One late night, while bartending, a young woman walked in and asked for a “Corona”. The band played loudly, but I could not tell you what they sounded like. She drank her “Corona” by first sucking on a lime, then taking a sip, like a tequila shot; instead of squeezing the lime into the bottle as per usual. She was reading. I watched her drink and read and listen to the band and she knew I was watching her. I walked to her, leaned over the bar, spoke, and we both understood something. Some energy loomed. I told her I could see her for real and truly and asked if I could interrupt her to talk and buy her a drink and she said “yes”. The night was slow and I asked Sam If she was good to close on her own that night, she said “yes”. I remember Sam smiling at me as though she knew that this women and I understood something and felt the looming energy. Sitting on the stool next to her we talked about the book she was reading, and the band, and I told her I knew something about her by how she had her “Corona”. She smiled and giggled at that, but I couldn’t hear the sound the giggles made. We drank a round and before the second round she offered me a cigarette. I don’t smoke cigarettes but when I drink sometimes I do. I can’t remember what we talked about outside but I told her I thought she was beautiful. She smiled and slowly I walked toward her and leaned in to kiss her but she leaned slightly back, still smiling. If it was cold or hot outside I couldn’t tell. Back inside we had our second round, maybe a third, and decided to head to another bar. Sam was giving me the same smile. Her name was Ennis. She wore a low cut, short sleeve, green top and what looked like a blanket wrapped around her hips down to her feet, purple, with a folded bandana wrapping her short red hair, hanging down.
We walked past two traffic lights down Mass Ave to the next pub. Sitting at the bar the bartender approached, asked us for our I.D.’s, gave us a hard look, then got us two “Coronas”. We talked some more about the books she was reading for her Harvard extension classes and about the music I was writing. At some point probably we got another round. In the mist of the conversation, I saw her left arm lying palm flat on the bar near me and I saw red. I sank my teeth into her. Slowly biting harder while stare up into her eyes. She smiled and did not budge. After letting go, for fear of piercing her skin, she did the same and sank her teeth into my arm. Though she was less afraid and I again leaned in to kiss her but this time more slowly; she released her grip, and I stopped leaning in just inches away from her lips, and waited for her to come the rest of the way. The bartender and a man sitting at the opposite end of the bar were having a quiet conversation and saw what was happening. The lights were very low, as low as the last bar, but a quiet radio was playing here and there were no other people. After kissing, and another round probably, I suggested we get food at a Mexican spot further down the street that I often went to, eat, and head back to my place. She agreed under the condition that we not have sex that night. I agreed and we started walking. Some people I knew were eating there too. I bought a chimichanga and offered to get her something but she said she was not hungry. We sat at a table next to the people I knew and made small talk and I convinced her to try some rice and beans. As we got up to leave, I said “Peace yo, we’re out I’m very tired”, and Angelica said “yeah; very horny”, Ennis said “Amen sister”.
My phone was dead at this point so we stood on the sidewalk and waited for a taxi to drive by. One soon drove past; we hailed it down, got in, and went further down the street. Crossing the river you could see the city and instead of following Mass Ave all the way down to Dot Ave, through the city, the cab driver took a left onto Storrow Drive and onto 93 South, around the city. I noticed him driving like this as Ennis was tucked around my left arm tight, and we were staring out the window at the water and the lights and the dark sky and at each other and kissing, and I didn’t worry about telling him which way to go. Arriving in Codman Sq. we got out, paid the man, and we walked into the house through the back door. There was a deep quiet on the streets.
Inside the house all six of my roommates were sleeping and it was very quiet. We went straight into my room and made ourselves comfortable. I turned on the dim lamp in the room and closed the door. On the bed we talked about something though I cannot remember what and at some point started kissing again. She was laid back, her hands around my head, and I falling to her. Laying there and kissing for a few moments I started moving my left hand, which was on her belly, further down to her hips, and tried to untie the blanket around her hips. She said “no” and I brought my hand back to her belly but soon tried again. She again said “no” but this time I didn’t stop and then we were wrestling as I tried to kiss her and untie her blanket at the same time. She hit me and bit my lip and I was bleeding a little so I sat up and smacked her and she said “O, this is what you like”. I tried falling back to her but before I could she started kicking high and hit me in the lip again with the sole of her foot. I sat up holding my mouth with my right hand and now I was bleeding a lot. My teeth had gone through my bottom lip. She sat up in front of me and I looked at my hand full of blood and I could taste the blood in my mouth and then stared into her eyes and felt a deep rage about to explode but it quickly dissolved and I could see that the rage in her eyes from a moment ago was gone too. I knew I had gone to far and was silent. She looked at my face and saw my bubbled lower lip and asked if I was okay in a soft and concerned tone and moved toward me. On the bed, on our knees, in front of each other now, she put her hands on my face to see the bruise more closely, then held my right hand that still had blood on it palm up and licked it. I put my left hand on her face and we started kissing as we said sorry to each other again and again and again. We got under the covers, holding each other, and went to sleep.
