What is thirst besides longing? I am sitting in C.’s bed and he is helping me drink out of his water bottle, which is too heavy for me to hold even with both hands. The lights are off, but his window is cracked open; I can see the empty street from where his duvet tangles around my bare legs. There are papers from our Greek class and clothes scattered across his floor. Among them, my huge maroon sweater, my little white tank, my gray sweatpants, my pink underwear tangled inside. The water in his bottle tastes faintly metallic, like old silverware. He is touching my face. His eyes are quiet. God, how ancient and beautiful he looks, cast so softly in moonlight like a character from the myths.
What did you like to read when you were growing up?
Oh, you know. Medea, the tragedy—
Don’t know that one.
—and Anna Karenina, my favorite.
The scene where Vronsky kills the horse. God.
That was a really good scene.
I do think Tolstoy gets too much credit,
though. Bulgakov is much better.
Strobe lights and sweat, thrashing bodies. I feel like a
slippery little fish. Hands around my waist and reaching to the
ceiling, dark around the corners. My eyes are a vignette lens,
vodka hazy. Last night I called my mother and she said No
Wonder No Boys Love You, If You Talk To Them The Way You
Talk To Me. I have decided I can’t pick up my mother’s calls on
weeknights because I can’t concentrate or work for hours after she
hangs up. I have decided I am going to be in a relationship by the
end of the year. I have decided I am beautiful and C. loves me.
As a little girl I liked to collect broken stones and cracked bottles and trampled flowers, much to my mother’s dismay. I liked how the fractured bits were uneven and jagged and caught the light on their sharp parts, or how shattered glass turned the world into kaleidoscopic stars. That is, until the time when I cut my hand on the edge of a Budweiser bottle. The wound gushed dark blood, thin but deep; it took four months for the scar to fade.
What were you up so late doing last night?
Just helping a friend. With a problem.
What kind of problem? A drug problem?
No, just a problem.
Right. Forgot you’re the one with the drug problem.
Hey, you know I don’t have any problem doing drugs.
Come on! I thought that was pretty funny.
I am not sorry about most things I’ve done; I really do try my best to be good. Natalia says I should’ve known better than to hook up with my coke addict TA, but I don’t know why I’m supposed to feel guilty when C. is the one who kissed me first. Besides, being with him felt nice before it hurt, like two fingers in me and his voice in my ear saying Are You Going To Make Me Come, and I wanted to laugh because it was a stupid question, but then I was saying Do You Want Me Do You Want Me and maybe that was also a stupid question, so it was kind of him not to laugh too.
That was good.
His fingers in my hair. Warm breath, in and out and in and
out, against my right ear. My head fit so close against his chest like a
lock. I was a little girl again, held tight against him the way I would once
lie with my father, skin to skin, heart to heart. That was how
safe I felt when I was lying with him.
xxxxxxxx hears the concerns of the ESV movement and those affected by sexual
violence. We are
sorry and disappointed to hear that sexual
continued in xxxxx’s fraternity spaces. xxxxxxxx has had long standing policies to
keep people safe. xxxxxxxx has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual
violence in our
constitution. We deeply apologize to anyone who has experienced sexual
violence at xxxxx and
wish to be a part of the solution. While fraternities can become
spaces of toxic masculinity, we also believe they can be a place for fun, healthy
interactions. As an organization, we believe that we have created and actively
cultivated a positive culture, yet acknowledge that there is still plenty of work to do to
violence from xxxxx’s campus. We will
continually seek to reform our
organization for the better. We hope that people can have fun and be safe at our
parties and that our members feel safe and able to speak up about what must
change. We wanted to share this update, but our work is not done. Thank you.
Sometimes I want to ruin his life—I want to make him hurt so
deep and hard and sharp, like a melon sliced open. I want him to
scream and cry the way I did the first time B. touched me, blood on
black lace. I want him to look down when he sees me, to walk the
long way to avoid the building where I live, to feel his throat
close when he hears my voice. I want him to fear me the way
I fear them all.
