The babysitter in our bed. She is smelling your neck, rubbing your nubby freckles along her snub nose and against her cheek. You call them freckles, but she knows they are skin tags, the extra bits of flesh people acquire with the years. Her dad has them too. Still, they are a part of you, like tiny man nipples, and she imagines they are sensitive. Loving them is one more kindness she can bestow on you.
I watch as she opens her mouth just enough to drag her front teeth along your neck. A large nub gets caught in the space between her incisors. She clamps down and tugs lightly. The skin tag comes loose, and it sticks there, wedged in the fetching little gap between her teeth. She pulls back with a squeal.
“What?” you slur, a lazy smile on your lips. You’re half asleep already; she could smother you right now and you’d die satisfied.
She leans back, her young body concave, and works her tongue around in her mouth. She is straddling you in her black panties, which you’d pulled aside because it felt dirty not to take them off. The radiator clanks. Her light hair is lank with sweat. After a long, sweaty moment she spits the skin tag into her palm and without looking at it, rubs her hand against the sheets.
Not so sexy anymore, is it? I say from my chair in the corner. Nobody hears me. On the bed, you begin to snore; little gasps that pop from your lips like soap bubbles.
The window shade is up and behind the headboard I can see the snow coming down over the back yard. Our back yard. It falls like a damp curtain over the tin shed, my dead herb garden, the kids’ playscape. It took us ten days to build that damned thing, cussing and cutting our hands on the metal, but now you’re letting it go to rust.
The babysitter has her hand over her mouth now. She loves you. She has hurt you. How will she bear it? I try not to laugh, though part of me wants to gag, too. These things she’s doing with you, these college-girl romantic maneuverings, I would never do. Did never do. The ways she wants to own you, I have never wanted to own you, or anyone.
As you move into your medium snores—the ones that rumble like a jazz drummer just getting started—the bus brakes screech and the kids disembark on the curb out front. She hears them and climbs off you in a hurry to change in the bathroom.
While she’s busy, I creep across the room and onto the bed. It’s warm there in the sheets, I remember. I find the divots where her knees were and place my own knees over them. I see the pink mark on your neck where she bit you and I lean down to sniff it. Reaching behind me, I fold back the sheet and take that piece of you that rightfully belongs to me.
Kristen Havens’ poetry and fiction has appeared in PANK, Phantom Drift, Concis, The Fourth River, and Slipstream, among others. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.