[Image Credit: Mira Dancy, “Don’t Bury Me”]
I remember her breath quickening, holding her breast while she touched herself; I was too selfish to make love to her because I was already off and running, ruminating. As if I was on the ride: Soarin’ over California in Disneyland, California Adventure. I take notes like I’m already remembering the embrace I’ll never feel again when she’s gone. Something will take her away; I’ll think about how far away I floated, as she stroked my body in the morning, just behind me, as she leaned into my labia, my clit (I write these words as if I always had, but they come out awkwardly).
I am an old woman wandering about checking out the garbage cans. I’m looking for food but when I huddle later, warm at night, finally rescued from the hordes of homeless, clean sheets, clean body. What I remember won’t be what you think. It will be this: we are on a bed at a navy base; she touches me lightly, all over my body. The birds are up, the firing range isn’t being fired upon. I can only hear her inhale, her exhale quicken, feel her caresses speeding up. I hold my breath. I think about typos. How I sent out a story earlier and my friend found errors. I wonder if the whole manuscript has mistakes? This then, is the luxury of taking it all for granted. A lover who wants me, hands on my body, that only want to please me. A morning that isn’t yet started. I think about typos and how much I need a cup of coffee. Isteel myself against sensation, her fingers glide across my body; I won’t get aroused. I try not to think of the pressure I’ve felt from men always horny in the morning, when she says she’s a “horn dog” or how I once got so turned on by just being taken, hard thrusts almost in my sleep, when I wake up with him inside. But other times I’m a slave to someone else’s desire that I don’t feel at all. Over and over again, I try to respond like I should. So now I’m older, I stop myself from any chance of feeling, clench my body. I let her masturbate and I hold her breast tightly, the least I can do, the only thing she asks. She’s so grateful. I’ll know someday what the loss is.
Ten years later after she’s gone, after I’m no longer wandering in the cold, alone, that’s a memory from a long time ago. I’ll remember the feel of her on my body, the morning, all the possibilities I shut myself off from. I simply lay there and now I think about how I’ll never have that warmth, the breath, the persistence. I’m free to ruminate as much as I want, to check my e-mail. I’m all alone.
I remember the sense that after I got up, as much as I wanted the coffee, the computer, the obsession to move, the drive to stay still and hold her remained. Stronger. No one said, get up and it will be the last time she’ll touch you like that. You will have forever to check your e-mail and you’ll never have to shut down desire again for some unknown reason. You have only yourself and a wisp of a memory. She’ll get up finally, get your coffee, you’ll pack, have breakfast, leave. Then next week, after a busy five days of barely seeing each other (texting, I love you lots) she’ll leave again for the reserve weekend and just before she goes, you’ll fight about some silly thing. She hates it when you or anyone drives with any alcohol. You don’t, but someone else does. They’ll ram sideways into her and though you are told later she seemed to try to straighten out based on the ridiculous forensics, really who cares? She’s dead. She wasn’t drinking but someone else was. She was wide awake on her way to reserve duty, her big paper cup of coffee filled from McDonalds, her diet coke nearby.
You get “the call.” Because now you are on all her paperwork.
At her job, she just made you her domestic partner so you could get insurance. Health, dental, medical, vision and she wants to get you life. She has that, but you aren’t yet listed as her beneficiary. None of this matters really. She was supposed to be your long-term care plan since she’s almost 20 years younger. That was a joke since her mother died so young and your people live so long. But before her 40thbirthday, no I never expected that! I don’t much think about what happens next. I just know the breath, the caress, the time, the morning, the voice, the breast, the moment she gets out of bed, the last time we lay together. I remember it all, every time the morning light comes in a certain way. I step out of my head to hear the birds. I’m in no hurry now. I have no urgent e-mail, writing, I can’t drink coffee anymore. It’s only me here alone. I have a bed, sheets, food. And too much time.
Carla Sameth is a writer living in Pasadena. Her debut memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, is forthcoming July 2019. Her work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies including: Collateral Journal, The Nervous Breakdown, Brevity Blog, Brain, Child & Brain Teen Magazine, Narratively, Longreads, Mutha Magazine, Full Grown People, Angels Flight Literary West, Tikkun, Entropy, Pasadena Weekly, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and La Bloga. Carla was selected as a fall 2016 PEN In The Community Teaching Artist and has taught creative writing to incarcerated youth through WriteGirl. She teaches at the Los Angeles Writing Project (LAWP) at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) and with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). She is a member of the Pasadena Rose Poets who present “poetry within reach and in unexpected places.” Carla has an MFA in Creative Writing (Latin America) from Queens University. Previously she “brought home the oatmeal” as a single mom, running her PR firm, iMinds PR. Website: https://carlasameth.com/ Twitter: @carlasameth Photo credit: Hilary Jones