Dear Professor xxxxx,
I hope this note finds you well. I am writing to inform you about a recent incident in which xxxxxxxxx, the teaching assistant of this course,
repeatedly asked me for sexual favors was sexually intimate with me tried to have sex with me initiated sexual relations with me in violation of the xxxxx University code of conduct for TAs. I felt powerless I feel powerless I wanted him I don’t know what to Now that the situation has soured, I am afraid that his position of power will lead to retaliation in my course performance. I thought it best to inform you about this before it escalates further.
Dear Professor xxxxxi, I hope this note finds you well. I am writing to inform you about a recent incident in which xxxxxxxx, the teaching assistant of this course, repeatedly asked me for sexual favors was sexually intimate with me tried to have sex with me initiated sexual relations with me in violation of the xxxxx University code of conduct for TAs. I felt powerless I feel powerless I wanted him I don’t know what to Now that the situation has soured, I am afraid that his position of power will lead to retaliation in my course performance. I thought it best to inform you about this before it escalates further. All best,
On Wednesday I find out I’ve gotten a job in DC, starting in June. Lily says she thinks a party girl summer will be good for me. Three months of happy hours with politicians and fucking lobbyists and waking up beside Senate aides. Yes, what I need is to shed my inhibitions. What I need is to care less about the small things so I can care more about the big things, like law school and racism and making good art. What I need is to let the small things roll right off of me.
I was going to write exclusively about C. because he was the most important thing happening to me, and also because I wanted to show that I could understand him. I wanted to show that I could understand a beautiful man who want[s/ed] me, though maybe my charm wore off for him once I sucked his cock, or once I told him I thought he was 5’11, or once I refused to sleep over because I didn’t want his friends to see me coming out of his room. Or maybe I never charmed him to begin with, and it was all just some kind of sick game with W. and L., trying to see how easy it would be to get my pants down. I wish I hadn’t made it so easy; I wish I hadn’t taken my sweater off, or put his hand down my sweatpants, or held him inside my mouth. I wish I hadn’t let W. fuck me that day even though I’d told him I was too high for sex, or let B. thrust against me until I cried, or let N. make me scream when all his friends were standing with their ears against the door. I wish I could say no in a bigger voice. I wish I didn’t need so desperately to be touched. I wish I didn’t ask for it.
I figured it was worth trying to see you
even though I’m your TA.
You really thought this through, didn’t you.
This summer is my summer. I am going to lose six pounds and cut my hair and spend half my salary to get my skin fixed for real this time. I hope there aren’t a lot of Chinese girls in DC because I tend to hate myself less when I’m around white people—maybe because I don’t feel like I have to compete with them, or maybe just because I grew up being exotic and I don’t know how to let go of that feeling. But deep down I know I’m not built for being a party girl, mostly because I care too much, but also because exoticism only gets me so far when the only boys I want are the ones who don’t know how to be in love with anybody.
No faculty, graduate or medical student, medical resident or fellow, postdoctoral fellow or associate, teaching or research assistant or fellow,
proctor, mentor, or undergraduate teaching assistant shall request or accept sexual favors from or engage in a romantic, sexual or intimate relationship with
any undergraduate, graduate or medical student who is enrolled in a course or section taught by that individual or otherwise subject to that individual’s academic
supervision. Academic supervision includes teaching, advising, supervising research, serving on a dissertation or other academic committee, grading, mentoring,
coaching, overseeing and/or having influence upon funding and/or academic progress, and/or otherwise occupying a position of influence or
power over a student’s academic program.
Saturday night, flushed and glittering and wine-drunk enough for the
whole world to be spinning around. I am wearing pale purple
lace to J.’s birthday party. J. is kissing me—I am
kissing J. By the time I am stumbling onto the little
bus back to my dorm, he is all over my
lips, sharp and sweet.
At the stop by CVS, C. climbs on the bus. He is still dressed for the Delta Tau formal: navy suit, half-buttoned shirt. I know he sees me because he stares in my direction for a second too long before he walks wordlessly to the back row. I press my face to the window, cold enough to taste stars.
In silence, the world slips away behind us. The
night strokes the glass, thick and heavy. Streetlights
hum in the distance. We go forward, forward,