“Faded Blue Sheets” by Wendy Todd

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Vol. 7: Spring Essays 2015

BedHe just didn’t understand. He didn’t know that I was starting to feel like a dog being trained through some type of classical conditioning that you only hear about in psych class: “No one’s home” was code for sex. “Everyone’s sleeping” was code for sex. The words “I want you” were code for sex. And soon enough “I love you” meant have sex with me. The only way he showed love was through “making love.” But what is making love if you can’t speak the language of love? What is making love when you can’t look a girl in her eyes and tell her what you feel about her? What is making love if you refer to sex as “it”—that was all he ever called it.

But like any girl in love, I held on. I hid my insecurities like a teen boy telling his mom to drop him off a block away from school. I made myself believe that this was my destiny. That he was my broken, yet paved, path to true love. After all, love endures all things right? Every time I saw him, I plastered a smile on my face like the smiles you’d see on clowns—ridiculous, yet oddly convincing.

#

“Layne! Tell me you didn’t have this bed since you were five,” I said jokingly. “I think you should—I don’t know—maybe seriously consider getting a bed that fits all 6 feet and 2 inches of your body?? Ha! Let alone one that doesn’t look like it’s about to create a sink-hole right in the middle of it.”

“No way, Jean! All the more reason to be closer to you when we lie together,” he said as he kissed me lightly on my hand and stared right into my eyes.

Wait. Is he indirectly trying to say he wants me right now?

“Ohhh right!” I gasped sarcastically. “Of course! Well in that case, how bout a king-sized bed so that we can be as close as you want, but when we get tired of each other we can at least move to the edge of the bed and our bodies don’t have to touch! I wouldn’t even have to send you to the couch!” I giggled as I kissed him back on his forehead.

“Yeah, yeah. Verrry funny, Jean!”

While he turned back around to laugh hysterically at the latest episode of Duck Dynasty, I lay there envisioning the young man I once fell in love with: chocolate brown hair, light brown almond eyes, and rosy cheeks that could probably make anyone feel flattered while talking to him—Heck! You’d probably think he’s blushing by your way of words—but nope! It was just those rosy cheeks of his. He had broad shoulders, a long torso, and hands that were soft enough to hold yet rough enough to know he was hardworking.

You know what? Maybe things are starting to turn around. Maybe I’m overreacting. He just wants you Jean. He’s attracted to you! That’s a good thing! But it’s not like it’s the only thing he cares about.

“Well! Time to turn this off,” he said as he cut off my train of thought.

“But you were so into your show and it’s not even done yet,” I said.

Here we go. Cue in the classical conditioning mode! Turning off the T.V. in the middle of his favorite show is code for Sex.

I told my mind to shut up and just let him have what he wanted. The questions running through my head were just nonsense. Four years together? Of course he loved me! Of course there’s more to me than just my body! And of course he sees that in me!

But my mind and heart were at battle of who wanted to be heard more. I wrecked my brain as I replayed all the moments of us “making love.” Call me the fairy-tale type, the romanticist, or the cheesy dreamer, but why can’t our brown eyes lock when we make love? Why does it have to be a rush job? Why does every single time we are together have to end up in sex?

#

Hopeful, I got into my car and drove over to his house as I ran through the lines of what I wanted to tell him. There must’ve been a lot to think over because the next thing I knew, I was parked in his driveway.

“Hey love! Come in!” he said. “I was just playing some games upstairs.”

“Oo alrighty, well make some room for me,” I said.

I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest as I watched him play a couple of games on his PS3. How was he going to react? Would he respect my decision?

“Hey Layne, can we talk for a minute?”

“Uh-ohhh, well we all know what that means,” he said with a smirk on his face.

“Well, I think we should refrain from having sex right now,” I said.

Geez. Way to drop the news like a bomb, Jean.

“Wait. Why not, Jean? Where is this coming from? Sooo, you mean absolutely nothing then? We can’t do any of it anymore?? Like you can’t touch me here and I can’t touch you there?”

I looked up at the ceiling praying to God that my tears could grow a pair of muscles and hang onto those eyelids of mine.

“No Layne, we can’t. Sex shouldn’t be the foundation of our relationship. Let’s just find other ways to love each other.”

Crap. So much for tears with muscles.

“OK. Whatever. We’ve been doing this for the past couple years and now you want to stop?? Alright,” he sighed as he rolled his eyes.

I shuffled uncomfortably while I tried to make sense of his anger,

“It’s just—it’s just that I feel like this is all we’re doing…And—and if we stop…then…maybe we can—ye’know…find other ways to love each other? You know what I mean right? Show affection outside of these closed doors for once?”

“Yeah okay,” he said.

Wait. That’s it? That’s all he has to say?

He’s mad, but of course he’s mad. I just took away the one thing he likes to do with me! But realizing that he was more upset than understanding played with my heart strings a bit more than I anticipated. So I cried. But oddly enough, he brought my chin to his face and kissed me on my salty lips and said,

“I still love you. If that’s what you want, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Ease rushed over my body as I realized that maybe this could really work. I kissed him back and expressed my gratitude for his willingness. He grinned as he took my hand and slid it down his body to his private area and said, “But how ‘bout just one more time though?”

I felt my face turn flush as my jaw dropped in a pool full of confusion. What is his problem? Either he’s trying to make light of this situation or he’s already testing his boundaries. Red flag Jean. Red flag.

