Confession: I broke up with the rape victim after four months of insufficient foreplay.
I broke up with rape victim after four months of insufficient foreplay and felt nothing but ignominy for the dildos and their forever hardness. I broke up with morning baby voice that lasted through dinnertime prayer, the twice weekly therapy sessions, our two dry, untouched parts. Broke up with clenched fists and that suspended redness, its haunting. I broke up with our eight-month love: skinned and salted, by Cape Cod wind like a sheet flowered and puffed on the line.
I left the guiltless defense unsaid, the murmurs to rot and rust against my lips, and wiped everything that reeked of ripped labia. I shredded the listof victim’s needs: Advil, Vaseline,
Xanax, but preserved the best lostparts: the good love, our two heaving torsos. I left the cream curdling on the top shelf, the razor warning the soapdish, the bloodied boxers, the photos of us both smiling: skinny, six months in & full of future porchswings, scented lube and forevers.
I couldn’t wait for victim to photosynthesize into survivor, instead inherited the trauma of the boy I loved as a girl when at nineteen he transformed from girl to boy to rape victim.
The month was April, the year was last, and the table was decked in matzoth and kosher wine, while his face was smashed against the mirror, hands gripping at the lip of the counter, while the man decked in J-crew and Sperry’s wrapped the boys hands around the veiny tip of his cock This is what the meat of man feels like in the Amherst double stall boys’ room while I sprinted at the rugby pitch, flirted with the ex I’d always love more than him, and stuck my hands between the layers of spandex, warmth I’d say, if anyone ask.
Two hours later when we meet at the corner of Elm he’s glowing in the streetlamp fluorescents, he’s never looked so religious, standing there in Urban Outfitter jeans and an old button down of my father’s. Creatures of habit, we dine at Thai Garden sit side to side at the booth, splitting three types of curries while we deconstruct our friends masculinity and he shivers at each insufficiency.
Getting ready for bed he makes me turn my eyes as he inhales hard and removes the binders one at a time. I yank my sports bra over my head and grab my favorite of his old t-shirts, “Exeter”, it brags, while he climb into bed. I climb in after him, touch his cheek with my thumb, press our ears together to hear the ocean, and try to braid my legs with his: challah or crisscross applesauce, the tightness of our intertwined bodies a comfort we found two weeks in. But his legs are synched, locked together and unmoving. I know then that we must go.
Unknowing if we are in danger, if the man followed him home, I grab fistfuls of clothes and shove them in the laundry basket while he tell me all the ways the man knew I’m not a real boy. I wrap his face in the baby blanket (shrooms we had called him, not after the drug, but after the cartoon mushroom design that embroidered the soft fabric), and hustle him to the car. Driving through the neighborhoods of Northampton, on the move and unfindable, I call campus police for a two-hour spectacle of idiocy. I wasn’t looking for a woman in a suit and a radio, I was looking for someone to see the help sign in my eyes, to hold him, to do all the things I was trying to do, but better. Instead, they told me the emergency room was the next step, to have him spread his legs for a second time that night, to let a q-tip scrape at the walls of his hatred, testing for DNA, or herpes.
I take him home, my mom having taken affection to the boy and his forever smarts. We spend the next two days on the couch, snuggled and clean. The minute we get home I unwind the duct tape from his give-away hips, take the underwear off one pair at a time while he sobs. I sit him in the tub and swoosh water between his unwilling legs, thick clumps with red splotches, like bloodied loogies, float in the tub, and I’ve never been more hateful of man. I take the washcloth to his bloodied spots, let the soap bubble and spill back into the water. I drug him with Zquil a whole half dose extra.
We spend the next two days on the couch silent and snuggled close, him speaking only in baby voice, dragging me with him each time he needed to pee, yelping like a wounded dog each time his ass released and re-opened the wound. My mom finally calls his, we meet her at the hospital, her eyes knowing and accusatory. Her eyes angry and unhelpful. Her eyes venomous and hateful, too conservative to understand the consequences of it. Before she came, on the phone with my mom, she uttered, privileged, I can’t do this. She didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have a choice.
We started dating because we were both marathon runners, slim but hearty-calved, and dedicated, we though our body a microcosm for how we lived the rest of our lives, proud for the things we pushed our bodies to do, the places we made our legs run. By then we were five months in and gender confused and consuming each other like electrolytes. By then he dropped his old name like a slutty best friend, took on he/him pronouns and only wanted to fuck with cocks plastic, hard, and foul. He wanted it missionary and heteronormative. I wanted power-play and breasts and bodies playing gymnast. He wanted his cock in my hole. I wanted more imaginative. He wanted to hear me call it cock. To hear it, penis. Penis, he’d ask me to say. Penis, I’d say again and again. Penis. You have a penis, I’d say it convincing. But I just wanted to enjoy it, to close my eyes and let my body get its fill.
