I love you in ways I shouldn’t. 

I hate beards but yours I do not mind. I thought I would, but then you kissed me and the whole world was there in your breath and then in my mouth and then between our tongues. I hardly noticed the hair covering your face at all. 

You have sharp knees. Sometimes they poke me. I don’t mind that either. I love kissing them, feeling the bone
of the patella curving beneath my lips. 

The self-help books say I’m supposed to be secure about our relationship but I get jealous when you’re not with me, when I cannot see you touch you smell you. I worry about your friends and what they think of me and what you think of me and what you do with them when we are not together. I worry about when you’ll come back to me. I would never show it. I smile but I hide this flaw deep, beneath my vital organs. When you’re inside me I worry you’ll find it, lurking near my spine.

I no longer talk to my best friend because of you, because you flirted and then went further and the next time I saw her I knew. I could see the damage you do all over her face but she is not like me. You didn’t look good on her. You went there when you knew you shouldn’t, because you knew you could. Sometimes you ask after her and when you do, you smile. You don’t want me to forget who you are. You are the real problem but I love you more.

When I wash your gym clothes, dry with stink and sweat, I hold them to my nose and inhale until my lungs are full and when I exhale I taste you on my breath.

I don’t like your secretary. She’s in love with you. She doesn’t hide it. She doesn’t even care that she’s the worst sort of cliché. Women like that are dangerous. They value nothing.

You are a Virgo. I never believed in the importance of astrological signs until we started seeing each other. You. Are. A. Virgo.

Your hands are so delicate. When we’re at a restaurant, I love looking at the veins pressing against the bones of your hands. I love feeling them roll beneath my fingers. I love the way you trace the boundaries of my face so softly and how you slide your fingers between my lips and then stare at me while I swallow. My body knows that the delicacy of your hands is a lie. 

Before you, I had a generous lover. He loved me and held me and there was no part of my body he would not kiss. After we made love, he always went to the bathroom, wet a small towel, brought it back to our bed, wiped me clean. I hated him. You are not a generous lover. You do not satisfy me. But when you’re inside me, moving over me, thrusting so hard I know you’re trying to break me in two, I feel full. I feel gutted.  I need that. 

When I was a girl, my father used to take me into the yard on cool fall days when the sun was dull but high and the world felt like a Polaroid picture, everything around us slowly spreading across a thin layer of emulsion. He’d hold my hands so tight he would leave bruises around my wrists. He’d spin us around and around, the wind blowing through me. I wouldn’t hear anything but I would laugh and laugh and shout faster. I closed my eyes so tight I saw stars. He never let me go but if he did, I thought I might fly up into that dull high sun. Sometimes, I hoped he would uncurl his fingers from my wrists. I hoped he would stare at me coldly as I disappeared. Being with you reminds me of flying with my father and wanting him to let go.



In the original ending of this story the narrator revealed himself to be a man. Almost every rejection of the story indicated that the reader felt manipulated and that the unexpected gender of the narrator was a cheap trick. I was really fascinated by that response. I liked the original ending quite a lot  but I murdered my darling and changed the ending and here we are.


There Are Things I Need You To Know - Roxane Gay (c)


Copyright 2009