Really? I said. I told him nudity between strangers was more about sex. And did he think I just fell off some turnip truck? It occurred to me suddenly that I had never seen an actual turnip truck, which rankled.
I’m not going to touch you, he replied. Just get naked. You’ll see.
I said I didn’t believe. Said I had to work in the morning. Said, I have big male balls, Jason. Is that your name? Said, I have issues. Added, I’m not even sure I like you, though you seem nice.
He said you should believe me. My grandmother had an ankle to ribcage scar that made it hard to believe she'd even lived through the injury. She believed I could show people love with just my gentle glance, and their nudity. Her name was June.
I thought June’s big ole scar was my heart, but said, so this story pertains how? Seated in his dingy apartment that reeked of bananas, I wanted bread with sweet rot and threads of brown. Biological heirlooms. Pleasant quiet.
I didn’t regard him. He watched my ass and shoulders and lips.
It’s a way I have of regarding naked people, he said to the back of my neck, weaseling close. Grandma said it’s a look of pure love. You want it? The come on baby was silent. He was working on my acid-blue jeans, the buttons of my sweater, my blouse already half off. Love, he said. Pure love. Jared. That’s me.
The sex happened briefly, like a San Diego hail storm. Afterward, I didn’t know him or anything else better. He was small everywhere. My fingers smelled like condoms, which smell like the reek of chemicals fabricated to avoid some accidental interspecies breeding.
Your grandma lied, I said. No particular way you looked at me made me feel loved. Not once.
He said, Grandma was blind. Maybe she meant it was more like a feeling I give people.
Naked people? I asked. Did she once specify nudity?
Right, he replied. I’m sure she did. I took care of her at the hospice.
But, being naked, having suddenly imagined the exact turnip truck characteristics, I could claim this wasn’t true. Right, I replied. Keep on believing that. Make some bread with those bananas. And tell your blind grandma in hospice I love her scar. It’s very big, you know?
I would, he said. But she’s dead. Can I call you sometime?
I said, Jared, I wanted somebody to talk to who could tell me about love. Real love.
I moved a pen over paper for him. Chicken scratch. The number I left on his table was not mine. Sometimes I wonder who he called then. Wonder: Why?
Heather Fowler reads a lot, writes a lot, and sometimes teaches. Please visit her website at www.heatherfowlerwrites.com for a linked-in bio and lists of current activities and events.