“Nothing” by Mike Finn : The thing we don’t talk about shares our bed, dampening lust, drowning love, leaving only darkness and noisy silence.

I recently re-read this story. I posted it under another name in 2008. I’ve decided I’d like to reclaim it and share it here.

nothingThe thing we don’t talk about shares our bed, dampening lust, drowning love, leaving only darkness and noisy silence.

With my back towards my husband, feigning sleep, I can hear it growing, fed by my memory, his imagination, and our guilt, pushing us apart with its bulk and our fear of its contaminating touch.

It lasted less than twenty minutes. This bed has known hours, perhaps days of hard, hungry, hasty, happy sex; yet, like a drop of ink in a glass of water, my minutes of held-down, forced-open, pushed-into, spilt-upon abuse have tainted everything.

The memory, mercilessly clear and muscle-deep, forces itself upon me when I sleep. I wake in fear and guilt, struggling not to let my husband see the barb still in my flesh

Guilt is the worse thing: mine for letting it happen, his for being absent, ours for all the times we fantasized and role-played that which we now will not name.

Time was, I would lie beneath my husband, hands held above my head, looking into his eyes to see the moment when all control vanished and I would feel loved.

Now we look away, furtively fearful of the knowledge we would see reflected there of who we were and what we have lost, what was taken from us.

The loss, I know, will continue. Sex was the heartbeat of our marriage, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, always strong. Now it’s flat-lined. The machinery of our routine is breathing for us but that can’t last. My husband will leave me. Perhaps he has already left me in everything except body.

Unable to bear thinking about the future and unwilling to revisit our tainted past, I summon the memory of the one who did this to me. If this were my fantasy he would have been driven to his actions by uncontrollable lust. I would be a scar he would carry on his heart for life. The reality is that I was an impulse, a drive-thru burger, consumed for convenience and forgotten.

That makes me angrier than anything else, more than the loss and the guilt and too-often remembered humiliation, I am angry at my own lack of meaning.

I turn over to face my husband. His back is tense. He’s pretending to sleep. My guess is that he is clinging to the hope that I will not, finally, speak of what happened, will not require from him an answer.

I open my mouth but no words come. I have nothing left to say.

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