I Need These Things to Kill Me
by Austin Nash
illustration by Alexandria Heather
My favorite women are the ones I used to fight with. Out loud or to myself. There weren’t many but they were strong. Maybe stronger than me. The first and favorite to rip my heart out was Joby. Strange name, I thought. Turned out to be an equally strange girl. She was brash and beautiful, tough, and drunker than me. She once asked me how many girls I had slept with and I lied and told her four. She was embarrased and I could tell she wished she hadn’t brought it up. When I asked her the same, she wouldn’t tell me. I was 19, and she never did. That hurt.
Somehow most of my girlfriends have had a name starting with J. There was the first, and there was Jamaica, Jennifer (two of them), Judy, and Jackie. A few others escaped this raw pattern. The toughest of them all was Jamaica. She was 19, and I was a late 23. She had pale white skin, raven hair, was a bit sickly and wicked, and she nearly killed me in only two months. She spent her time as a child reading indoors, wrote beautiful words, and contemplated suicide at several points in her life. I always admired her boldness and selfish grasp on her own identity. I guess it was something I didn’t have for myself. Now she’s on Prozac and feeling better I think.
She didn’t like crowds, or any amount of people for that matter. She was beautiful, and she liked to be tied up and blindfolded. If I told you that there was a time when I had flowery panties and black thigh highs on, I wouldn’t believe it. When she finished with me I felt inferior to her and hated her for making me feel that way. It seemed as though I had ridden on her veil as she experienced life and I fed off of the crumbs as they fell from her lips.
She whispered to me late at night when the birds were still and the clawed trees slept. A cool moisture disturbed the thin drape over the window and she spoke of fears and fantasies which I could only struggle to feel. She parleyed her desire to slip unnoticed and barefooted into the woods in Saginaw, Michigan, and freeze to death in the midst of January, the warmth in her body fading to a core as she quietly submitted to the cold and sleep. January is a beautiful word. If I ever have a little girl, I will name her January.
The time I remember most distinctly was when she said she felt a strange desire to give herself to me in pink, and she had never worn pink before in her life. It brought images of steel and cotton to my mind. She imagined that at my late arrival I would find her asleep in a chair in a frail pink gown. The gentle touch of the ribbon from her hair finding her slight wrists would awaken her.
I imagined a star’s wealth of ways to accommodate her penetrating virulence and her want for emotion and pain – the things that made her feel, the things she read as love. She once rasped, “Fuck me like you hate me,” and I still can’t shake it. It made me feel crazy the instant she said it and it made me hate her for controlling me, and so I fucked her like that. She wanted me to hurt her, and I only wanted to love her. Had I known then what I know now, I would have hated her more.
Almost two years later, I find myself wandering the streets of downtown Boston, and I don’t think about people the same way anymore. I am less social, smarter, and worse with the girls. My favorite girl (“girl” is a retentive endearment representing my fear of losing the magic of initial confrontation with a woman) is the five-foot fissure in the sidewalk adorning the steps of my apartment building on Commonwealth Ave. She has a hard look and feel, and a little moss in all the right places. She is always there and if I listen carefully, I can hear her whisper… screw you… oh so gently while I sip my gin and ice. I sometimes brush away the cold cigarette butts from her warmth. The blood of life lies here where I am tonight. Sweet satanic and mother love I, a star is born.