The last time I saw Michael was late at night. His grandmother had just died and he called me in a panic. He sounded hurt, confused, but not surprised. She was old, but he wasn’t ready for her to die. I asked him if he was keeping himself busy. He said that he was alone in a bar. I asked if he needed company and he said yes. I took a second to think. He took that moment to quickly add he didn’t want to be an inconvenience. So I insisted. When someone says they don’t want a piece of your cake, you ask again. They take it the second time around. I wanted to leave the house badly and have someone to take up my time. Being alone was making me lonely.
We met in a bar that had all red walls and a lot of house wine. We sat close on the couch while live Indian music played. Every now and again his hip would touch mine and I would lean into it. But I couldn’t stop his concentration. I listened to him talk for hours, nodding, helping him grieve. He talked about their relationship, how she was his last grandparent. I looked away once he teared up. But he never full-on cried. I guessed that he wanted to keep his composure in front of a lady. He had another glass of cabernet and I finished my tea and so we left to walk towards his apartment. I’d travelled half an hour to his neighborhood where it was quiet and residential. I’d been to his place a month before. It felt good that time. His hands were strong and they put the right pressure between my hips. He told me that I didn’t need to be there, that I was too young for him. He was so much older that it felt like I had entered an adult relationship. He would say these things, but then kissed me wet like he didn’t care about anything. So I figured I could come back for another round of reassurance that I was pretty.
“But you’re so young. You can do so much better than me. Look at this.” he pinched his arms and stretched the skin.
I wondered if this was some sort of tactic men used with young girls. But it still made me feel superior in some way, like I was making progress.
This time, he told me he needed a friend and that he trusted me as we walked to his house. He asked me to come upstairs. He kissed me on the couch, right on my lips. His tongue whipped into mine so quickly I didn’t have the chance to reciprocate. He didn’t notice much. He was an awful kisser.
We moved to the bedroom and lay on his baby-blue sheets. He put my head on his chest and said, “Oh God, you’re so pretty. What are you doing here?”
I asked, “Do you like me?”
“How can you even ask me that?” he asked.
He kept pulling my dress up, feeling the skin there hard, and quickly pulling it down again. In the end I took the whole thing off. He would push me to the other side of the bed and talk nonsense, wouldn’t ever look me in the eyes.
He said, “I wonder if I didn’t tell, if he’d ever figure it out. Only if you told him, I guess.”
“I don’t think he’d give a shit.”
“How do you keep something like this a secret?”
“Easy-peasy.” I said and I meant it.
“This would never work. Thirteen years is a lifetime for some people.”
He thinks my brother would murder him, but he never did.
Michael then took my hips and rubbed himself against me. Then would push and pull me into him relentlessly. His stubble scratched at my tanned face. I couldn’t focus. He had two cats in the living room, Sam and Mister, both above the age of ten. He rescued both of them, and felt that cleaning their fur off the couch might insult them. They didn’t make a noise while we rolled around the bed but then I’d taste a hair in my mouth and it would remind me that they could be aware of what we were doing. I tried to pull the hair out with my wet thumb while he fingered me. The strand kept sticking to the roof of my mouth, tickling me. I swallowed it as he took off his pants.
He lay down next to me and rolled over to hug my stomach with his thigh. He took my hand and kissed into the palm. I looked at him then, trying to figure out what he wanted from me. The night was just coming to a calm so he opened the window. I told him that was I susceptible to mosquito bites.
“That’s not true.” he said.
“Yes, it is. Some blood is sweeter, there’s a science to it.”
“No, you’re just unlucky.”
He started kissing my neck again. He put that pressure to my hips so my muscles relaxed underneath him. I turned my neck to the right so he could get my collarbone and I saw his cat wander in. It was white, with orange patches. The hair was wiry, but it still looked thick enough to pet. It crawled low to the floor until it reached the foot of the bed. It hovered and moved closer to the frame. I wanted to somehow sooth it, but I’m not a cat person.
Michael lowered himself to my ribs.
The cat lay down slowly, resting its torso on frail legs and lowered the head on its paws. The eyes closed. I looked up to the ceiling and heard the cat wheeze. Michael stopped kissing to say the cats must be hungry. He went into the kitchen and I heard the cat breathe heavier, I looked over and it hadn’t moved.
“Sammy, Sammy, come eat.” I heard Michael call from the kitchen.
I reached down to the floor and poked its head. The eyes were open wide, but there was nothing behind them. The pupils were huge and distant.
I scratched my arm. It was a mosquito bite.
He kept calling Sammy. I poked it once more and retracted to get further away. I turned over to face away from it, to the window. I heard Michael walking around, trying to find the cat and then coming into the bedroom and yelling Sammy when he saw her there. I didn’t move, curled up like I was asleep. I twitched, trying not to scratch my bite as he began to cry.