Samantha, who is prone to wild Fridays and slightly regretful Saturday mornings, heard a noise outside her window, something halfway between an overactive owl and an Armenian celebration. The sound forced her deeper into her bed, tucked safely beneath her satin duvet covers, one hand wrapped around her stomach as if protecting the unborn.
Samantha, at the core of things, does not believe in sexual immorality unless it’s non-consensual. In Church, their eyes dark and fierce and empty, the nuns talked to her about sin. NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE! They boomed their speeches across the narrow, underfunded classrooms, echoing like the voice of god thrown across the bloody fucking rapture. She never understood why they cared any more than they cared about horizontally sliced cucumbers, rabbits in the garden, shin splints during the triathlon. For people who did so little of it, they sure had a lot to say about sex.
But really, when it came down to it, it was less about rebellion and more about goddamn that feels good. She had blown off college classes for it, woke with the scent and thrill and touch of it still clinging to her like an electric blanket in late December. She was intimate with the feeling.
Stop falling in love with me, she had told a steady stream of men: some with hair a flaming, boisterous red, others with thin goatees or St. Louis Cardinals hats, Maseratis or Armenian ancestry. Love is love and sex is sex and woe to he who doesn’t know the rest.
Third wave feminism knocked her on her ass. In college, she was asked to join the clubs, sing the anthems, test her knowledge of Judith Butler and Betty Friedan and Margaret Atwood. I don’t get it, she told one of her lovers, Steven she believed, we used to have Abigail Adams and now we’re content with Hillary Clinton? Slick Willy’s accomplice?
Some left her Church, cutting themselves out of the thick mesh with jackrabbit knives, willing to leave behind little ligaments or phalanges or limbs if that was what it took to extricate themselves from the tangle of it all.
Santa, or some such oversized, bearded fuck, sat with kids on his lap, and she stared at him in the mall, mouth puckered in a disapproving O. So she took them off and bought them remote control helicopters and water balloons and Greek symbols and other scraps of dignity that reminded them of what is real and what is only permissibly real until the exiting of adolescence.
You drink too often, one of her lovers, Jason she believed, told her. And she did. She had regular meetings with Jim Beam in the mornings and Sailor Jerry in the late afternoon; she tipped whiskey and vodka and distilled coconut oil down her lovers’ gullets, all the while riding them like a yoga ball, like a thick dumb horse, like a vibrating go-cart.
Hey, said Jacob, late one rainy Tuesday when the AC was busted and she had eaten too much asparagus. Hey Jacob, she said, more affectionately than she thought she could ever say a name. Ya-coov, he had explained to her when they first met, everyone thinks it’s Jay-cub but it’s Ya-coov. She had nodded, smiled wistfully. Okay. Okay, I can dig it.
Your eyes are so green they make beanstalks melt.
She smiled, examined her not particularly green eyes and her shapely ass and pert boobs in the mirror. She brushed a strand of renegade hair from her lip. She was somewhere between decent and hot, she decided. Behind her, Jacob was brushing his teeth; he spat paste and mushroom stalk into the sink, laughing. He put a warm hand on her bare back and sang hymnals just to annoy her. He was rarely ever boring.
In bed, a car alarm went off briefly, and then stopped mercifully. Her head bolted up and her eyes followed shortly after. Son of a goddamn bee-itch she said. Jacob laughed, stroked her long hair and nuzzled her face. Shut up he said tenderly.
What’s the essence of sexual morality?
He looked confused, then not at all. You say what you want, I do, goes both ways. Marriage. No marriage. Gay. Straight. On your side. On my ass. Tender. Rough. While it rains. After playing pingpong. I get your yes. You get my yes.
Samantha slept soundly that night and woke to a pouring rain and her often misnamed lover, the only one she ever thought she might let stick around. The rain finally slowed and the sun cracked through the depressed sky. In the coming light, she denounced god and Hillary Clinton, ate chocolate pancakes, brushed her teeth naked and played Simon and Garfunkel, feeling the straight line of his gaze on the back of her neck.
There’s no way forward but our own, is there?
He looked thoughtful and did not respond for the longest time. He put gentle, breakable things into her arms and on her back. Eggs and trinkets and pieces of daybreak. Then he nodded slowly, knowingly, and they made love.
Richard Jennis is an introspective Minnesotan who can usually be found writing, reading, in the company of friends and family, playing chess, watching a Green Bay Packers game, or some combination thereof. He hopes to travel more for literary and non-literary purposes. Rainstorms help him sleep.