows how to do is make a loud bird noise so they keep it shut in a cupboard. It never flies. This attack is one that happens every morning, when the sun comes up, so he’s gotten used to it, sleeps through. As for the bird, it is always there, in that one piece of furniture. From her perch on a shelf the bird can only see out through the slit between the cupboard doors, a perspective designed for a teacup. I’ll find out about the parrot before he gets up to pee and then later, I’ll learn of the cupboard, but until the peeing begins the bird is a young girl because to me she has no face, and what she is trying to say is something I know.