by Stefanie Hafey
-- bought them for the cheapest she could find, because she had no idea how to buy condoms, had never had to before, and thought about how many she’d need, how many times it would happen, how many times on a given night, and after that how many times, how often (followed by catharsis, since climax was climax but then there was a heavy, dewy arm stretched across her breasts and she was on her back and unable to move but he touched her, as he so infrequently touched her, and she stayed awake for hours feeling that arm and dreading the moment he would slide off and turn away), and then when that box had exhausted itself, each slick full pocket weighted with semen thrown to the floor and left for the morning, would he buy the next, would she? how would it be decided? but when she went to his place and he filled her with wine and his tongue faltered and his laugh grew in pitch and as they talked he slumped on the couch, further and further, until he was practically dripping off it, and finally he announced he would sleep now, took off half his clothes and settled into the shifting couch, actually a futon, she admitted, so it transformed the way he sometimes did, invitingly open sometimes, awkwardly angled and undignified otherwise, and she put her lips on him in various places until he laughed again, groaned with mock resistance and flipped her, pulled his tongue across her skin, did a few half-magical maneuvers until it occurred to him that he had none left, that sex couldn’t happen -- then she said “let me” and lolled off the bed to her purse in which a pair of them had been placed in easy but not obvious reach, and handed one to him, placed the foil packet in his palm, and he hesitated a moment but then had it on and mounted and again finally entered, pushed, looking somewhere over there, and it was quick and it was over and that pendulous wad of latex tied off and flung to the floor, smacking on the wood, and there was no arm; there was instead tugging of the mass of over-worn blankets under him and “fuck it’s cold in here” and facing the other direction he slept -- so morning and she was awake and awake and awake and then he was and was up immediately, prepping the coffee maker with the same brute staccato force of the pull of those blankets, and he was walking into the bathroom, closing the door, the latch clicking over his words “you should probably get going,” and she dressed and lingered and for some reason, seeing that tied rubber on the floor, picked it up and nudged it back into the freshly unearthed torn foil packet and slipped it back into her purse, knowing well this might be the last of these with him and the box might likely reach the back of a medicine cabinet and the condoms inside pass the dates inked on their wrappers -- so in her front yard, the ground a bit cold, the earth speckled with wet masses of fused leaves, the neighbors not yet awake on the cusp of the day, she retrieved the broken wrapper and removed the rubber, now cold, still slick with spermicide, heavy with a teaspoon or so of now mostly translucent semen, scooped back a few fingerfuls of dense cold dirt and planted the damn thing, covered it up and went in and washed her hands and told herself to forget it, but for days thereafter she would pass that spot and think of the penultimate thrust before the orgasm and the ejaculate it produced, one moment his eyes crossed hers and they were both demonstrably there, and if in fact she was correct and there were no more drunk fucks or tied-off condoms or thuds of the arm on her breasts and his fingers very slightly curving and pulling, losing an inch of distance between them, saying “here” and not “there,” and no new boxes after that, so there was near her place a wad of latex encasing his seed and with any luck, if she watched attentively on her walks out of the house she would see a sprout, something grown, and so --
Stefanie Hafey is an MFA student at University of Colorado-Boulder. She finds herself currently ensconced in a torrid love affair with punctuation; at the time of this story's conception, punctuation was locked out on the front porch for coming home reeking of Maker's Mark and trying to sweettalk its way back in.