FICTION August 26, 2011

Fuck Raymond Carver


On Tuesdays I didn't teach, so I hung out at our apartment all day. Since Rachel had to go to work at nine, I'd get up and make coffee and make it look like I was going to write.

"You can't let yourself get down about PBQ," she'd said after we received the letter. "You've got to keep writing. On days that you're not teaching, you should write."

"You're right," I'd said, and I'd meant it. But in the six months since we received that letter, I hadn't written a word. Sure I would get up with Rachel every Tuesday and Thursday. I would make coffee and turn my computer on and open the word processor. I'd throw on pajama pants and a shirt and sometimes I would actually think about what I would write if I were to write. By the time she left for work, I'd be sitting at the desk.

"Good luck," she'd say, smiling. There was no doubt in my mind that she spent her walk to the subway daydreaming of a successful writer husband.

"Thanks," I'd say smiling back. Five minutes later I'd be back in bed asleep. I used to set an alarm for 11:45am just so I could be awake and coherent when she'd call at lunch to see how it was going.

This is how it went for months. I'd sit around our 450 square foot apartment and think of shit to do that wasn't writing. I'd do the dishes and clean the bathroom and even crazy stuff like dusting the spines of books on the shelf. When Rachel would get home around six, I would be attention starved. I'd run my mouth about everything that had happened on TV that day. On this particular Tuesday, Rachel surprised me by coming home early after lunch.

I had my dish gloves on and I was scrubbing the grime out of the hardwood floors. I was happy to see her. She came over and I stood up off the floor and we hugged without saying anything, holding each other for a minute. Like we did when we were both ready to move on after a fight.

"Want to take a nap with me?" she said, and I knew it meant sex.

I had the feeling that I should be aggressive and passionate like Gary had said, but I didn't know if I could manage. When we got in the bedroom I tried to growl at her and she laughed. It sounded like something a terrier would do if he wanted to be let outside.

"What are you doing?"

"About what?" I said, doing my best to act confused.

She stripped her jeans off. She was wearing black panties with lace and I went hard instantly. I desperately wanted to fuck her. More than anything, I wanted her to come like you see women come in good porn. I wanted her to come like professional adult film stars pretended to come. I wanted her to quietly confess on a girl's night a few weeks later that she blushes every time she thinks about the way she came that day with me. I wanted those friends to go home and fantasize about what I must have done to my wife to scramble her brain so badly.

Instead, I put my larger-than-average-but-not-nearly-so-big-that-I-belong-in-fetish-films dick in my wife for a minute and a half. I came loudly and like we'd been going for hours. When I rolled off of her, I noticed that I was the only one breathing hard. I knew I'd fucked up before either of us opened our mouths. The cold silence killed me but I kept my goddamned mouth shut. If I closed my eyes and pretended that she'd had as good of a time as I did, I might be able to live with myself. I was able to turn off the worry switch, and I drifted off to sleep.