Her house is the house. Anyone can show up; anyone can stay. And that’s the draw. But more have shown up this time than ever before and it’s a bit overwhelming. Elbow to elbow, full of body heat. Loud. So loud. Between the energy of the crowd and the bouncing music, the house can appear as if it’s pulsing. She runs through the rooms making sure people are keeping their shit contained. How the hell does she always wake up to a clean house after these parties? They respect! They are not allowed if they don’t. She scolds with the quick. The house is small and she runs a tight ship. She cracks the whip, ‘Empty your ashtrays! Throw your beer cans in the trashcan!’ There has never been a house party so orderly. Half show up just to say they came. This helps, cuz they’ll leave soon enough. The throngs are in the backyard. The close friends are in the living room. The tighter-knit ones are in her bedroom, sitting on the floor in a circle, smoking bowls. All of this starts with whispering at the lockers no later than Thursday, leading into the weekend. It’s trailed through the hallways by final bell on Friday. Yes, she’ll have people over on Saturday. These ‘gatherings’ can escalate into chaos quickly. Cars park blocks way. She has been known to stand on her front porch and direct people straight to the backyard when they walk up. She is the host, the eagle eye, and the chaperone. Keys are grabbed if too much alcohol is consumed. These weekends have become too consistent, now there is an expectation. Funny how that happens. A consistency, then an expectation. I don’t owe any of these people anything she thinks. Half the people who show up she doesn’t even socialize with. That’s how she knows it’s gotten out of hand. This will be the last of these.
As the crowd thins, she tidies beneath them. Entire rooms are cordoned off for a grand sweep-wipe-vacuum. Yes, there is vacuuming and the straightening of rug fringe even while people are in attendance. It’s ludicrous, and she is teased about it. Yet they wouldn’t dare mess it up. They may not be invited back.
When she finally rises the next morning, there are a handful of people who’ve made cots on her bedroom floor or fallen where they’ve run out of steam in the living room. There’s a bizarre quiet and stillness to these mornings. She is often the first to rise, so she walks through and takes inventory. She makes coffee and takes it back to bed till others stir.
She pops two cans of biscuits and gets them in the oven. Bread feeds a crowd. It’s the cheapest and easiest way. She scrambles what is left of a carton of eggs. Always biscuits and eggs, jelly on the side. It’s only ever her tightknit crew on these mornings. Waking up to a clean house and serving this breakfast has become a ritual. The next morning is part of the party, too.
He had been golfing all day at the country club. Which means, he has been drinking all day on the golf course. Of course, of course. When he’s in these situations, he takes an Uber home, then an Uber back to his car the next morning. These situations are too many lately. Going out and drinking too much, then the back-and-forth Ubers. He’s $1k in the hole this month already. He’s put on weight, too. Everything needs to change. Fuck it, he calls her. She only lives a mile away from the club. “Sure,” she says. “That’s fine. But you’re only staying the night!” He knows what that implies. He’s too drunk and excited and believing he can get away with anything.
He arrives quickly and rushes in with all the boisterousness alcohol brings. He cups her face with both his hands and kisses her hard on the lips. She lets it go; there’d at least be that. But she has put her foot down. So he is pushed away with the offer of a water and a shower. Too kind, too kind. He is soon bellowing above the cascading water and narrating the entire shower experience. He delights in every product used, trying everything in the shower caddy, oohing and aahing over the smells and textures. When he finally makes it out, he asks about a body lotion. Surely there is something else to try. He is fully immersed in self-care and the luxury of it all. A new world has opened up to him. Dear lord, he is drunk. Next, he’ll ask for a robe in his size. She’s been lying on her bed half-laughing, half annoyed. God, would he hurry up! Finally, finally. He whines about having to sleep on the couch. She has been generous enough and knows she won’t get any sleep if he is in her bed.
He is groggy the next morning. She is as patient and considerate as she’s going to be, and makes them both coffees. They sit across from one another in the living room while he ties his shoes. After he appears sorted out, conversation about nothing of consequence is carrying on. Geez, she was really being overly polite letting him stay; now he is being unnecessarily polite lingering too long.
I’m Sorry. Body Politic, Brocka.
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We’ll talk to the ceiling. You’ll think that’s how I’m feeling, blank –emotionless. So much needs revealing. So we’ll lay it out –motionless.
Feeling hopeless, I turn off the light so you can’t see my pain. You can’t see me cry. That’s how I like it.
Sorry I couldn’t say what you needed me to say inside this space.
I’m in the opposite place, where I hope you’re gone when I wake. So I can roam freely without another needing me. I hole-up in my head, never alone. Don’t need your arms around to feel at home. You didn’t deserve it. For you, it was what I could give.
Sorry I couldn’t say what you needed me to say inside this space. Sorry I couldn’t say.
You don’t have to ask me all the time, take my advice. You wanna please. I resent that. You’ll come to resent me.
You call me heartless when I can’t conform to the shape of being held, of holding hands, of showing up, of wanting it; of wanting it.
I’m sorry I couldn’t say what you needed me to say inside this space. Sorry I couldn’t be who you wanted me to be inside this space.