Tonight's The Night I Kill My Boyfriend
And other thoughts he'll soon come to know.
I think I should kill my boyfriend.
But I shouldn’t say that.
Or at least, I shouldn’t put it in writing.
It’s hard though, because right now, I’m lying in bed, next to him, and I’d like him not to be here anymore.
His name is Jack. Actually, it’s not. But, he subscribes to this newsletter, and our state of Florida is one of the only states in which defamation of character is still a crime, so for the sake of this piece, Jack he shall remain.
Though Jack and I have only been dating for a few weeks, I’ve already begun to think things — things he shouldn’t know.
“Hide the skeletons in the back of your closet,” my mother says, “at least until your lover is too invested to leave. Trapped.”
But I’m no good at that. He can read this if he wants.
A few hours ago, I was cleaning up the apartment. I had just bought new sheets and made the bed.
I love making the bed. How special the feeling — the one you get as you tighten the last edge of the duvet — calm, derived from accomplishment and order.
But it’s better than that. Better than finding the missing sock or drying the last dish. Because making your bed tricks your mind into believing that the next night you lie in your bed, will be the most rejuvenating night you’ve ever had.
The night that frees you from the tension in your back and the stress surrounding all the things you haven’t done. As if, since you were sixteen years old, the one thing that has prevented you from feeling like a stable and centered version of yourself has always just been one session, of a full eight hours, swaddled in fresh linen.
It was 930 pm when Jack opened the front door.
He came home as soon as he could.
When I say “came home” I mean that Jack came to my home, which is different from his home. And he brought his dog with him because I guess his dog can’t stay alone for a night, which is inconvenient and needy of them both.
Perhaps I’ll kill the dog too.
Jack walked in and went to give me a hug.
The dog had a bit of dirt on its paws and mud on its tail. But that’s always the case because,
“I haven’t given him a bath in over a year,” Jack said, the other day, proud. “He’s never dirty, or at least, I haven’t noticed,” Jack said.
Notice it, Jack.
As you read these words and you look up from your phone at the dog whose coat I believe should be two shades lighter than how it presents. Observe. Care. Notice.
Jack put down the leash and looked up at me.
“How was your day?” he asked.
“Fine,” I said back.
He gave me a kiss and as he did so I got a whiff of his ‘I just got home from work’ smell.
You know the smell. Where it’s not BO but it’s not not BO. That specific stench of sweat and oil and musk that cakes the body after it spends a long day indoors, slaving away for capitalism.
But Jack’s smell is worse than mine and probably yours too because he spends his days inside a hospital with the sick. So, when Jack comes home wearing his scrubs, he also brings in with him a powdery stench of latex, paired with what I imagine to be dried up layers of the dying’s last breath.
“I’m exhausted,” Jack says. “Sorry for coming over so late.” He places my hand in his.
And it was late.
Far too late to watch a movie or contemplate the meaning of life or even cuddle on the couch where he'd probably want to do so without having changed out of his dirty scrubs. He’d pull us both over to the sofa and then he’d rest his cheek on my chest and say “babe, will you scratch my head?”
And though I wouldn’t want to, I’d do it anyway, but all the while would be thinking about Jack’s patients and their diseased skin cells that flew through the air to stow away on his head. Tiny unnoticeable-to-the-untrained-eye flakes of dermatitis or cystic acne or leprosy that would now be falling, ever so gracefully, onto my lap.
“Yeah. It’s late for you,” I said. “Maybe just go shower and then we can go to bed.”
I figured that even if we didn’t have time to relax, we might still be able to hook up.
I assumed that’s why he came over.
“Yeah. You’re right,” he said. “Again, sorry for coming over so late. I just like waking up next to you,” he said, with words that were genuine and vulnerable and honest and sweet.
And how much I would have loved hearing him say all that if this were a casting call for a Hallmark movie.
This was real life, and the things I find sweet are waking up after a full night’s rest in my newly dressed bed, and the things I don’t find sweet are the sound of Jack’s mild apnea with his tongue that seems to suffocate his throat, or the scratching footsteps of his needy dog who likes watching us have sex, or being woken up by Jack’s 530 am alarm so Jack can be on time to the 615 am emergency room trauma residency rotation, which is part of the career that he chose, which makes our early-to-bed-early-to-rise schedule feel like his, and not my, cross to bear.
“No worries. I like waking up next to you too,” I said, because that’s what you’re supposed to say when you want to have sex.
Jack smiled, his eyes beaming a bit, and then the dog licked my hand, which caused Jack to say, “Aw. He missed you.”
But that wasn’t true.
What was true was that an hour before, I had eaten two Tate’s Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, for a second, I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be giving chocolate to the dog. But then I realized that maybe I was wrong. And that maybe I should.
Jack’s eyes drifted to the microwave, where he noticed the time.
“Wow, yeah. I’m going to get to bed,” he said. And then he kissed me on the cheek and walked to the bedroom, his scent close behind.
“Oh. Don’t forget to shower!” I said, “The hospital is gross.” I chuckled a tiny bit, wanting to seem relaxed, chill, etc.
He kept walking, and without turning around he said, “Thanks, but I’m too tired. I’ll shower in the morning.” And then he turned off the light and took off his clothes.
I stood there, for a few moments, confused. As I stared across the living room into the dark bedroom, I could make out his silhouette.
Jack, using his hands that, hours before, had probably been inside of someone with some kind of something, reached for the white duvet and pulled down the sheets. He began to lean over the bed, and knee by knee, he crawled in, naked, while I, from a distance, remained frozen, paralyzed, as if in a nightmare.
A few movements later, the silhouette stopped moving. Jack was lying in bed, his crusty head on the pillow.
I walked to the bathroom, alone and numb. I showered, brushed my teeth, poured myself a glass of water, and stepped toward the bed.
And now, I’m lying here next to him.
I can hear the sound of his dog, panting across the room, while Jack lays soundly asleep as his tongue flaps against the back of his throat, mocking me.
And while I lay here wondering what I did to end up with a sexless relationship in a dirtied bed where it now smells as if the dying themselves have come to rest, I grieve that tonight is not the night for my aspirational eight hours in my freshly made bed, because tonight is the night that I will kill my boyfriend.
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