There, at the Deep End - Katarina Barker

I know I like someone when they leave and I don’t feel the need to burn their sweat from my pores. Instead of going straight to the shower and turning the temperature to flesh-boiling, I crawl back into bed and wrap my body in the dank, sex-stained remnants of the hours before. When I really like them, I move the side of my face along the pastel cotton of the places they’ve slept; breathing in the flakes of their dead skin, imagining it finding the warmth of my chambers, imagining it filling all the holes.

It takes me weeks to wash my sheets.

The first time I understood the attraction of having a guy come in me, he collapsed on top of me and my body didn’t shrink in response. I held his head in my arms, all of him rested between my hands and I felt something other than biology. I went to sleep and woke up feeling full knowing there was a part of him still swimming around in my abdomen.

I like it. The closeness. It’s disgusting but I need it. His body is my body and nothing else matters. I live in his skin and my skin is thicker, less aware, less anxious, less brittle. The bite marks on my collar bone, the bruises on my thighs – they remind me of how much it hurt, of how much I demanded it. I take photographs as evidence for when they disappear. Because they always do. They always do. I glue their faces onto pages next to words that I know will one day break my heart. Even as they come out of their mouth I know they’ll break my heart. I write and I write until I can’t even look at my sheets anymore. I’d burn my mattress if that wasn’t so dramatic. I’d burn his fucking house down. I scrub at my limbs until there’s nothing but red bubbles pulsating, inflamed. Get him off me. Get him off me. Get him off me. But that doesn’t work so I cut off my hair, bleach what's left. I throw out all the clothes he once used his hands to rip off me; his tongue to slide through me. The purple lace knickers induce a particular acidic spin. I drag mutilated fingers through everything he’s touched and fill black rubbish bags with everything that’s left. It’s over but I know better than to expect to be clean.

I sleep and wake on the surfaces of past lovers. They’re not in my body, they’re in my mind. I’d cut out what’s in my head if it meant something other than death.

Contributor's Note

One day I'll do more with words than just write them.


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