A MONUMENT OF GIRL
words by FRANKIE BARNET
illustrations by CELESTE CARES
I am walking alone when I see a man and woman eating out each other’s ice cream cones by the museum. I think, is that my boyfriend? That looks like my boyfriend only much happier!
Another time a photograph of a different girl falls out of my boyfriend’s book bag while I’m cleaning. She has legs wide open and my boyfriend says, “give me that!”
I tell my boyfriend that I do not understand. “What do you see in them?” I ask, these other girls.
He cries, “I like Vanessa’s hair but I don’t like liking Vanessa’s hair. I like Ruby’s personality, but I don’t like liking Ruby’s personality.”
“So what do you like?”
“You!” My boyfriend rips the photograph into pieces. He says he wants to kiss me. He wants to hold me in his arms. He wants me to wrap his legs around him, the way I like. My boyfriend is so close to me, that thickness I am familiar with. “Well, I want to want to,” he says. He shrugs.
We decide as a couple that it’s best for my boyfriend to move into the living room because trying to love me has become too hard on his stomach. “You remind me of other girls,” he says, “the ones I am trying to ween off of.”
One morning he visits me in the bedroom with tears in his eyes. “Last night,” he says, “I had a dream that I loved you. I dreamt we were back at my aunt’s house in New Hampshire, watching deer from the window. Do you remember that? It was raining and you wore only a robe.”
I look at his face. He’s never had another one in his life. That’s my boyfriend’s face! That’s my boyfriend body, the arms and legs and torso he lives inside of. “When I woke up,” he says, “I still loved you. But then the real day sunk in and I remembered that I do love you.”
My boyfriend and I met years ago at the university. Him and I 69ed on a sheepskin rug I kept as an homage to my late poodle, then looked into each other’s eyes and said, “so… what are we?” He told me about when his mother died from a disease in her lungs and that he missed her very much. I shared my own minute and boring details of longings that were not quite possible to articulate. My boyfriend said that he was very sad. I held his hand and said, “me too, ever since I was a little girl.” Then he held his elbow over his face and started to cry. I thought, I’m going to be sad for the rest of my life.
“What?” my friends always ask. “Did his father want to love his mother or something?”
I wait for my boyfriend to come home at night. I take a shower and every single noise I hear, every creak in the floor, I think that it is my boyfriend. I turn the water off, still draped in lather, to listen for it is my boyfriend but it is never my boyfriend.
I try on all the sexy things I have in my closet, slipping into the delicate lace and imagining that my boyfriend can see me, look at me the way that boyfriends look at girlfriends, wide eyed as if my body is truly something to behold, a monument of girl. I have been loving my boyfriend for so long and I do it all by myself. Nobody is helping me, I think, not even my boyfriend. I carry it all alone.
It is so late and my boyfriend is not here, he is out there, where the girls are rampant, an epidemic. It is so late he must be drinking. The girls too, are drunk, stumbling home and spinning in their beds because they’ve met a boy who likes them back.
The love is thick, heavy and it has made me strong. Do not text him, do not text him. But I am so strong I can do whatever I want.
I want u
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