Everyone gets to climax according to the songs and soaps. Everything is deliberate; both of you are certain, willing, prepared. You believe this. You believe that you will know when It is happening. And yet here you are. Not convinced. It is finished. And you are swaying in his arms. Unsure. It has lasted long enough that the tape has passed through several extended versions of 1970s songs. And 1970s songs are already long. And yet you are not convinced.
So you let him guide you to lay down, let him remove your shirt, let him rub your back, curl into you. Exhausted with confusion, you follow your typical manner of dealing with what you describe as “full up” and fall asleep before his body is a full C, more like a J to your back.
You decide to call this It though some parts are missing—the climax, the deliberateness.
Because after all, there is blood, a part of the narrative you have learned to believe.
There is also destruction as blood is wont to expose: your favorite underwear and the old ways you used to hear the songs that sound-tracked tonight you will misremember for years. Through more boys—even Him as man—who come and return again to you with a longing you never answer even when; even though you cannot explain why. There is no question.
There is never a question and this, too, you believe appropriate to the narrative. His forcefulness is desire. His kisses, all tongue with nary a preliminary peck, are invitations not to be denied. And why would you deny them? You like him. You like his kisses. You enjoy his touch.
What should come next is a part of the narrative you have not been given from The Women. So you wing it with what you believe. They give you onomatopoeia and warnings against Temptation and anecdotes about being Fast. You’re not Fast. And until now are not easily given to Temptation. So you say No. Later you will record the truth: I said No, but I didn’t mean it. Whether he doesn’t know that, doesn’t hear you, there is no telling.
Because though you decide to ignore it or deny it, his kisses are obtrusive and the weight of him is intentional. You are fixed mid-squirm beneath him, your neck in his mouth when you realize you don’t know your body as well as you thought you did. Or perhaps your Imagination is an insufficient stand-in for the Real Thing.
It seems appropriate, the soreness you try to soak away once he leaves in the morning. Yet you give it—the entire Episode in fact—the soap opera treatment when you record it. You, a recorder of everything: time in hours and minutes, the campy design of your underwear, smells and sounds, Lamentations and Revelations, have written a narrative you warn your girls to never live.
Consent requires a question and an answer you tell your girls. And the boys too. You know onomatopoeia will not do. You give them permission to wait until they are convinced.
A week ago and decades since The Episode, you find out you are your own audience. And you join the chorus of women off key and with all the wrong lyrics. Things have fallen apart; this center will not hold.