[Fiction] A Citadel Made of Human Bones
You stood at the base of the stairs holding out a pair of jeans, offering them to me. “You might fit into these. They’re too small for me now.” I took the denim from your callused freckled hand and looked at the digits – pink skin with dirty, long, calcium-rich fingernails. I thought about how all the parts of you: solid and dense, soft and stiff at the same time, were luminous. How every fragment of your body was stippled with fine russet hairs that I wanted to spend my lifetime counting –how that was a glorious possibility. I pressed the jeans to my cheek. They were too small for me.
Later in bed, our bodies touched side by side. With every rise and fall from your exhalations, while we listened to the quarter bounce of hail on the roof, I thought about building monuments on you with my tongue and teeth, and I purred emotions on the nape of your neck with the end of my nose. You pet my head and said, “You’re a good girl.”
I am a good girl.
Throughout the remainder of the month, I’d open my drawer and see the faded too-small-for-me-too jeans and thought about how you wore them during previous pre-me years. I’d run my fingers over the grain of the fabric, wondering what had been rooted in the fibers: your history. I wanted to take your past in my mouth, chew on it and digest it and grow from it. I yearned to burrow in the twill of your old clothes, become indistinguishable from the diagonal parallel ribs.
When you left, I started to drop pound after pound and I wondered what parts of me I was losing with the weight. Did they carry memories? Meals we ate together. Long shadowed afternoons on a couch, dying on our phones. I’d grab the extra portions of my flesh and ask the meat to stay in its place, keeping you alive through corporeality. But my body never obeyed me. So, instead, I put on the jeans and wore the recollections like a pelt. Stained with grease from some moment in your past that I’ll never know, I hitched up the loose waistline from the belt loop – did you do that, too? I wore the jeans until my own history started to accumulate in the ribbing.
Two months later, in the clamor of your home hub, I went to pick up the debris of a life together. Watched you cry. Felt nothing while your face creased. My hips cocked like Billy the Kid, dipped at one side with the jeans slouching down. I was a snake slipping out of its skin. The scales of your pants wilting off my body exposed the fresh flesh underneath inch by inch. When you pulled me to you by the belt loops I saw the friendly faces of each tiny hair that I had spent my time identifying.
We stacked our body parts one atop the other – made a citadel of human bones. You pulled me out of the jeans you gave me; an article of clothing you said you wore when you were at your “most fuckable.” Well, what am I if I’m the one that wears them now?
I told myself that it was revenge sex, but who was I getting revenge on if I end up getting hurt, too? – and by hurt, I mean that I am a good girl that feels everything intensely. But, I didn’t and don’t know a word or feeling that means, “Sad but relieved at the same time.”
I am a good girl that left your house that day with your jeans, and my rubble, and the pebbles of your voice in my head – our shared sweat on my arms like a hide, and I couldn’t wait to get home and mortar the past off my skin.
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit. She was a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, as well as a contributing writer at SSG music. In her spare time, she is a candy enthusiast and cat fan. She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, her MFA from Antioch University, and attended Goldsmiths: the University of London and Sarah Lawrence College. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website www.youlifeisnotsogreat.com. Her chapbook of flash/prose-poems, Tiny Thoughts for Tiny Feelings, was published by BA Press, 2002 in 2011 – which she concedes is confusing. She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it; she believes that the poodle is the reincarnated spirit of the television show “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.”