The sky was quiet for the first time that day. I caught a glimpse of it as he turned me from my back to my stomach, still inside me. I watch its reflection on his tablet screen next to the bed as he continues to heave above me. The clouds shimmered alabaster and charcoal, over-quenched by record tides brought on by consecutive supermoons and shifts in the Earth’s magnetism that had former astronaut Buzz Alderine running to the media saying things like; “It is not the sky who will fall, but we who will fall into the sky.”
He’s slamming his hips into me so hard his knees are rocking the bed frame against the wall, the novelty lights switch on and off with every clap of skin. I lay on my stomach, chin resting on my folded hands, imagining the Earth dislodged in space, ping ponging through the galaxy, the oceans sloshing around like a glass of water in a car cup holder going down a dirt road. His thrusts begin to shallow and his breath shortens, then quivers. He jolts out of me and uses my left shoulder blade as a headrest while his cock pulsates, becoming flaccid and leaking onto my bare ass.
He asks if I thought the neighbors heard and pulls off a pillow cover to wipe my back. I shrug and think back to that awful studio apartment I’d shared with a boy who was impressed I could kiss and chew gum at the same time. I could always hear the gay couple next door having sex. I’d get stoned and listen to them sometimes. Their moans and clatters, something like a tribal meditation track, always triggered some random self-reflective contemplation in my head that felt more cathartic than a visit to my therapist. He asks me on a motorcycle trip out of town as he plops down beside me.
“I’m the kinda girl that feels more safe on a horse than on a bike. Especially on wet roads.”
“You’d be safe with me.”
And I probably would be, he would know how to correct his driving in any situation, where I only knew how to overcorrect anything. Once, driving home with a friend after a bad breakup and one too many drinks, I apologized for my bad driving. My friend replied, “Do you know what your problem is though? You don’t anticipate the person in front of you stopping.”
He pushes my hair away from my face and slides it behind my right ear. I blink and remember he had asked me something. I say in my head, “I am never where I think I am. Maybe reading Vonnegut has affected my sex life.” Here he wants to take me out of town when I’m not even actually here to begin with. He’s watching me think, still waiting for a reply, I grab a tray from the bedside table and start rolling a joint. He sighs and gets up to put pants on and look for his socks. Outside birds have started to sing. Without a beat, my mind goes through a timeline of birds that have haunted me.
The bluebird in Germany that would squawk in the branch above my tire swing when I was two. The tree had been fenced in by large colored glass squares and bad caulk. My mom would bring me out there when our duplex neighbors argued and fought. The squawking barely drowned out their Romanian slurs.
The goose at the castle in Austria that clamped my hand to steal my bratwurst while my parents stood cooing over an artist sketching on a nearby bench. The artist was sketching a portrait of me that hangs in my mother’s house to this day.
The desert owls that would stay up ‘til noon to greet me and my mutt of a mare, spooking her when they’d fly out from fence posts and burrows. I would squeeze my legs tighter around her ribs and loosen my hips to joggle with her as she shot off. Fourteen years old, blasting through the desert like an accelerated particle through a hadron collider, my mind has never been so still.
There was a hummingbird that kept me awake all night bashing it’s beak into a billiard lamp when I lived in my grandparents’ barn in bum fuck Texas. I left the barn door open all night trying to let it out, sitting near the door rail with a shotgun in my hand in case any coyotes or wild pigs came by. It died before the sun came up and I buried it in the mini Stonehenge my little sister had built near our pond.
The emus my grandfather had a get-rich-fast plan for. Hundreds of them, thumping like gourds on May Day in Hawaii, ready to peck anything that sparkles – including our eyeballs. My cousins came in from Houston for my graduation; we got drunk and dared each other to run through the pens with cans of food pellets. Top ten scariest times of my life.
I thought of the cardinal that would peck my window every sunrise ‘til noon in spring, guiltlessly spraying amethyst stool along the windowsill. I went back after years in college for spring break and he was still there. I slept in our RV the whole week and kept finding scorpions in all my clothing.
There were also the sparrows that nested between the bedroom walls of that awful studio apartment I’d shared with a boy who was impressed I could be naked and intelligent at the same time. They laid eggs while I lie pregnant with open scissors beneath my pillow. Their chicks pecked through the drywall while I watch, crying, unmoving and silent so my bedmate wouldn’t wake, praying the omen was for my relationship and not my child.
And here in this house I lazily watch swallows eat over-sized bumblebees and dragonflies while my lungs collected soot. I have nothing but time and absolutely none of it. They build nests out of my dog’s sheddings and zip ties from the construction site next door. I smile thinking of the simplicity of their ingenuity. He thinks I’m smiling at him.
“I guess let me know. A month without you seems like forever.” He picks up his jacket and helmet, opening the front door. I nod and light a joint as he shuts the door. Gauss’ Law of Emotions says there’s withdraw and there’s without, one is for the addict, the other the agoraphobic. I’m just trying to survive tornado season without affection.