"The Crying" by Katie Quinnelly

That was where he cried, right on that pull-off spot on the backroad where you have to pass through a one-lane tunnel and honk before you go through or else risk head-on collision. That was where he cried and told me I had my hand in my pants, and I'm ashamed now to say that, looking back, because it was a seriously beautiful moment, but that is so like me to sexualize any intimacy. Mama didn't give me much advice, but one thing she did tell me was this: "Boys only want one thing."

 

So there I was with my hand in my pants, instead of asking why he'd been crying, which I would've found out was because god had crawled up in his passenger seat, and worse, peeled open his nostrils and gotten inside his brain like a squirrel, letting him realize that god was neither male nor female, nor squirrel.

 

Yet there I was, dumb me, sitting with my hand in my pants instead of asking, or calling Mama to see how she'd been. I wasn't neglecting her because of anything in particular, such as the incident with the milk cup. I was just concerned with other things at the time. For example, one of my regular customers, I don't remember his name, but he was a good tipper, he had parts of his foot cut off because of Diabetes! This was amazing to me, because that day I'd been thinking it might be nice to get pregnant, but then he reminded me that babies grow up into diseases, and the romanticism in the whole ordeal rotted. I looked down at his shoes and they still looked like shoes for regular-shaped feet. I mean, of course they didn't cut his shoes, but I just thought.... Anyway, I haven't seen him since, but I heard from someone they had to take the whole leg off, PLUS he had a heart attack. I don't know if the Diabetes caused the heart attack. Maybe the leg-off caused the heart attack. Maybe the heart attack caused the leg-off, I don't know.

 

Anyway, back in the car, with my hand down my pants, he started crying again. Well first he started laughing, maniacally, but then he looked at me and started crying, and he took on this different voice, which was really more like several voices all at once, neither male nor female, and he said, "We just want you to come home, Katie."

 

I wanted to kill him, but I have a fear of ghosts, so I fucked him instead, right there in the car at the pull-off spot. When we were finished he tickled my bare armpits, which are my most ticklish spots, so naturally I pinned my arms down. Then his voice, which was many voices, came on again, and his face became contorted like he was struggling with an unimaginable sadness, and he said, "We just want you to be happy, Katie." And I recognized a familiar voice in there, which caused me to soften.

 

Seconds after the softening came a flood of laughter, to which he responded, "Good girl, good girl," in his regular voice, and then the crying for me began — that crying flood which went on for so long that he had to reach in the backseat for a jug of water, because days had passed. He drank first, then sprayed the water into my mouth. This went on for weeks, I think: the tickling, the softening, the crying, the laughing, the spraying.