Kristin Garth

You Identify As Haunted 

He is a professional, an urban planner, nestled among amateurs (college students) in a Spanish Revival chopped up into apartments.  Lives on top.  

The depressed blonde bisexual artist you fuck (tutors you in college algebra) lives directly below— painter who came north to Pensacola  “for these trees” leaves to fall into a Miami grave. Calls you once before he does just to say “I’m driving there to fuck you.  Be ready.”  

Shave your pussy.  Touch to thoughts of being hurt then held again by someone so blond, herringbone tweed perfect who sees art in all your freckled southern gothic baby fat flaws.  

No idea when he’ll arrive except it’s too long a drive to be today — ten-hours.  Tomorrow? This week, certainly.  There’s desperation behind his bravado of clipped commands. 

Months pass.  The silver Karmaan Gia convertible never appears.  That tingle of power you savored, his palpable long distance need,  on the phone recedes —  perhaps he didn’t regret your abandonment at all.  The hole he left inside you is dug deeper by his second ghost.  

The time in which he’s twice disappeared, you fill with computer sadists, online doms, big city professionals.  Some come much farther than Miami to Pensacola to see you cry.  Pay to convey you to painful parties.  Decorate flesh with their anger and desire.  It is a comfort wearing crudely crafted marks in Pensacola bars returned from hotel suite sex shows and brownstone liaisons — returned to your small southern stars with metropolitan tear drop scars.  

Whiskey sours, jukebox drum licks, guitars and a voice that demands you rock the boys wafts over welts beneath a floorlength sundress — spaghetti straps and shooting stars.  Lock eyes with the planner neighbor, paying out at the bar.  All you see is the boy who used to live beneath this man, the one studying you, grinding his teeth.  Beckons you with a subtle nod.  Though you should retreat, legs carry you closer. 

Troy, his name you remember, and that unusual occupation, though you’ve met maybe three times, at most, in the artist’s apartment.  Just a few small overlaps of pleasantries before you climbed onto the lap of your host, and this one puts down an empty Corona to climbed a flight of stairs home.

Booze on his breath, his fingers trace the first cleft of you, exposed and quivering, a dimpled chin.  Tells you tonight it is time to go home with him.  

Takes you by the hand as your heart starts to race.  You cannot say no to going back to almost exactly the perfect place.  Climb stairs that trace memories so many nights to such blissful states.  Pass a door you won’t go in anymore on your way to his neighbor’s bed where he lays you on your back, lifts a dress to inspect the rest achingly slow — every stray mark in any furrow, crawling over your timorous form.   Turns you over on your skittish stomach and traces your goosebumped back towards the red raised evidence of your assignation with the most recent handsome maniac.  

Hear him gasp and finger each welt then trace some with his tongue.  He’ll ask for a detailed recitation of how it was done before he pulls you by your long hair up onto your knees.  Slams into you while you whimper please. 

After he’s silent as ever but holds you close, a new body you’ll cling to after it has hurt you almost as much as the one who made those stripes on your ass.  In the darkness and quiet, you finally work up the nerve to ask, “Do you ever hear from him — Matthew? He was supposed to come see me months ago, never showed.”  

Turns you over  with a different expression, human and hurt.  His hand covering half of his face as he manages.  “You don’t know?”

Shake your head, tears dripping as he strokes your sweaty, disheveled hair. 

“He killed himself.”

Words weigh down the sex soaked air.  Press you low into his crumpled sheets, a shadow that sobs while he continues to speak about how special he was, how talented, sweet.  Feel rabid heartbeats over you.  Turn to look him in the eye — two lovers, you realize, abandoned  by the very same guy, who died instead of returning to either of you.  

Because you ask him, “Did he tell you he was coming back too?

This nod makes you hold him tighter, this pain you suddenly share.  Both bisexuals, haunted.  You will feel the other one there, the ghost — almost see him in the haze when Troy chokes you with his belt pulled against your throat tight.  Sometimes you each tell your respective ghost stories when he turns out the lights.  

Sometimes they are goofy, other times grave. 

“I should have known by the jokes he made on the way to class —- dumb riffs he repeated  about driving right over the tree-covered cliffs.  He laughed when I’d call him dramatic, blamed  his artistic temperament, big city sardonic wit.” A ghost is composed of such details you can never forget.  

He didn’t drive off a cliff in Pensacola, hung from a rope in Miami alone.  Waited for him, ready, and might never have known until you were summoned by a lecherous older neighbor to a wrought iron bed above the place you once frolicked with one who is dead.  

The professional will hurt you in physical ways no amateur could.  He will make you strip for his friends.  Push you harder than he should. Yet you’ll feel a tenderness even tied to his bed that is less about this living man than a boy that is dead.  Artistic young fingers you feel on your pulsing flesh while the professional uses a body the other one left.  

You both identify as haunted.  Feel him with you inside of this bed.  It is why you submit to this living sadist to hold on to something tender and dead. 

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