by Mary Miller
Reggie stays up all night to watch me sleep. I know because I catch him, his eyes glowing in the dark. He watches me because I won’t be around for long. He watches me because I’m the consistency of vapor. At the pool, he’s wearing a baseball cap pulled low over wet eyes, drinking vodka from a Coke can so he can take it up to the architecture building later and get drunk while he works. “Jesus, I love you,” he says, lying on the concrete with his feet in the water. It’s late. I want to go home and go to sleep but I feel obligated to pretend I care because I’ve been sleeping with him, and in his world, girls are supposed to care about the men they let enter them. “It’s good to love Jesus,” I say.
“You’re such a bitch.”
He doesn’t see me wave goodbye. I climb the stairs to my apartment taking two at a time. On the balcony, I look down and he’s still lying there churning the water. I smoke a cigarette, watch him through the bars. Then I go inside and sit on the stiff couch that came with the place. My roommate Annie says, “You know, he was over here earlier. I fixed him a sandwich.” “Don’t fix him any more sandwiches,” I say.
“He was hungry.”
“Everyone’s hungry. We can’t feed them all.”
I go to my room then and shut the door and lock it because my other roommate brings home strange men. The last one read my palm and said I would die soon.
I met Reggie at a party the first week of school. I was there with my roommate Hadley, the one who brings home strange men. She said, “That guy is burning a hole in you,” and it had been a long time since someone burned a hole in me. I went home with him that night. His bed was a mattress on the floor and there were clothes and towels everywhere. His sheets smelled like oranges. I held his penis in my hand like a thick rope of sausage. “I don’t think it will fit anywhere,” I said. “That’s okay,” he said. He didn’t say, “Let’s try.” He didn’t say, “It will,” or explain that the vagina was designed to stretch to accommodate a baby’s head. I woke up around four because I had to use the bathroom and he was propped up on one elbow looking at me with those huge purplish-white love eyes. “You’re an angel,” he said.
“I don’t like that kind of talk.”
“But you are. You should believe it.”
And every night we’ve spent together since has been the same: the nocturnal staring, the angel talk, me peeing and then having trouble going back to sleep because I can feel his eyes struggling to memorize my face before it’s gone.