By then we had already stopped fucking but had both found jobs in Oregon: our summer of adventure. Him, working with an artist, relearning your hands. Me, working with a college-drop out at a small poetry press in Portland’s ghetto, I’d work for only half-heartedly, favoring instead the women’s athletic clothing store I’d picked up a part time job at for some extra money, two blocks from the gym, ten blocks from the bus stop, and a five mile run from our room.
My love was fading, and fading fast, but I wasn’t delusional, he wasn’t getting better, and I didn’t know how to help.
I fell in love with a city that summer and fell out of love with him.
I hadn’t tried to put a timeline on his healing, but I hadn’t expected it to take that long. Five Two weeks later looked the same as two months later looked the same as four months later. So at the five month anniversary mark, I split: found my tongue in someone else’s mouth. Came back to our room unapologetic and spiteful, and in an all-night tantrum he booked a flight back to Cape Cod.
I don’t think it was until then that his mom knew what it had been like all Summer. His hysterics blaming me on the phone to his mother, who, blaming me, brought him home. Who blaming me for negligence, kept him home that following Fall semester. Who, full of blame for me, let him travel to Portland for the Summer, didn’t ask about the therapist he didn’t have, didn’t come visit, didn’t take my pleas for help seriously. When three weeks into the summer of our dreams I told my mom of his condition, she told his mom. His mom’s response was confident, Gabby is full of shit.
He leaves and I’m suddenly spiteful and full of entitlement. Our summer in Portland: still the summer of a lifetime, but even so, had been spent reading Missoula by John Krakauer, self-help books for family members of assault, and grooming the body of a boy I thought I’d be best friends with forever.
Is it guilt that has me writing this? Anger? Something less language?
I admit: My tongue had been dancing towards the other mouth all summer, the mouth’s owner, Hannah, had had her eye on me since my first week in town. Hannah who had eighteen years on me, a fat inch, and ten pounds of muscles. It was her who I had been noticed my first day at the LA Fitness that became part of my daily routine that Summer, when she, a trainer, sauntered down the stairs as I skidded past to the locker-room. That Summer was hot and lavender with the always maybe storm coming in. It was a summer of always maybe, of the just missed mark, of just missing the him I fell in love with: woman, plump-breasted, and tender.
Hannah and I spent weeks eying each other at the gym, me pumping an extra ten pounds at her gaze, her talking a little louder, looking a little less interested in whatever she was doing; she was the type to play it cool every time. But my third week at that gym, tanned from my morning runs to work and toned from a four-month work-out routine, I’m pinned to the bathroom counter. Decorating the woman in front of me: an embellished belt of silver and stapler-sized at the crux of her hips: a Nike swoosh, an invitation to just do it. She pined me against the bathroom sink and I get wet with missing that level of intimacy. He and I had no so much as kissed since that Passover night.
But Hannah, she pins me there, asks me what part of my body I’m going to train today. She tells me she wants to work me hard, to make me feel it.
She offers me free training every day after, a half hour of one-on-one undivided attention for the next few weeks, helped me grow my ass hard and cuppable, spotting me on the bench, and challenging me competitions, which she only sometimes won. She commented proud and hungry at how nervous she seemed to somehow make me, how polite I was when she’d hand me a weight to curl, or when she’d alter the weights on the bar I was benching or squatting. She was good like that: competent, never in the way, helpful, and knew her way around the gym as well as she knew her way around the sweet spots of my body.
She never lost her cool until her neck was at my ravenous mouth, her cool lost in the moans of her sadism, her superiority a buzz faded at the sound of our bodies rubbing back and forth against the leather seats, the air conditioner fuzzing on and off and the Fifty Shades of Grey Album playing in the background. Yea, until grinding into her I left her neck bruised and mine, and she, touching me through my pants, while I, in power kept her always almost inside me, but yet, almost barrier-ed somehow.
There was expertise in the way she locked the doors, turned off the engine, lowered my seat and climbed on top of me before I understood her intentions. She was on top of me then, her knee rubbing me a little rough and just right. Her hair shaved close to her scalp, her arms and legs hairless and toned, her eye liner too thick for the lightness of her eyes; and while now I can admit that she resembles something from Green Day, or a less popular 90’s punk band, something changed in me that night. While we only kissed twice, maybe three times, something changed in me that night.
A new understanding of self, a need to leave the boy I fell in love with as a girl, a lover who could challenge me, while also validating me. A lover who would sin with me, to share a secret: our sameness.
Did the break up make me transphobic? Everyone wants to know why you don’t want to be with men. Men, men, men. It doesn’t occur to anyone to ask you why it is you love women (Losing Sue, Heather ). I stayed with him as long as I did because when the boy you loved as a girl transitions to boy, there is still the love. I left him because the longer I stayed with him, the less I knew myself sexually, the more I missed public recognition of my lesbian self and the more I detested our sex which imitated heterosex more closely than it imitated my fantasies.
Is it guilt that has me writing this? Or am I just speaking my desire?