#

As I took the 23-minute drive back home, I found my heart reasoning with my mind again. I found myself sorting out my unspoken feelings as I reflected upon what love was between Layne and me. And ultimately, I quickly realized that the only witnesses of Layne’s love for me were the faded blue sheets on his bed, his 32 inch flat screen TV, four deep blue walls, and the plaid-patterned tissue box sitting at the right-hand corner of his night stand. This time, my mind won. I tucked away my vulnerabilities and continued putting on my ridiculous clown mask for the next week.

#

We walked over to our next class only to find out that our professor had canceled our class at the last minute.

“Well, what is there to do now?” I said as I took his hand.

“Let’s go back home. No one’s there,” Layne said as he grabbed my backpack and tossed it over his shoulder to hold for me while we headed back towards his truck.

Don’t go Jean.

“Yeah, okay! Should we get something to eat?” I said.

Idiot.

“No. Let’s save money,” Layne said. “I got a couple things I can make you at home.”

“Alrighty!” I replied. “Let’s go then.”

#

He led me through the door and instantly kissed me on my right shoulder, then on my neck, and ever so lightly on my lips.

“Uhh…Hey, what were you gonna make? I’m actually super hungry,” I said as I directed our bodies towards the kitchen.

No you’re not Jean.

My stomach could’ve probably regurgitated anything I put in my mouth because I knew exactly what was about to happen: No one is home.

“How ‘bout we go upstairs first?”

Wait. What is he trying to pull? Didn’t we just talk about this?

Heart pounding. He took me by my waist and led me up the stairs in front of him—I felt my face turn bright red as I searched my head for answers. I found nothing. He pushed me down to the bed, kissed me more, and proceeded to ask, “So can we do this?”

I lay there in shock with my denim shorts unbuttoned around just one leg. It was evident that he went through the motions of trying to be a modern day chivalrous gentlemen—asking if it were okay to make oh so sweet love to me. Jerk. I stared at him thinking I could somehow find the guy I once knew.

I lay there lifeless scanning the room to find something to stare at while he went about satisfying himself. He was so focused on getting the job done that he didn’t care to notice the tears streaming down my face. Everything in his room that once had so much meaning somehow started to match his faded blue sheets. I noticed the picture frame and note I gave him a few months back collecting dust under his TV stand next to the set of video games that he no longer plays. That picture was my favorite—we stood beside a cocktail table that was dressed in white linen with our arms locked while the fiery sunset gave our skin an orange glow. I wore one of those little black dresses that complimented my curves and hugged my waist. My long black hair was tied back and swept to the side, but he was so handsome: a long sleeve, grey button down with a black and silver tie to add to the finishing touch. I snapped back to reality to notice his body still shifting in and out of me.

I still thought that I could somehow bring back that moment from the picture. I was determined to keep my eyes fixated on it, but there was no use in that because somehow everything in that picture seemed so constrained by the borders of the bold, black, pointed-edged frame. What happened to him? Here we are, flesh to flesh, and yet I can’t find anything admirable about his long torso or his broad shoulders, and his eyes aren’t the same brown anymore—more like the color of darkened deceit. His cheeks blended with the rest of his face, and his hands…his hands were busy working hard to make love to me that I never wanted.

After he was done pleasuring himself, he gathered his clothes and left the room as I lay there still and naked. The sound of water running from the bathroom cued me in to single-handedly dress myself. He looked refreshed as he re-entered the room and hopped back on the bed only to turn on the T.V. to ESPN.

“You okay?” he asked.

I couldn’t believe he actually had the balls to ask me that.

“Yeah…fine…” I replied. Then as if it were written in the rulebook to say to your girlfriend when you know something’s wrong, he said, “Oh, sorry. I love you.”

I love you? Oh please. I love you means, “Hey, have sex with me Jean. I want you so badly.”

“I want to go home,” I said as I stared off into the ceiling.

“Why are you mad??” He asked.

I was fed up. This wasn’t love.

#

I got home, dropped the backpack that he bought me for school to the floor, walked into the bathroom and took off my clothes one by one. I was so tired of undressing. I stared at the same denim shorts lying on my bathroom floor and instantly had a flashback of him taking it off for the sole purposes of having sex with me. I stared at my white t-shirt wondering if he could even recall what kind of shirt I was wearing if someone had asked him. I stared at my glossy brown eyes in the mirror that looked back at me and was curious as to whether or not he noticed that I curled my eyelashes and put on an extra coat of mascara today. I wondered if he took the time to notice how I braided my bangs back today. I wondered if he was staring at himself in the mirror realizing that he had pushed his girlfriend too far.

I turned the radio on and turned the volume up in hopes that I’d find a song worth listening to. As if I were in a trance, I slowly washed my body while I thought about what happened between him and me. Where do I go from here? Did I give off the signal that I wanted it? Was it rape? Why do I keep letting him manipulate me? Suddenly the music stopped and a commercial came on.

“Yeah man, I took my girlfriend to this sweet spot last night!” one guy said.

“Nice! And what did you guys do?” the other guy said.

“Well, the usual… she said no, but I knew she wanted it,” the guy replied.

It was clear it was one of those rape-victim commercials.

“No means no. Rape is rape…even if it’s your boyfriend.”

Jean? You told him you didn’t want it and yet he manipulated you into thinking that you did—that’s rape. So as my body soaked up the soapsuds, I soaked in that same thought. I then realized that we were two people whose visions of love got caught up in what we seen love as. While I was busy pursuing his heart, his strongest desire was to pursue my body.

Written for Dr. David N. Odhiambo’s ENG 313: Creative Writing

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