March 5, 2013 by The Citron Review
You ask me why I don’t stop shaving for a few days so that scab on my shin heal. I don’t tell you that I remember when we got together I heard you tell your friend that your ex didn’t shave often enough. That is disgusted you.
So I tell you it will heal, in time. The scab will get smaller and smaller until there’s nothing left to cut off anymore. But that’s not true. I sit in the bathtub and look at my leg, threequarters of the way down my shin, right on top, and see that little pink circle with its red center. Who knows what caused it in the first place, and I cannot remember now how long it’s been there.
No, I do the math. It’s been there for almost two months. It’s been nine weeks since the night you came over and we played that lame board game then had sex on the kitchen counter.
I’m looking at the spot. It doesn’t bleed anymore when I shave at least. Then I notice another little spot, higher up, about three inches below my knee but on the right side of my left leg. Another little pink circle, another wound that won’t heal.
For a second I consider not shaving. Then I reach for the razor, “for sensitive skin,” with four blades. Legs must be smooth.
I shave both legs, toes up to the fold right under my ass. Then I shave my arms, my fingers, my armpits, everything.
In the mirror afterwards I notice all the tiny little knicks. I stand, my hair still wet and water pooling on the floor where there used to be a bathmat, and count them. There are seventeen little dried beads of blood, not including the two scabbed spots on my left leg that don’t bleed anymore. I need to use a new razor. I think about switching them out now, but then decide I don’t care. That I’m now tired.
But before I lay down, I lotion everything that I’ve shaved, rubbing the dried blood off and perfuming small, microscopic wounds with something advertising assures me smells like passion fruit.
I lie down, and know I’ll wake up cold in a few hours because I never did towel dry my hair. But I don’t care. I will wake in a few hours and check my phone for one of the late night texts from when you’ve been drinking. You’ll tell me that you would have loved it if I had been there, that you know I don’t want to hear the sentiment, but that you think I’m awesome, that you’re happy in togetherness with me.
And I will read them. I will rouse myself for a few minutes from a benedryl educed selfcoma. I will respond, and tell you that I feel the same way, though I will say it differently. Not as beautifully. I will wish that you’ll tell me that you love me, and will tell myself I’m not really disappointed when you don’t. I will plan to let that word slip from my own lips the next time you sleep beside me.
You will call me at 2am when the bar closes, and you will tell me that you miss me, ask when you can see me again. I will tell you that you are welcome anytime; I will not tell you that I have been aching to hear that all week. I will not say how many nights I’ve stayed awake too late, not doing my work, not cleaning the house, laying next to my phone with a weighted ball of anxiety in my guts, just hoping that you would call.
No, instead, next time you arrive at 2:47am and we have sex twice, and you fall asleep with the light still on, in the morning you will get up before me, pull your body away from mine, slick with sweat from where we have been touching, and dress in the dark.
You will lean over me and squeeze my hand and kiss me lightly on the lips, and I will wake and mumble something that sounds like “I love you.” It will be intentional, and I will pretend to fall back asleep, and wait to see what you will say.
And you may say something. You may not. Regardless, I know that on Friday night, I will go back to sleep alone. Saturday, I will shave again in case I see you.
Gwendolyn is a master’s candidate in creative non-fiction at the University of North Texas where she is the non-fiction editor of North Texas Review and works with the American Literary Review as blog manager. Her speculative fiction has been published by Lissette’s Tales of the Imagination, Jersey Devil Press, Niteblade, Haunted Waters Press, Scareship, The Copperfield Review, and the anthologies Blood and Roses and Horrific History. She also publishes the literary genre publication Deimos eZine.