Coasting – Part One
Milly: “I gotta take the bus home.”
Milly: “So I need two-fifty.”
Von: “Where’s your bus pass?”
Milly: “I don’t have it.”
Von: “I know, but where is it?”
Milly: “I had it in my wallet last night and I checked today and I just- I don’t know, it’s gone.”
Von: “Well how’d you get here?”
Milly: “I told you, Trina dropped me off on her way to work.”
Von: “I thought you said you hadn’t told her about this.”
Milly: “Yeah, I- I mean no, I haven’t. Look. Can I please just get the two-fifty?”
Von: “Alright, alright. Give me a minute, my wallet’s in the kitchen.”
Milly: “It comes in four minutes.”
Von: “Well, you better put some clothes on then.”
Realizing she had lost in that conversation, Milly slipped her heels into her boots and forced them through with a thump to the sole. She tied the laces down hard so she could feel the blood moving on the tops of her feet. She thought she had gotten all of her frustrations out last night. And this morning. That’s all this was. They used each other to escape, but it came to be that everything outside of his bedroom was exactly that. She equated her every day life to that of those World War II tapes her dad used to watch, the men traversing the trenches in safety while the bullets and grenades raged above. As soon as she stepped into this bedroom, this apartment even, she felt like she was living. Seven-hundred square feet of life.
They talked, but never in a trite or exhaustive manner. Their conversation, usually after sex, mostly consisted of their hopes, fears, and constructive criticisms of the world. Neither felt obligated to the other, it was a shared understanding between the two trench dwellers. That’s why she kept coming over, and she knew that was why he kept an open door. As soon as she got the feeling that she could do without, which they agreed either of them could decide at any time and would be respected by the other, she came running back. Why. He disgusted her sometimes. Not his body, she liked his body. His body.. But in some of his mannerisms, like how he looked when he smiled afterwards. It was like he was drunk, though on the nights they would spend together he never had more than one drink. He liked to be sober for what they experienced in each other, and she liked that. But it still didn’t change the way she perceived that look of his. “Don’t look at me like that,” she would say every time. He would shift his gaze to the corner of the room, but she knew he would be wearing that same, stupid smile. It made her think that he kept a sense of pride about this. Pathetic. There was no pride in this because they came to each other admitting they had none. They just had needs.
As she sat there, mostly dressed, sifting through the missed correspondence on her phone over the last eighteen hours, she realized that this was taking a toll on her. She knew that she couldn’t feel guilty because she had chosen this over the banal alternative, but something was getting lost on her and the fact that she couldn’t pinpoint what it was frightened her. If there was one thing that made her shudder, it was not being in control. Surely, this whole endeavor was a resigning to temptation, but she rationalized it as something she had control of. The power was as much between her ears as it was between her legs, but refusing sex was out of the question. She knew herself. But she needed to be in control. It was supposed to be a game, but something was forcing her outside the lines. She had to get back there..
She continued to rifle through her text messages, keeping her story consistent among the questioners. Out of boredom, she grabbed Von’s phone and navigated through the menu. He had all of his information locked up in apps with stupid little pass codes barring entry. “Bank”, “Work”, “Usernames”, “Passwords”. So timorous, but at times so self-assured. She thought it a bit baffling, keeping his information on a device in which he had rank trust. Then again, she knew that Von wasn’t nearly as comfortable with anyone as he was with her inside these walls, so maybe she was being a bit too critical. Even so, she found a way to think of him as pathetic before she threw his phone down on the bed.
Von: “Here, I don’t have any change.”
She looked up at him, holding three dollar bills in his extended hand. But that’s not what she noticed first. His flaccid penis was somehow stretching the fabric of his briefs on his inner left thigh. A banana of muscle and virility. In a rush, her hands got clammy. She swallowed and exhaled, reawakened from somewhere. Not fair. She felt her hand lift from her lap and begin to reach upward slowly. Upward, slowly.. The room shrunk. She felt her heart beating around her pelvis. Flowery numbness. Just then, the nerves in her other hand snapped her into alertness, she blinked away the spell and looked down to see her phone vibrating in her other hand.
Call from Trina
She snatched the money from him, grabbed her coat on the way out and answered her phone, still breathing heavily.
Milly: “Hey. Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll be home in an hour.”
She slammed the door, descaled the stairs in familiar rhythm, walked past the bus station and headed straight into a coffee shop.
next: Coasting – Part Two
all chapter: Coasting
more by SANDY DODGE
photograph by Chelsea Francis