Friday, November 17, 2006

"Lucky Numbers and Marlboros"

Callie was a good girl, the kind who had never done anything even remotely wild in her entire life. Until she met Paul, who fucked her in every way imaginable before he left her bed in the middle of the night, turning her into a one-night stand. Her track record of being the good girl was shattered, and she was determined that Paul would not be the last man who fucked her.

My "Lucky Numbers and Marlboros," originally published on Ruthie's Club, has been selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6. Here's an excerpt from the story:

When she woke up, he was gone.

At first she didn’t know what to do. She felt displaced, as if the room she woke up in was not the same room she had fallen asleep in, as if the bed were not her own. She walked through the house and looked for him but she knew what she would find.

He had taken it all. Oh, not her things. Not those. He had taken his clothes and his cigarettes. He had left the newspaper open to the classifieds, his toothbrush in the sink and his soap in the shower. She thought he had taken the vodka too, but that afternoon she found it, sitting there on the high shelf in the pantry. How civilized of him.

“I will not fall apart,” she said to the bottle.

The bottle said not a word. She settled on the kitchen chair and her body ached. Paul had been rough with her. She had bruises on her shoulder and on her neck, and even on her leg. Her belly ached where he had been. She had never ached like that or been marked like that for anyone else.

He wasn’t her first but it felt like he was. She had done things. He had taught her things she didn’t know she was capable of doing. She never dreamed she would have been able to deep-throat a man that size but she did. She gagged on his cock and that excited him. He liked it when he drove all the way into her pussy and she cried out because he was so hard to take.

“Arrogant fuck with an arrogant prick,” she said out loud.

She spent an hour, maybe more, watching the bottle and memorizing the label. She remembered the way he tasted when he kissed her the last time, before she knew he was going to walk out, when she thought everything was fine. He had tasted like vodka and grapefruit juice and Marlboros.

Last times. There were so many last times now, when she had expected only first times. That was her fault, her own arrogance. She had planned on more than just one night. She didn’t want to look back on the last time she had a man in her bed and remember it with anything less than happiness. She didn’t want him to be the last time.

She rose from the chair and pulled the bottle of vodka from the high shelf. She
unscrewed the cap and took a swig. It made her grimace, made her stomach heave. But that much was done. He hadn’t been the last to drink from the bottle. She opened the fridge and pulled out the grapefruit juice. The taste made her nose tickle.

She walked to the living room and found the remote control for the television. Flipped it on. He had been watching the Spanish channel. She turned the channel to something more American: Country Music Television. She saw the cigarette butts in the glass ashtray and wished he hadn’t taken the Marlboros. She didn’t smoke, but she could learn fast.

She yanked the towel off the shower rod. It was still damp. She climbed into the shower and turned it on, let the water wash her clean. She would not cry.

She grabbed the soap he had used and threw it in the garbage can. The toothbrush, too. The pretty gown he hadn’t bothered to notice went into the washing machine. She yanked the sheets off the bed so hard that one corner ripped. She stalked to the washer and threw those in, too.

When it was halfway through the cycle she realized she had forgotten to add the detergent. She started the washer again and this time added a generous cup of Tide.

She skimmed the classifieds. He had been looking for houses. What a fucking joke. She ripped up the paper, tore it into shreds. She dumped it all in the trashcan and a few pieces bounced up to peek over the edge. She found the mug he drank from, sitting there beside the sink. She turned on the tap, filled it up, and drank from it herself.

Paul wasn’t the last.

She picked up the phone. Pressed redial and studied the number. He had called the rental car place. She stared at the number for a long time. When had he decided to
leave, exactly? Why had he flown halfway across the country to get to her? Why
in the world would a man do that if he had intended to leave after one night?

She sat down on the couch and her body protested. Everything hurt. It wasn’t just the muscles in her thighs or the bite on her shoulder or the back of her throat. It was everything, from head to toe. It was the pain of the shock, settling in.

She called her friend Tom.

She wasn’t sure, even then, what she was going to do. She just knew she had to do something. She couldn’t sit there and breathe the same air with the traces of his cigarette on it. She couldn’t let herself remember all those things he said and did and wanted. She couldn’t be comfortable in her own skin as long as the memory of his hands was upon her.

Tom answered and she quickly got to the point. “I need you to come over.”

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Everything,” she said.

Tom came over. His face was etched with worry. He sat down beside her on the couch and the story came out a little at a time. Now the shock was wearing off, and along with that disappearance came anger—a vile, simmering anger that made her head feel as though it was too small for her body. Her heart pounded in her chest and even that hurt. It made the bite marks throb a little each time her blood pumped underneath the tender skin.

“I don’t want him to be the last man who touched me,” she said to Tom.


Shanna Germain said...

HUGE CONGRATS, Gwen! That totally rocks! I'm so happy for you.

Best, s.

Will Belegon said...

What should I express first? My congratulations or my envy of Tom?

Of course, none of us authors ever project into anyone's stories...I'm too busy reading critically for that. Really, I read the excerpt and I was just looking for missed punctuation, I swear...

Gwen Masters said...

Thanks for the congrats! I was really happy to be included in this book, and especially happy to be alongside some of my favorite authors.

Suuuuuuure, Will...weren't projecting, huh? Okay, I believe you. *snort*