Untitled // A Short Story

In honor of our collaboration issue, below is a short story by genevieve berrick.


The sunblock felt clammy against my skin.

Clammy and slightly repulsive, like a slug was trailing
across my palm.

I didn’t want to be there.

Sure, it was a beautiful day, a beautiful beach.
The sky, the surf, it was all… very fucking beautiful.

But in the midst of summer there are so many things to do and see, and all of them felt right then like they were infinitely more fascinating to me than being trapped on these square feet of sand. With her.

Get my back for me, will you?

I rolled over and squinted into the sunshine. That fucking relentless sunshine that beat down on me, and made my head throb with my pulse and my skin feel like it might climb right off me.

I looked over at her, and I knew how I loved her. I knew it with the rationality of a million moments of love accumulated across the days and months. But logic won’t save your world when skin tries to climb away from you.

So when my slug-filled hand moved, bidden, irresistibly towards her skin, and I pressed into the flesh that had given with such relentless and marvelous softness before, I could not fight down the flinch inside of me. No one else in that beating white-hot glare saw the tiny muscle shifts in that carefully repressedfeeling.

And she. She saw and felt none of it, as she glanced over her shoulder and tossed her glossy fucking black hair and squinted a smile at me just a little. Ta, honey.
But I knew. I knew that I was done. That hours of relentless intimacy had worn me so thin I had nothing more for her. I tried not to register it.

Days later, she fell.
It was nothing. Not a real fall. Not much of a scrape.

She’d been out of her damn mind on E, and relentlessly happy. She was dancing on the stage at the party. What a big party. What a FUN party, baby. Remember how this was? Remember how we used to dance like this? Hey come on up here.

She reached out her hand towards me, and locked smiling eyes with me, and I knew that all I had to do was take her hand again, and jump up there, and make the beats control my breathing and heart rate, and slide back in to how it used to be.

But I couldn’t.

I flinched. Again.

But this time she registered it, too. And she fell.

The edge of the stage caught her in the process. It caught her and she ripped her pants. Her pants and a little of that soft flesh that I couldn’t stand any inch of. Not any more.

And I stepped out of the way for her. Made her room. I wasn’t about to be a knight in shining fucking armor. It was taking all I had to not bolt like a sheet of hot lightning out of the pounding room.She looked up at me and, silent, grabbed my wrist and pulled me into bathroom stall with her.

She started taking off her pants, and I looked through her skin with x-ray eyes, burning every inch of it away with my gaze, and seeing nothing.

I wanted none of this. I wanted out. The party was in full swing, and all I could hear was the call of my home. My couch, and a glass of wine – that would be a party and a half right now. All the fucking joy in the world lived in that cool chablis, and those fucking throw pillows.

But she knew. And I knew. There was a precise and somehow jumbled dance of knowing and seeing nothing and being full of those goddam drugs, and all of the artificially amplified feelings in the world that were focused in that torn flesh.

Two hours. Two hours locked in a tiny bathroom stall with someone barely more than a girl weeping and demanding medical attention while both of us were unable to open the door. I have never hated such a tiny square footage of prison with such passion. But it could not open that door. Years after the fact, I remember those moments and I flinch again. But this time with the shame of them.

We were so many things, us two. But those memories, and the skin-crawling shame of my inarticulate push against her, and us – they are the freshest, the most vibrant and true of them all. That much I know.

I knew too much of myself in those moments, as I watched myself be part of them as though teleported to hover above my body.

Perhaps it was myself I couldn’t stand to see.

Or perhaps it was what we were together.

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