|Her Lips are Bitterness
By Jenny Orosel
She watched the empty street through her kitchen window. One last glance out into the dark and she left the room, turning off the light behind her. That was the first time she turned that light off in two weeks. Delia had kept it on in case Joe happened to be driving by, maybe on his way home from work or to the store. Even if he was coming by just to see her. He’d see the light and know she was home. Maybe he’d come by without calling, since he had done that once. Once in four months. Still, there had been hope. After two weeks the hope was gone. The light was turned off.
In fact, she had been home most of those two weeks. Working from her apartment allowed her that luxury. She’d only left for the corner store to buy rice and soup (which she barely touched those moments she remembered to eat) and cigarettes. Even there she hated going; the man behind the counter was fuming bitterness over the fact his new life in America was no better than the one he left thousands of miles behind.
She had been home and waiting. Joe never came. Now Delia accepted that he never would.
Loneliness was liquefying her insides. There had been longer stretches than two weeks alone. Something was different this time. The empty space in her arms was bigger than it ever had been. Delia was determined not to be by herself. At least for a little while.
She grabbed her wallet and Camels, tossing them in the direction of her purse. In her closet was that red sweater. There was nothing remarkable about it on the hanger, but when it draped over her body Delia knew she looked good. It was the same sweater she had on that last night out with Joe.
She knew it would be the night and pulled out all the stops. Delia had waited those four months to build a strong relationship. In those long sixteen weeks Joe had told her how he’d never met anyone like her before and never fallen so hard in love. He asked her to marry him. Although she never said no, Delia wanted to wait until she was sure. Until they made love and she gave herself over completely. They shared a romantic dinner. Pleasant, even though the waitress was still grieving over the death of her brother.
He lasted about ten minutes after it happened. Nervous stammers of having to go to work early and feed the cat. He dressed in such a rush he left his boxers behind (they were still hidden under her bed just in case he came back for them). On his way out he leaned over to give her a kiss goodbye, though better of that, and walked out the door with his eyes cast down. Her last memory of Joe was the back of his head.
A spritz of perfume and she walked out that same door herself. One last desperate glance up and down the street for Joe’s car solidified her resolve not to be alone that night.
Even though the bar was only a half mile away Delia took her car. She didn’t want to risk running into anyone until it was time.
She asked the bartender for a beer. He was still getting over the last of the flu and he stank of defeated viruses. It smelled of rotten fish and eggs. When he brought the bottle to her, Delia inhaled it deeply, trying to cover the stench in her nostrils. A man and his date stood at the bar next to her. Delia heard the cruel words shouted at him many years ago, words that still kept wounds festering and oozing. She could taste the blood in the woman’s mouth, brought on by maternal fists fueled with resentment. The couple left, only to be replaced by an elderly man carrying guilt of a long finished affair he had no idea his wife finished crying about a decade ago. Twice a single guy tried to approach her. The first radiated so much desperation it stabbed through Delia until her heart wept. The second had a fiery red aura of hate, bitterness towards women who scorned him every chance they got, vile creatures they were. Both were turned away. Let them give their pain to some other woman. Delia had enough, thank you very much.
She wasn’t going to be able to last much longer there. The crowd was getting too big. A cloud hung in the air heavy with aches and grief. While the people washed their pains away with booze, their residue remained. Delia absorbed it all. Her soul was screaming out from rooftops, pleading to no one and everyone. A few more minutes and she’s have to go running.
Then he came to her. His name was Tommy. He was a little buzzed and happy to be there, his last final exam safely behind him and two weeks of freedom to dance through. Tommy was happy, and there was nothing about him to make her suffer. After fifteen minutes of small talk she invited him back to her house for some Coronas in a more quiet setting. Fueled by intoxication he was quick to agree.
Delia had eleventh hour hesitation. Tommy was so exited, so purely happy at the prospect of cheap sex. She hated to ruin things for him. But than empty space was so hollow, echoing with her own needs. He’d get over it. That night she could be as selfish as she wanted. It was the least she deserved.
She undressed in front of him and he followed her lead. They headed towards the bedroom, leaving a trail of abandoned clothing behind. Tommy kissed her, leaning her onto the bed. Her lips tasted of tears (she tasted along with him). With every touch of her bare flesh, pinpricks of rage penetrated his hands. She needed this. Delia closed her eyes, pictured Joe, and climbed on top of him.
Everything was conveying from her soul to his but by that time it was too late to stop. As she rode him the emotions walled up for two weeks came bursting forth. the feel of a boot to the small of the back. a slap in the face. the pain of words that could have stopped a wife from leaving but were still left unsaid. a trust betrayed far worse than the money stolen from a wallet. terror of a rape in some back alley by an unknown man. dreams of a better life crushed. the back of joes head. imminent death following a slow path of rotting from the inside out. faces marked with blood and tears. The closer Delia came to climax the quicker the people started blending together. emotions bled to the next. They traveled through her and to Tommy like electricity into a lamp. currents of pain. fear. desperation. Delia was feeling weightless as all the emotions she’d collected drained from her soul. pain. anguish. hatred. anger. fury. rage. despair. desperation. terror. pain.
Delia came. For half a moment she felt like she had died and been reborn in a pure baby’s flesh. But Tommy had no idea what happened to him. His heartbeats were dull thumps of confusion and fear.
Quickly they pretended to be asleep, ignoring the body inches away. Tommy trembled, unable to make sense of what happened. Delia pretended to be still sleeping while he dressed. No need to make him embarrassed. Delia felt that emotion fine alone. No need to transfer it to him, only to have it bounce right back.
The only sound he made was when the door closed. He never got her number. He would never call, he would never come back. That much Delia knew.
That empty space in her arms was no smaller. At least she had fresh fears in her heart. At least that was something different than before.
Jenny is the author of the e-novel "This is the Way the World Ends." www.jenny-o.com.