After we made love, I lay face down on his white couch, head dangling bobble-style off the edge. Spent, more than satisfied, stupefied. I had never orgasmed before. He was light, my Airie, and playful. He kissed my bottom lip, we mock-fought in his prison-lit hallway, I asked him to send my Xanax through the mail. Our mutual friend had a connection and I had to have a means to drift away or I grew anxious. Life is often overwhelming. Right now, I think, a child is hiding in a concrete corner and fearing bombs. Right now, I pay for black market drugs to quiet the only voice in my head, to play at death without commitment. I could barely commit to a major, or to my closest friends. Everything is transient because it must be, for me. I collapse under solid weight. So I liked him, my frolicsome, breezy, blasé boy. No doubt Airie took me for a fool. He had chased me casually (everything he did was casual) for half a year before falling in with a girl who raged at him exactly six months later, “So what is she? Sophia 2.0?” I still remember the night after we kissed, two nights after I had kissed one of his best friends in an elevator while peaking on molly, seeing him walk towards me on one the paths bending campus, and his smile startled me in its completeness. Maybe it was right then, when the first tip of the claw curled sharp and gentle around my heart, my brain, my fear, my loins. First relationships are quite stupid. Neither of you know what to do with the cocktail of toxic neurotransmitters responsible for the moment someone finally says “I love you.”
The first time I said it I was ending our non-relationship in a hallway in Berlin. Right above me a map cheery in cherry red pen, “Put a pin in your hometown!” I kissed some men there, but nothing more because that claw had somehow become something I needed and it didn’t hesitate to punish me for any action which threatened it. I looked forward to flights which would pull me from the city that is still the love of the life, to the person who became a thing to me I cannot name but definitely half despise. And half yearn for. Three, maybe four of those flights – who can count – sent me to his arms. We dated officially for a year. He is Airie. What did I think would happen? He ended up cheating on me with Adderall and Vyvanse, a monster in my bed who failed to mention he wanted an open relationship. He was withholding, cold, frustrating, critical, crushing. The beginning was so good I could hardly believe the end. Would I change what had happened if I knew? The beginning was so good. The next semester I slept with him four times. The first time I was on five different drugs and I didn’t bother to ask what he had taken. The second and third times were the work of vultures. We picked at the remains of our love because the memory of live flesh was too strong to ignore. The fourth time I was topped off on acid, and slept with another boy before falling into Airie’s arms. No, he doesn’t know. I saw them greet each other that same night when Airie and our mutual friends and I made our way to a party. I ignored the other boy. I broke it off again over the summer, after the fifth time. I had left his apartment so sick of myself I threw up upon reaching the train station. This time I eviscerated him with my words, knowing I would never find myself back there again.
The sixth time was sentimental and cautious. He had texted me one night after I had left the apartment of a boy I was using to forget Airie. “Am I too late?” We no longer speak except to confirm travel plans. “Can I come over this weekend? What time are you getting to the stop?” The seventh time I orgasmed for the first time. Not once. Not twice. But six times. My legs gave way; I tripped over nothing the rest of the day; I had not been happier in weeks, months, days, years, lifetimes. I thought about him the rest of the day. Today I remember yesterday. I feel sick. I always feel sick. Beneath the kisses, the scent of rotted meat wafts between our exchanged breaths. It has gotten stronger with time. We have fed it with our illness for each other. I am a monster now too; our claw-hands intertwine in passion in the light of the afternoon. Each of those orgasms mock me, the memory of my convulsions beneath him, beside him, on him, with him make me shudder concurrently for opposite reasons, and I think, quite simply, what do I do now? For I know that today I hate him, but what will I know tomorrow? I know if I say nothing, he will disappear into unanswered texts and a number still not saved, and none will be the wiser. But he has my Xanax.