by Lia Dun |
My boyfriend cries when he comes home from work at ten and sees me on the kitchen floor eating hot Cheetos and drinking chicken stock out of the box. “I left you dinner in the fridge,” he says.
“Didn’t have the energy to heat it up,” I say.
I watch him try to swallow a sob and snort snot instead. I think that’s funny but don’t have it in me to laugh. I should feel guilty. All I’ve been feeling these days is guilt, but maybe I’ve finally run out.
“How do I support you?” he asks for the trillionth time, collapsing down next to me. I consider his nostril hairs, much thicker than mine, tangled and twisting and sagged with mucous. I decide they’re my favorite part of him.
“Do you want to hear a joke?” I stare straight at him with my dead glass eyes. I offer him a Cheeto.
“Sure?” He doesn’t take a Cheeto.
“You know who I think is the worst? People who have biological children. For any reason. But especially people who have them on purpose because they want to be parents.”
“Those people are basically rapists,” I say. “It’s like you’re forcing a person to have a body and exist because you just fucking want to. Without their consent. It’s a total power trip.”
“Baby, what are you saying?” He touches my cheek. I bat it away.
“You don’t think I’m funny?”
A couple months after we started dating, he took me to a Build-A-Bear, which I thought was cheesy, but I was going through a phase where I gave people a chance. At the stuffing station, he said, “People are just like these bears. It’d be so easy to rip us open and pull out our guts.”
We watched the bear get engorged with fluff by the tube in its back. I said, “That’s true.”
“Oh God,” he said. “That was so morbid! I’m sorry!” I didn’t mind, though. I was not swept up by doom at that point, but I knew I would be again. I wasn’t sure if I wanted him to understand or save me.
Sitting on the kitchen floor, hot Cheeto dust staining my T-shirt and lips, I say, “I thought you’d get it.”
“I love you.” He tries to touch me again. I flinch away.
Then laugh, I think. Why don’t you fucking laugh?
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Lia Dun is a nonbinary Chinese American writer whose work has appeared in Catapult, The Rumpus, and Autostraddle. In their free time, they can be found drinking boba and scrutinizing their birth chart.