At first, everything stopped, and I mean everything–even gravity it seemed, just for a moment. It had to have been only a short moment, though, for had it been any longer than that, my ceasing heart would have killed me. It didn’t feel like a short moment. I gasped, and with it came the jolt that ran down my thighs and calves to rebound off my toes and shoot up my spine, tightening every muscle it passed through.
This wasn’t my first orgasm, not by a long shot; what made it special was that it was the latest in a long line with her.
She hadn’t quite finished this time, but there was nothing I could do about that. I gulped in some air, rolled onto my back, and bathed in my own humidity.
“Wow!” she panted.
“Yeah,” I replied. When I regained control over my body, I sat up and disposed of the condom.
As I did this, she reached for the wad of sheets in the corner near her head, shook them out, and covered herself up to her collarbone. Her modesty always made me smile, especially since I’d just seen and tasted her naked. Hell, I was responsible for making her that way in the first place.
She sighed. “I love how worked up you get when I get out of class.”
“I don’t have any control over that.” I really didn’t. She went to a catholic school and wore the uniform; though not for long whenever I had a say in it.
I know: it’s weird that I was fucking a schoolgirl when I was in my mid-twenties. Sure she was nineteen, but it was still pretty weird.
“I wish I didn’t have to go,” I whispered.
“Please, Fox, let’s not do this. You’re not leaving for a few weeks.”
“I know, but New York’s so far away.”
“I’ll be there with you before you even know it.”
Her sleek black hair had become understandably entangled, and so I ran my fingers through it. “Where’s the first place you want to go when you get there?”
“Besides your bed?” She giggled at me when I rolled my eyes. “I always assumed you were too cool for touristy crap.”
“I am cool,” I replied, “but I do love the touristy crap. I just never have an excuse to go unless I have a visitor.”
She screwed up her face in mock concentration. “Statue of Liberty?”
“Fuck that,” I said. “You get a better view of it from the Staten Island Ferry. How about the Empire State Building?”
“Could I see my house from there?”
“Cariño,” I told her, “you can see the entire world from there.”
“I only need to see you.”
I laughed. “That’s the cheesiest thing you have ever said.”
She shoved me onto the bed. “I’ll show you cheesy.”
“Are you going to sing show tunes?”
“Stop it …”
“Deliver an emotional monologue about the triumph of the human spirit?”
“Give me a pizza with extra mozzarella and ricotta?”
“You are so dead!”
“So you can read blank-verse poetry at my eulogy?”
She couldn’t bring herself to stop grinning. “I don’t even know why I even talk to you.”
“Because I’m witty.”
She kissed me tenderly. “And because I love you.”
Tossing aside the sheet, she crawled backward and then began running her tongue up my thigh.
“Is this what you mean by cheesy?”
I moaned. “Because I can do cheesy.”
That was months ago.
Decades before that, I looked at my bedroom, tucked into the back of a trailer that perched along the unpaved, gravel road that skirted the edge of the ragged hills that orbited my hometown in a remote corner of New Mexico, and I decided that it was time to go. I was seven.
Ten years ago, I graduated high school and ran toward the world in front of me while fleeing the bridges burning behind me.
Six months ago, for reasons I’m still not sure I fully understand, I went back.
Four years ago, I began my career as a journalist, spending my days and nights with no overtime, conning celebrities into liking me and telling me how their next movie, album, or TV season was going to be so much better than the last and how they didn’t care about what others thought and how they were really just shy.
Six months and one day ago, I looked into the mirror and saw, like I did everyday, a vision of myself ten years in the future, dressed in the same clothes, working the same job, and tearing myself to pieces.
Six months ago, I met her.
Yesterday, I could look in the mirror and see an adult.
Three months from now, I would going to walk away from all of this. I was going to leave New York, and with it, the drugs, the alcohol, the sex, the rock, and the roll. I didn’t care where I went–it was time to go.
Twenty years ago, El Dorado was anywhere but home.
Twenty years later, El Dorado was back home, in her arms.
Today, the letter in my hand told me that she wouldn’t be coming.
It took me three tries to get through it.
I tried to begin this letter with some small talk. Maybe I’d tell you about Daddy. Maybe talk about school. But I can’t do that to you. By now, you already know what I’m going to say, because that’s just how you are.
I can’t tell you how much I love you. It makes me crazy that I can’t. I can’t even tell you how much you changed me.
When my mother left, I thought I was being punished. Because I had too much fun, goofed off, cared more about anything other than school and being a good daughter. And even though I knew she wasn’t coming back, I worked so hard to study and to take care of Daddy… I didn’t think I could have fun and be responsible at the same time. You showed me I was wrong.
It’s funny, but I don’t think you know that. You think I’m going to rescue you from the life you lead. You think I can make you a grownup. I can’t do that, Fox. I’m just a kid. Sure, I’m older than everyone else at school, but I’m still a kid. I’ll be starting college next year.
You’re living in your own apartment, paying your bills. I’m going to be living in a dorm, getting care packages from Daddy.
I’m still learning who I am, and I can’t support you when you’re trying to run away from who you are. We’re so different, and for one split second, we were the people we needed each other to be.
That doesn’t make sense.
I’m sorry to do this like this. If I saw you or heard your voice, I’d chicken out. But I’m not sorry I love you. I hope that one day you’ll feel the same.
I’ll always be your cariño.
Yesterday she was my cariño.
Today she is my ex-girlfriend.
Tomorrow she’ll just be Carissa.
I had no friends, no one to hold onto, and now, thanks to my landlady and my penis of a roommate, I had no place to live.
I called in sick to work, but I don’t remember how. I didn’t know where my phone was. My fingers were useless. It felt as though every word that left my mouth would melt into anguished sobs.
For an unknown period of time, I couldn’t bring myself to eat. I couldn’t even bring myself to walk to the kitchen and find a bottle of liquor. The only reason I got off the couch was because some movers came and took it away.
When I finally stood again, I took in the apartment without my roommate. He had taken with him the large television I never watched, the dining room table I never used, the wall art I never looked at, the canned food I never ate, and the wireless Internet antenna I never lived without. All that remained for me was a wok and some saucepans, a spice rack, a flattened mattress on the floor, a bureau moments away from collapsing, two unpacked boxes of books, and a refrigerator full of leftovers.
She left me.
Now what was I supposed to do?