I couldn’t remember what this moment reminded me of. This scene— or maybe it was a feeling— seemed so familiar to me as I stole a glance at him while gulping the last of my drink. I wasn’t really a whiskey girl; it was the drink choice of the last love of my life. I drank it as his companion before he decided to abandon me. The scent of whiskey and cigarettes lingering in the crevices of my tiny apartment was all that I had left of him.
Since him, I’ve dated a lot of cigarette smokers because I secretly love the smell of it on their skin… how that last inhale lingers, seeping into their hair and I can still taste it on their tongues. Gio smells of the outdoors and menthol cigarettes. It’s a fitting smell for a man with a small expressive face, wild dreaded hair and brown eyes I can see right through. Unfortunately, that is where his transparency ends. I know him but I really don’t know anything about him at all. It feels like an illusion, and I know this because I invented this trick back when I was strong enough to play the game. You make them laugh, you share a story from your past and they feel like you’re a kindred spirit and they continue coming back for more. In this moment, the whiskey made me a little less aware of being played for a fool, but I like to think I am still onto him—his lies and his empty intentions.
Rambling thoughts made me forget about my now empty glass. I tilted it up to my mouth once more, causing my hideous blue plastic bracelet to slide further down my forearm, instantly triggering my memory of what this scene— sitting here on the porch with Gio—felt like. The bracelet was given to me a few weeks ago by a metro transit worker who thrust it into my hands as I hustled by during my morning rush hour. I hastily grabbed it from her and placed it on my wrist without bothering to read the words engraved on its surface. It wasn’t until later that evening I even noticed there was a number to a hotline for reporting sexual harassment and assault on local public transportation inscribed on its surface. For whatever reason, I hadn’t taken it off since.
Only a few weeks later, I boarded my metro train home. A small man sat next to me, opening his newspaper by spreading it wide across his lap. I absent-mindedly listened to the music in headphones, completely zoned out, before I felt a light sensation running up and down my thigh. I looked over to see what it was. I saw the pinky finger of the man next to me ever so lightly gliding back and forth against the skin of my right thigh. It seemed he had spread his newspaper so wide to appear as if he were only touching me by mere accident—but there was no mistaking it as I watched that small finger making contact with the flesh of my bare leg. Before my brain could fully register a reaction to the situation, the man quickly folded his paper, nodded in my direction and bounced out of the metro doors as they opened at the next station. I felt so many emotions in that moment; couldn’t quite narrow them down.
The violation had been subtle. It crept into my bones and it affected my sleep that night. Technically, the situation could have been a mistake or a misunderstanding or accident but deep down I knew. It was a brief violation—hardly anything to alert the police about, but enough to shake me to my core. Tonight, on this porch with Gio, I was feeling that same sensation seeping into my marrow. His presence here created the same atmosphere of violation and intrusion.
He started off wonderfully– as they often do. I gave him my cell phone number and he took his time getting in contact with me. Once we fell into a groove we made each other laugh and text each other every day—both high on the possibility that we’d found something substantial within the other. On our first date we sat on this very balcony as he stared at me, his eyebrows raised, and told me that I wasn’t aware of just how beautiful I was. At the time I was moved by his honesty but looking back, I don’t know if it was his sincerity or my loneliness that held me to him.
I wanted to wait. I wanted us to take our time getting to know one another. I needed more of him playing in my hair, more sincere looks and more connection before I moving forward sexually with him. However, our situation escalated too quickly and I opened to him, giving him everything of my body weeks and weeks too soon. Since then, the insanity of uncertainty had been eating me from the inside— every unanswered text, every missed phone call felt like attempted murder on my heart. My sensitivities had reached their peak and I felt my power slowly slipping away. I was no longer the girl more beautiful than she knew or worth more than she projected. I was yesterday’s trash being used and recycled until something fresh and new came along to take him away from me.
The first night I let him stay with me he wrapped his arms around me and held on for so long that I genuinely feared that he wasn’t going to let go. “Talk to me,” he pleaded, upon waking up in the middle of the night and finding my eyes wide open. He guided my head to his chest; drifting back to sleep as he waited to hear what was on my mind. I never spoke a word. The sentiments formed in my head but anxiety trapped them in my throat before I could manage to let them escape my mouth. Please don’t use me, was the last thought cloud in my subconscious before eventual slumber. My internal request had been made in vain.
In this moment, he placed his glass of whiskey on the balcony’s ledge and ran his fingers through his wild hair. “Let’s go inside,” he murmured, softly. My eyes were on his glass, so precariously perched on the edge of its own destruction. I felt a kinship with it.
I knew that this was my time to tell him no. This thing between us was a violation. He did not want me. The text messages I looked forward to had faded into nothing and whenever I worked up the nerve to call him I never reached his voice on the other end of the phone. He didn’t know me, but he wanted to spread his newspaper beside me and touch me in the places I wouldn’t notice. He wanted to invade my body, filling it with empty promises and simple pleasures. In those moments of lust I could pretend that I was loved, being caressed by his hands and listening to sounds of pleasure and words of affection… but in the end I would be left with a quick nod and departure only to hear from him and see him on his terms and schedule. I wanted so much more than this and I wondered when I would have the guts to end this vicious cycle; fight these urges for physical affection and try to take the time to build something real.
I slowly stood, hoping he didn’t take notice of how inebriated I was. I had consumed a lot of whiskey that night. And it’s funny, because I’m not even a whiskey girl. I’m just a regular girl; looking for affection in all the wrong places and trusting just enough to get my heart broken each time. I inhaled deeply, savoring the smell of cigarette smoke lingering in the air. The scent reminded me of the last time I thought I was truly loved by someone. And it’s only a thought because I will probably never really know…
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