Drop #3: Accountability

‘You want a cup of tea?’ He leaned into the living room, where she was checking email.

‘I already told you, no!’

‘Sorry, I didn’t hear you.’

In the kitchen, he put one of the mugs back in the cupboard and poured hot water over the teabag in the other, then went to sit next to Jade on the couch. She didn’t look up.

‘D’you hear back from Arthur?’ he asked.

‘What?’

‘Arthur—did you hear back from him?’

‘No.’

‘What about Sandy?’

‘Do you mind?’ She looked up now, all harsh angles, one hand flipped to show palm. ‘I’m trying to read this.’

‘Oh. Sorry. Of course.’ He folded a leg over the other and drank his tea. It burnt his tongue.

‘I was just curious if they were coming or not,’ he said a minute later.

‘Jesus Christ, Larry! What the fuck? Can’t you leave me alone for one minute?’

‘Wow, OK,’ he said calmly. He watched her a second before standing up. ‘I guess I’ll go read in the bedroom.’

‘Fine! You do that.’

Lying on the bed, Larry found it hard to read. In their eight months together, strained exchanges had been rare, and he couldn’t help probing this one for a reason.

He replayed their day: It was Sunday and they’d woken up late. (They didn’t live together, but Jade stayed over most nights.) She was in excellent spirits and proceeded to instigate a most sublime session of morning play. He could honestly say sex was better with Jade than any other woman he had slept with. None of the others had been as uninhibited, or had appeared to enjoy it as much. Realizing this about the woman you are with feels good.

He’d fixed breakfast: fruit and yogurt, scrambled eggs with caviar cream cheese, and she’d loved it, asking for seconds. It was sunny out, so they went for a walk in the park: no plan, just a good old wander. They rested for an hour on a blanket on a lawn, kissing a little now and again. Coming out near the movies, they decided to watch whatever was showing. He’d heard of the one title, and it was starting soon, so it seemed perfect.

The movie, though quite good, had been an an irregular one, mainly because one scene involved a long, violent and graphic rape sequence. It was difficult to watch and some people left the theatre, but they stayed till the end. Afterwards, at Jade’s suggestion, they went to the bar around the corner to drink scotch. They discussed the movie only briefly, and though Jade acted normal enough, she did seem a little quieter. In the cab home, she also became frustrated with the cabbie, slamming the door when she got out.

Back home, after eating leftovers, she’d started checking her email. He thought she might like a cup of tea.

So, obviously, it had been the movie. Jovial all day, her mood had changed thereafter. It was a pity, because things had been great otherwise, but perfectly excusable: that scene had certainly been disturbing, and must surely have been even more so for a woman. Suddenly having to deal with something like that can make one snappy, and he was sad she’d had to.

‘I’m sorry you had to see that scene in the movie,’ Larry said later, after a small nap. He thought her feelings might have dampened by then.

‘The rape scene?’

‘Yes. I noticed it put you in a bad mood earlier.’ Actually, he wasn’t sure it had changed.

‘I’m sorry for getting upset with you.’

‘That’s OK. I knew there had to be a reason. It was a pretty rough scene.’

‘Yes.’

‘I didn’t catch on till later, but I can see it really affected you.’

‘You’re right, Larry, it really got to me.’

‘Quite understandable.’

‘But you don’t really understand how.’ She was perfectly somber.

‘Of course not. How could I, as a man, grasp how a scene like that affects a woman?’

‘That’s not what I mean.’

‘Oh?’

‘That graphic scene was the source of my pissy mood, sure, but not for the reasons you think. It was disturbing, you’re right, but the fact is: it didn’t disturb me. The scene itself didn’t bother me at all.’

‘It didn’t?’

‘That’s why I’m bummed.’

‘Because you didn’t find it disturbing?’ He almost laughed the words.

‘Yeah.’

‘Well that’s OK, babe! Hell. Things hit us in different ways. It was just a movie, after all!’

‘No, you still don’t get it. It wasn’t just that it didn’t bother me, but that I actually liked it—not the fact that she was getting raped, of course—but the rape itself. The act. It turned me on.’

‘Oh.’

‘It was awful, and I knew that, but I was deeply, violently aroused.’ She seemed to shudder with the thought.

‘Well, that can happen. These visceral things can trigger unexpected reactions. There are many stories of POWs becoming aroused by—’

‘I’ve never felt anything like it ever before. Never. Not like that. Not with you or anyone else. It was a thousand—a million times fuller than anything I’ve ever experienced. I have never felt so completely and brutally alive, and it’s devastating to meet such a greedy, offensive, uncompromising part of yourself on a Sunday afternoon. It has been a terrible realization to shoulder.’

‘Of course,’ Larry said, zipping up his fleece. ‘Accountability is a terrible affliction.’

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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