When we woke up the Sun was high in the sky but not yet setting and we rolled around in bed kissing and Ennis started going down on me and we fucked. My lip was still bubbled but had stopped bleeding. In the light and nude I could see and smell her more clearly. She smelled of her self and grew hair on all parts of her body that hair could grow it. We watched a movie; can’t remember which one, had sex again, this time more slowly, and I got hungry. I asked if she wanted anything to eat and she said “no”. She lit a cigarette and was texting her mother. I threw on clothes, walked around the corner to a Dominican spot I often go to and came back with rice and beans and grilled chicken and a salad and pastelillos. I half expected her to be gone when I got back. She was in bed nude under the sheets. I sat on the bed and started eating. I told her she should also and slid a plate over. She hesitated for a moment, took a bite, and then dug in. She told me, or I asked, not sure, about her mother’s text and said she was wondering where she had been all night. If she told her where she was I don’t know. She lived at home with her parents and younger sister. I told her I had a younger brother who lived in Lowell with his girlfriend and two cats, and my parents in Dominican Republic with their two dogs but we had lived in Brockton for many years. She asked me how old I was and I avoided the question. I asked her how old she was and she avoided the question also. Then I asked where her parents were from and how she got her name. She said her mother was born in America and her father in Scotland and was named by her father. He worked in real estate, her mother, she didn’t say or, I can’t remember what she worked at; they lived in Back Bay. Now, with our full stomachs, we held each other and fell asleep again.
When we woke up the sun was now really setting and low and she said she should go and I replied that she should stay. We rolled around in bed kissing and I started going down on her. Down there I noticed she had a small bump, but continued anyway. We switched positions and she put a finger in my ass. I threw her on her chest and went into her. Slow then fast then slow then fast till we had come. After lying in bed a while longer she said she had to go and started put on her clothes. In bed, still, watching her get dressed I tired to convince her to stay with no luck. She was still texting her mother who told her she should come home. I asked her for her number and she was hesitant and I walked her to the door, which was lock, and asked her for her number again and asked her to stay. She wrote it down with a pen and paper I handed her, slowly, handed it back, and tried to open the door. It would not unlock. I told her it was a sign and that she should stay and she smiled still trying to unlock the door. I picked her up and carried her up the stairs back into the bedroom. She smiled and said fine, okay.
In bed we started talking about what we wanted to do with our lives, and she said she didn’t really know what she wanted to do but was taking some classes to try and find out. I told her I knew exactly what I wanted to do: play music. I told her I thought she was Irish when I first saw her, and she said her father would be offended by that comment, so I asked her if he would be offended if she showed up at their door with me and she said absolutely and so would her mother; I told her I was offended by them. It was now night and we told each stories about our lives, and I told her about how I chipped my tooth stagediving, and about the tattoo of my grandmothers name on my chest, and she told me about the time she had sex with a 35 years old man, and about how she was excited to go to New York City with her younger sister in a week. Then she again asked me how old I was and I said 24. I asked her how old she was and said 19. We held each other again, started watching some movie, and drank water. She was laying back with her face straight up, I took a sip of water, aligned my mouth to her mouth, loosened my lips a bit, and let the water flow out, like sand in an hour glass, into her mouth. She smiled and laughed. At some point during the movie we started kissing and rolling again and had sex again, this time slowly the whole way through, like making love, but not. I came inside her and we fell asleep.
At some point late night we heard a women scream outside my window. She picked up her head as she picked up the sound and I held her tighter trying to comfort her and we fell back asleep. The next morning, up earlier then the day before, we had sex one last time. We were both soar and tender. She went and took a shower, came back in the room and got ready to leave. I did not want her to go. Ready to go and texting her mother, I walked her to the door, and I can’t remember if we kissed or hugged goodbye, maybe neither, maybe both, and she walked to the T. I offered to walk her there but she said “the directions there were enough; that she could find her way there on her own”.
Sitting on my bed I wondered if we’d ever meet again. I wondered if I’d hurt her and if so to what degree, If we would ever really know each other, if we could ever, after this, love each other, if I had corrupted any chance of that forever, if I would ever in this life be deserving of her love. I thought about her trip with her sister and hoped they would be okay, I hoped that if I had hurt her that she could forgive me and allow me to right my wrongs if at all possible, I wondered if I could ever talk to my mother about everything that had just happened, I wondered what my grandmother would say about it, I wondered if she would tell her mother what happened and if I would get a knock on the door with a police officer asking me questions, I hoped that would not happen. I wondered if she would tell her sister what happened. I wondered if I could tell my brother. I wondered could I be dreaming. I thought about every women I had ever slept with and if I had hurt them like this or worse. I feel in my heart that I have. I wondered what would have happened if Ennis never kicked me in the face. I thought about how to make this story a funny one to tell, I wondered how many other men had done what I had just done, I wondered what kind of man I was, what kind of man I was becoming. I wondered if my father would be ashamed to call me his son. I wondered after this if I would ever deserve any women’s love. Why didn’t I stop when she said no the first time? Why didn’t I stop when she said no the second time? Why was it not enough to hold and kiss her? Why had I hit her when it was I who deserved to be hit? Where was my mind? Where had I learned to do something like that? Had I learned it or had it always been inside of me?Am I a danger to the people around me? Could I trust myself to never do this again? Did she feel that I hurt her or was she used to this? Had this happened to her before? Did she think this was normal? Can I make any sense of this on my own, in my head? Had other women made sense of this alone in their heads? is this story worth telling or should I bury it? We would all be buried someday right? What if this happened to my daughter…
A few days went by and I had not tried to call or text her. One afternoon arriving at work James, a coworker, told me that a beautiful red head had come in earlier and asked for me and left me a sealed envelope with a letter she had written. The letter was long, and I have since lost it and can’t remember exactly what was written word for word but vaguely said:
Thank you for the time we had and thank you for making love to me.
If I hurt you I am sorry. As you probably guessed the number I gave you
is fake, but I am sure we will meet again sometime.
Part of this story originally appeared in Arts & Letters #4 edited by Ben Mazer and Raquel Balboni