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by Annie Dawid

Are you disgusted with me now? Do you hate me? I didn’t know what kind of language to use today, talking about sex. I couldn’t say that guy and I made love. Or even had sex. Fucking was what it was. How ugly did it sound? I think I prettied it up, actually. Didn’t mention the groping and pawing we started right in the gallery, continued on the sidewalk, or that I slipped and fell and dragged him down with me so we could make out on somebody’s lawn for a while, soaking in the snow. Got yelled at, even. And, scrounging through his liquor chest at home for more bourbon, finding none, switching to scotch — one swig I actually took from the bottle while he went to get glasses. Did I say how comfortable I felt the whole time, being wasted and sexual with a stranger? Strangers, sex, and booze: my favorite combination plate. I hate alcohol with all my soul, as much as I love it. If only it wasn’t so damn effective. If only you passed directly to the bleary stumble. But no: the first two welcome you in. So sweetly. Like nothing else in the world.

Your definition of an alcoholic shocked the shit out of me. Does it mean you drink a lot? Or that you drink very little? It wouldn’t be as dangerous for you anyway, not in the same way it is for me, to take a stranger home or go to their home. It’s different for a man. (Do we even belong to the same species?) But I can hear the question: why do I do these things? I can’t help it; that’s the whole truth. Not once I start. There I was all dressed up in Caroleah’s Cuisinarted kitchen and she marches me off to the gallery — with definite intentions. Maybe vicarious pleasure is what she had in mind the whole time. When I stumble in the next day all disheveled, she asks if I had a good time, winking. I said “Kinda.” And she laughs conspiratorially: O the exciting life of a single woman. As if she misses it. With that boring husband of hers, maybe she misses something. No more “carefree” casual sex, as if sex was ever that way.

I know I can’t have you, Dr. Burning-a-hole-in-my-heart, and sometimes something is better than nothing. Have you for what? Dinner? (and breakfast!). I could pretend his hairy chest might be just like yours, the tiny wisps of white hair I once saw poking from your collar. Something appealing there. And repugnant, simultaneously, the smell of male sweat. So far, I haven’t smelled your sweat at all — only that cologne I like so much. (I wish I could ask you what kind so I could buy myself a bottle and scent up my studio, my bed.) Such skinny fingers — musician’s hands? Steven had great big carpenter’s hands — the better to paw you with, my dear. I loved them. Then. How would you paw me?

Annie Dawid has published three books of fiction: And Darkness Was Under His Feet: Stories Of A Family (Litchfield Review Press, winner of their Short Fiction Prize); Lily In The Desert (Carnegie Mellon University Press Series in Short Fiction); and York Ferry: A Novel (Cane Hill Press). Her long short story, Jonestown: Thirty Years On, was a finalist in the Eric Hofer Short Story Contest and published in Best New Writing 2015 (Hopewell 2014).

Most recently, she won the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers Award in the Personal Essay and the 2013 New Rocky Mountain Voices Award for her short play, Gunplay. In 2012, she won the Fall Flash Fiction Orlando Award from A Room of One’s Own Foundation and the Essay Prize from the Dana Awards. She has taught two workshops at the Taos Summer Writers Conference, University of New Mexico, and at the Castle Rock Writers Conference (Colorado). Currently, she teaches fiction writing at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado, after retiring as Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, 1990–2006.