The Female of the Species

Contributor: Shannon Barber

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“I had my hands around your throat last night while you were sleeping.”

I’ve been watching you all morning. I watched you shave and carefully put on your blue shirt with white French collar and cuffs, your matching tie. Now I’m looking at your face while you give me one of your ever-patient smiles.

“I’ll be that was a whopper of a dream.”

I try to laugh and you kiss me on the cheek, then the nose then so tenderly on the lips that I want to punch you in the face.

“Don’t forget to take your pills.”

You don’t understand and I don’t have the words to tell you. What I meant to say was that last night while you were sleeping I turned over and looked down at you and put my hands around your throat, I felt your pulse under my thumb and the only thing I wanted to do was squeeze. I wanted to squeeze until you came awake clawing at my hands trying to pull them off.

I wanted to watch the red dots bloom in your eyes, I wondered if your hyoid bone would break. I held my own breath and had to crawl out of bed, go out to the couch and masturbate furiously until I came three or four times, by the end tears were streaming down my cheeks because I felt ashamed. Beneath my shame at my arousal I felt burning lust.

Since my body began to fail I smolder inside. When I tried to tell you, when I tried with tears in my eyes and an I.V in my arm, you took my free hand and said it was cold. You said you understood that I must feel so helpless and how much you wished you could give me the strength to express my rage.

I’m getting better. I wander around in my pajamas, every morning you kiss me and tell me not to forget my pills. You just have no idea what is happening to me.

You don’t know that some days when the light of mid afternoon is filtering into the kitchen that I pull the huge sharp knife out of the block, I take my jammies off and press the cold metal to my nipple. I test the edge there, just enough to make the flesh pucker and tingle. I let the neighbor you hate watch.

You don’t know that today I will do this, I am already watching the angle of the light on the floor because I’m shaking so hard, I'm grinning and wet. So wet.

Something happened during the long pale blue hours in the middle of the night at the hospital. I spent all those hours hooked to IV’s, monitors, and the catheter I still have nightmares about. I’m not sure what it was that changed, perhaps the veneer of being nice or decent just wore away.

I had held onto this belief that I was not the kind of human being who could do something destructive simply to be destructive. Somewhere deep inside that wakeful unconscious I found my violent molten core. The nurses gave me stress balls when I couldn’t sleep and I would lay in bed squeezing and squeezing, my hands got strong while the rest of me was dying.

Eventually I realized that something in me had changed and would never be the same. After many long nights, surreptitious masturbation and violent fantasies, I am calm. I feel real.

I shuffle back into the kitchen and look at the counter where you thoughtfully put a new tin of my favorite tea next to my pile of pill bottles. You have been so solicitous and kind through all of this bullshit, nightly I want to murder you in your sleep.

I can hear your voice in my head as I make myself lunch and take my pills. The sun is almost to the right spot on the floor and as I rinse my dishes I stare at the knife in the block.

Maybe today I will draw blood, maybe today I will feel human.

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Shannon Barber writes things, crochets things and drinks a lot of hot beverages. She also is very interested in pie.
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