When I do it, I remember how it was with us. Then my hands remember too, and you're with me again, just the way it was.
After work when you'd come in and turn the TV off and sit on the edge of the bed, filling the room with gasoline smell from your overalls, trying not to wake me which you always did. I'd breathe out long and say, 'Hi Jess, you tired baby?' You'd say not so bad and rub my belly, not after me really, just being sweet, and I always thought I'd die a little because you smelt like burnt leaves or woodsmoke.
We were poor as Job's turkey but we lived well— the food, a few good movies, good dope, lots of talk, lots of you and me trying on each other's skin.
What a sweet gift this is, done with my memory, my cock and hands.
Sometimes I'd wake up wondering if I should fix coffee for us before work, almost thinking you're here again, almost seeing your work jacket on the chair.
I wonder if you remember what we promised when you took the job in Laramie? Our way of staying with each other. We promised there'd always be times when the sky was perfectly lucid, that we could remember each other through that. You could remember me at my worktable or in the all-night diners, though we'd never call or write.
I just have to stop here Jess. I just have to stop.
THERE WERE film majors in my bed— they talked about film. There were poets, coxswains, guys trying to grow beards.
“Kids get really scared when their dad grows a beard,” I said.
Finally, I had an audience. I helped a pitcher understand the implications of his team’s hazing ritual. I encouraged indecisive dancer-anthropologists to double major. When a guy apologized for being sweaty, I got him a small towel. I made people feel good.
Then I took a break. Then I forgot that I was taking a break. Spring was here. Jake was here. Also Josh. One dancer-anthropologist dropped anthropology, just did dance. He danced with honors.
“Mazel tov,” I said.
The bed moved. Movers moved it. Movers asked what my dad did, why he wasn’t moving the bed.
New guys came to the bed. New guys had been in the Gulf War, had been bisexual, had taken out teeth, had taken out ads. Musical types left CDs with their names markered on— I kept a pile. I was careful not to smudge them, scratch them. (Scratch that, I wasn’t careful.)
“So many musicians in this city,” I observed, topless.
Boxer shorts were like laundry even on their bodies. Guys burrowed down for not long enough, popped up, smiled.
Did I have something? Did I have anything?
Something, anything, went in the trash, except one, which didn’t. One hadn’t gone on in the first place.
After, cell phones jingled: Be Bop, Mariachi Medley, Chicken Dance, Die Alone.
Nervous, I felt nervous. There was mariachi in the trains, or else it was just one guy playing “La Bamba.” I slow-danced into clinic waiting rooms. Receptionists told me to relax and try to enjoy the weekend, since we wouldn’t know anything till Monday. Sunday I lost it, banged my face against the bed. Be easy, girl, I thought. Be bop. Something was definitely wrong with me— I never called myself “girl.” I played CDs, but CDs by artists who had already succeeded. They had succeeded for a reason. They weren’t wasting time in my bed. One did pass through the bed, to brag. He had been divorced, had met Madonna.
He asked, “Is this what women are like now?”
Schiff, Rebecca (2016-04-12). The Bed Moved: Stories (Kindle Locations 79-90). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.