Let Me Off Here

The girl’s blonde hair hung down over the top of her shoulders.  The cord ran out of her skirt pocket and up her bare side, splitting into two with one ending in each ear.  When her arms were in the air, either behind or on top of her head, sometimes grabbing her hair, he could see the white skin with small, black stubble and the orange line where the fake tan ended.  Earlier, she had taken off everything except the skirt, and now she had her palms flat on his chest, pushing herself up and letting herself fall.  He assumed she was moaning, based on the past, but his earphones were in as well and the music was loud and it was hard for him to know for sure.

I wonder what she’s listening to, he thought.  He cleared the bangs away from her eyes and said, “Hey, what are you listening to?”

She’d had not looked up when he moved her bangs.  She was still staring down at his chest and her eyes were closed.

He flicked her on the forehead with his middle finger.

“Hey, what are you listening to?”

The girl ripped the earphones out in anger.  “Don’t fucking flick me,” she yelled.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to disturb you.”

Hurt by his words, she said, “Oh, fuck you.  You started this shit.”

“All I want to know is what you’re listening to.”

“What does it matter anyhow?”

“Well, aren’t you curious what I’m listening to?”

From the beginning, the girl had wanted to know very much, thinking she had a right to know, but at the same time she did not want to know.  If she did not know then she would not dwell on it.

Who is in his ear when he’s inside me, she then thought.

“Sure, tell me,” she said.

Holding out the phones for her, he said, “Nelly Furtado.”

Feeling the pain in the pit of her stomach, as if she’d been punched, she thought, isn’t he having a swell time, and she could not bring herself to say anything.  She had known it was happening but hearing it out loud drove it home into her heart.

“Now tell me,” he said, “I told you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said, and put the phones back in her ears, closed her eyes, and began pushing herself up again and letting herself fall.   Just get through this, she thought, don’t cry in front of him like this.

The man, feeling more than curious now, thought to himself, I bet she’s picturing whoever it is.

He reached up to grab the earpiece and she smacked his hand away.

“Cut it out,” she said.  I can’t believe I thought it’d be different, she thought, what a fool I am.

I’ll feel like such a fool if he finds out, she then thought.

Frustrated with the girl, he said, “You’re kidding me, right?”

“You started this shit.”

“Like you’re any better,” he said, seeing the cord run up her body and thinking how distant she had been earlier, “You don’t seem to mind the idea.”

I do it for you, she thought.  Then she said, “What choice do I have?”

“You were into it before.”

“But you’re barely present now.”

Getting defensive, he said, “Well, buy me a stereo, then.”

“You’re barely even here,” she said.

“And where are you?  You’re off somewhere else, too, probably thinking about whoever you’re listening to.”

As the words left his mouth he knew it was a mistake.

“Oh, fuck this,” she said, getting off of him and dressing and walking out.

“Come on,” he called after her, “Don’t be like this. I’m sorry.”

And then she was gone and he picked up the player she left on the bed and took it in his hand and pushed down the button to see what she was listening to and nothing happened.

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