by Isabelle Gray
This is what I tell myself every morning. I say it three times as I wash my face and apply my makeup. I click my heels three times and I say it again. I lean against the kitchen counter and eat a bagel or a bowl of cereal. My blouse, somewhat revealing is neatly folded over a chair at the table. I do not want to get it dirty. I chew carefully. I recently read in a magazine that chewing slowly and chewing several times aids in digestion. When I am done, I will wash any dishes because my mother taught me it’s lazy to leave dishes in a sink in an empty or sleeping house. When I drive to work, I will listen to music. play it loud. My ears will ring. I will tell myself I will not look at my phone. I will not check my e-mail. I will not hope to hear from you. I will not need to hear from you. I will not debase myself. I will not love you today.
At my desk there is no picture of you. I do not have that right. There is only my computer, a plant you gave me that I don’t care for in the manner it deserves and a cup full of pens and pencils and highlighters. An empty desk helps me think. When you come into work, you will stop by my office and stand in the open doorway. You will smile and I will nod politely and I will pretend I don’t suddenly feel warmer. A few minutes later, you will send me an email. I will see your name and I will feel a sharp burning in my chest. I will hate myself for having this response. I will read the filthy things you write and the sweet things you write. I will feel warmer still. Another message will follow where you are cold and indifferent and remind me about a meeting I am leading later. I will want to respond immediately but I won’t. Instead, I will go to the break room and prepare what will be the first of many cups of coffee. I take mine with cream and sugar. You still haven’t learned this. When I get back to my desk, I will hold the warm mug in my hands, enjoy the steam on my face. I will check how long it has been since I received your e-mail. I will wait another three minutes. I will tell myself I won’t talk to you today. I will ignore you and hope you notice, hope it upsets you, hope you care. When I can’t resist any longer, I will compose a breathless response, my fingers tingling as I tell you all the things I’ve wanted to say since I last saw you at work the day before. I will try to be sexy and smart but not too eager. I will think so long and hard over every word, another twenty minutes will pass. After I send this message, I will go back and re-read it several times trying to imagine how you will respond, hoping I have been sexy and smart and not too eager enough to make you still want me. I will read through every e-mail exchange we have ever had. I will do this for longer than I am willing to admit. I will not love you today.
I will try to work while I wait for you to write back, wait for you to call, wait for you to stand in my doorway again. Mid-morning, your wife will stop by. She will hold her head high and walk by my office. She will wear a smart dress and high heels. Not a single hair will be out of place. I always forget how tall she is. I hate the size of her diamond. You will close your office door and I will stare at your nameplate until the letters in your name rearrange into something like motherfucker. I will feel more jealous than I ever have because I am a jealous woman. Anytime I even hear your name out of another woman’s mouth, I feel a quiet rage. I do not like to share. I remind myself I will not love you today.
There will come a time when most of the office is out at lunch, it’s someone’s birthday or a secretary is getting married or everyone just wants to get outside and you’ll stand in my doorway, your tie loosened, your sleeves rolled up. We do this every day. Only the details and the geography change. You will give me that look and I will press my lips together and I’ll feel excitement and loathing and something else too. I will acknowledge I am weak. I am wretched. I will follow you to your office. You will close the door behind us and lock it. You will close the blinds. You will hold me possessively and bury your face in my hair, inhale deeply. You’ll say, “I love the way your hair smells,” and I will hear, “I love you.” I will pull away and say, “I will not love you today.” You will force your tongue between my lips and kiss me and hold me even tighter and I will ball my hands into tiny fists. I will pound your chest and your shoulders but I will kiss you back. You will push me onto my knees and lean against your office door. I will note the fine cut of your slacks, wool, neatly pressed. They will smell like the city. I will unfasten your belt, Italian leather, bought in London. I will take you into my mouth where you fit (are we not meant to be?) and you will close your eyes, sigh deeply. The sound of that sigh will be so arrogant it will nearly upset me but it will also turn me on. You will hold the back of my head and guide me. I will try to please you. Everything I do is to please you, to make you see me, touch me, feel something for me, need me. I will hate myself even more. When you come, you will thrust roughly. You will hold my mouth exactly where you want it, stay buried inside me, near my throat. I will claw at your shirt, bespoke, and you will laugh. I will sink into the panic of not being able to breathe. The taste of you is always bitter.
You won’t be done with me. You will walk to your desk chair, your finely cut wool slacks around your ankles. Your wife’s perfume will linger. I will wonder how you fit in her mouth. You will sit, your cock half hard, resting against your left thigh. I will try not to marvel at the prettiness of it. I will stay on the floor, kneeling, breathing hard. I will not cry but I will want to. You will say, “Crawl to me, I’m not done,” and I will think about all my diplomas hanging from my office wall and the meeting I will have in two hours where I will stand at the head of a conference table lined with men who will respect every word I say because I am smart, because I know things, because I am exceptional at what I do. I am only nothing when I am with you. I will roll onto my hands and knees in my expensive designer outfit, a charcoal pencil skirt and tight blouse. I will crawl, my knees aching strangely. I will look at the floor, the diagonal pattern of the carpet. When I reach you, I will kiss your knee, feel the bone beneath my lips. I will rest my head against your thigh and when you hold your hand to the back of my neck, I will feel lighter, I will feel like someone better than I am and then you will take that moment from me as you always do. You’ll slap your thighs and I will stand. I will pull my skirt up around my waist. I will pull my panties to the side. I will remove my blouse, my bra, lay them on your desk because you like to look at my breasts while you fuck me, you’ve made that clear.
I will hold your cock and lower myself onto you. You will hold my ass in my hands and grunt quietly. I will rest my head along the muscular curve from your neck to your shoulder and close my eyes and I will rock my hips slow as you rise to meet me over and over. You will whisper to me, say terrible things that disgust me, that hold me to this place. I will be so very wet. The office will smell like us. We will drown the stench of your wife’s perfume. It will feel like we are the whole of the world. I will breath in short little gasps, ride you harder, faster, my thighs taut and trembling. As you come, you will say, “You do love me today.” You will sink your teeth into my neck and leave a mark. I will hold you tighter.
When I return to my office, I will still feel you inside me. I will taste you and smell you. I will be sticky with your sweat and seed. I will not love you today. I will try to work. I will stare at a blinking cursor. I will make phone calls and prepare for the important meeting. From the corner of my eye I will watch my email account. I will wait and wait and when you send me another message, I will read it so fast the words blur together. You will say things that make me feel. They will imply we are more than we are. Your words will tempt me to read between the lines and I will. I will have faith in things that are not real. When I respond, I will say too much. I will detail, intimately, the many ways in which I love you today. My hands will shake as I click send. I am weak. I am wretched to need so much from someone who gives so little to so many.
Tonight, I will read in bed until my eyes are dry and heavy. The television will be on in the background. Before I fall asleep, I will open the window on the far wall and lie on top of the sheets. I like to feel cold. I will slide my hands over my breasts and my stomach and between my legs. I will stroke myself and think about how you touch me and fuck me and how you lie to me and encourage me to be this way and how I break every promise to myself. I will think about how you are necessary. After I come, I will feel empty and sad. I will confuse that with happiness. I will curl into the space where you will never sleep. I will tell myself I will not love you tomorrow.
I loved you today.
Isabelle Gray's writing appears in numerous anthologies including Dirty Girls, Bedding Down, Yes Sir and Please Ma'am. She is proud this week of... not much at all.