Just Shy of Burning My Scalp
We don’t see much of each other anymore. When we do it makes me nauseous, though she tends to look right through me. She looks thinner than I remember. Earlier this morning I had two dreams about her within an hour of my alarm going off.
In the first dream she invites herself over to my house, which is in its current state of renovation. It feels normal—the type of normal you realize dreams felt in retrospect. I’m sitting on the edge of my new mattress and box spring when she walks into my room. We begin to mechanically undress each other, as if we’re following a script. There’s something erotic about it.
By the time I’m completely undressed, sitting on the bed, she is standing over me, straddling my right thigh, still wearing a black bra and panties. I can feel her warm moisture. I try to finish undressing her, but she says no. I suddenly realize I can’t speak. She grabs my wrists and places them on her breasts. She rubs her crotch on my thigh. It’s wet and hot through her panties. I can make out the shape of her pubic bone, but I still can’t speak! I have no control—her grip is too tight! I can feel the suffocating pleasure building. I can tell I’m not going to come. Now her leg is pressing my penis against the inside of my thigh. Back and forth. Back and forth. It’s hot and sticky and the skin is starting the pull. I still can’t speak. The pressure continues to build. Sweatier and sweatier until, at the moment I feel I can’t take it anymore, I’m able to pull my clammy hands from her breasts. Finally, a surge of cool air on my palms and groin as she stands, releasing me. I sprint to the bathroom to finish myself off without lubrication. I try to come in the toilet.
The second dream felt shorter. Again, I’m at home. There’s a knock at the front door and there she is with this attention-seeking pouty look on her face. It’s funny because I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen her make this face before. She steps into the foyer and before I can even close the door she jumps onto me, wrapping her legs around my hips. She feels so thin and sharp in my arms. But even so, her weight is unbearable. My knees give out and we fall. She begins to sob at this point. In between breaths she demands that I hold her on my lap. I somehow manage to cross my legs to give her a place to perch. Her arm around my neck, the crease of her elbow squeezes as she fidgets, reaching for something. She pulls out a box of Cracker Jacks. I don’t know where they came from, but they seem to provide her with a sense of relief. She hiccups as her tears subside. Then I feel another sharp wrenching of my neck—she’s tearing off the top of the Cracker Jacks and crams her hand into the box. She feels around and pulls out not one, but two prize rings. She slips the first one onto her ring finger without a problem. Now it’s my turn. She wrestles me for my hand, but I know my efforts are useless. She’s having trouble getting the second ring over my knuckle. The pain is terrible—to the bone! Again, I’m unable to utter a single word. I’m paralyzed. I realize I can’t feel my bottom half. All I feel is the ring pressing against my knuckle, slowly shaving it off.
I wake up in a cold sweat. I throw the covers off and sit up in bed. I hate the feeling of heavy wet sheets. I don’t have much time to contemplate the meaning of these dreams—I’ve got to go to work. I’ve got a business to run. Sometimes I get caught up in the implications of things, dissecting them on a molecular level. Sometimes this is helpful—I’ll be the first the admit it. But more often it’s just not worth it.
I put my glasses on and things start to come into focus. This house still needs a lot of work. I need to replace the carpets. I need to paint. I need to vacuum and scrub and sand and sweep and mop. But right now I need to shower. I need to purge myself of these dreams. Actually, I’d prefer to think of it as just another new day. I need to shower.
The bathroom is clean and white. I decided to work on it first. It seemed like the right thing to do—the bathrooms are used so frequently. It’s where I go to cleanse myself. The room begins to fill with steam and I know the shower is hot enough. I turn on the exhaust fan, take my glasses off and step in. I let the water run through my hair and down my back. I’ve always loved standing with my back to the stream. This is how I shake myself of last night’s sleep. This is how I start my day. I let the hot streams of water continue to run over me, just shy of burning my scalp.
Matthew Williams is a Baltimore-based writer and artist. He publishes the zine "It Was Only Romantic in Retrospect" and can be found on twitter @tammrwilliams.