Problems - Jade Sharma
Somewhere along the way, there stopped being new days. Time progressed for sure: The rain tapered off through the night; near dawn, cars rumbled and then zoomed away. Sounds folded back into the world, moving on, light-years from the living room where I lay around, hardly living.
The soundtrack of the night looped every twelve hours: the hum of the refrigerator, the blare of a siren going by, the sound of someone turning on a faucet somewhere in the building. The Saturday night remix of the chatter of drunk guys, who smoked cigarettes in the courtyard and called each other “bro,” interspersed with the chorus of drunk girls’ high-pitched squeals every time a rat scurried out of the bushes.
Sometimes in the early morning, a man somewhere in the building would yell about the music being too loud. But I never heard any music. I only heard him yelling.
A buried alarm clock went off somewhere else in the building.
I puttered around my apartment in my fuzzy pink slippers, wearing purple boy shorts and a wifebeater. My husband, Peter, slept in the bedroom.
Peter. To the outside world, he was my nice, handsome husband who had to deal with me. When I cried, he held me and told me he loved me. Sometimes when I cried, he said, “Do you want some ice cream? I’ll get you some ice cream.” Sometimes when I cried, he said, “Have you run out of drugs?”
Sometimes in bed he held me as if he was a selfish little boy saying, “Mine, mine, mine,” to the world. Sometimes he took care of me because he took care of things that belonged to him.
I was the one who lost things. I was the one who wanted to talk when it was time for bed. I was the mess, and he was the one who rolled his eyes. I was the one who bought dope with the tips he brought home. He was the one who came home drunk. Who the fuck was I to tell him he’d had too much to drink when he had to deal with me? When he wasn’t being a saint, he was telling me what a saint he was to put up with me.
He was an idiot. A beautiful idiot who slept at night, woke up early, went for a run, went to work, came home drunk, passed out, and then did it all over again.
Whenever a man told me he loved me, I imagined how one day this same man would tell me I was a crazy bitch, because I am a crazy bitch.
An unlit cigarette between my lips, I looked for a light. On the coffee table: half a bottle of ginger ale, scratched-off lotto tickets, loose change, and a matchbook I kept forgetting was empty. I tried Peter’s Zippo. Spark. Nothing. Spark. Nothing. Dead. I tossed it on the couch and went to the kitchen to light the cigarette off the stove. I felt like one of those women on Intervention, smoking alone at some weird hour.
On the couch, I pressed my fingers along my rib cage, ran my hand down my belly to the crooks of my hips. I imagined my hand was Ogden’s. I stuck my hand in my underwear. I thought of how he would feel how smooth my pussy was. How his fingers would feel through the folds to my clit. How he would feel how wet he made me.
Ogden had been my professor when I was doing course work for my master’s degree in English. I had always wanted to fuck a professor, like it was the