Anne glided the razor along the length of her leg. Her hand grazed the wet, silky line to detect any missed hairs. It felt strange bathing herself in a hotel bathroom, preparing herself for intercourse with Paul, her boyfriend of nine months. In her mind, and perhaps his, every part of her needed to be perfect. Her legs and armpits must be shaved every day. Her cunt must be primed, as well. She’d shave it every day if she could, but she’d usually end up doing more damage than good: knicking herself with the sharp edges of the razor blades if she practiced this ritual more than once a week, blood pooling on the apex of her thighs that she would have to dab gently with a folded tissue until the bleeding stopped.
He liked her to be clean and naked. Nothing turned him on more than a fit, hairless girl with wet hair. She obliged to this kink, if she could even call it that, as she rinsed the soap from her body and wringed the dirty bathwater from her hair. But as she looked at the water, she could see red swirling around her ankle like vapor. Oh no, she thought. I’ve cut myself.
She climbed out of the bath and drained the tub. All the while, blood trickled down her ankle and onto the tile floor, leaving a slick trail of crimson wherever she stepped. She didn’t even realize how bad it was until she bent forward to twist her hair into a towel. As she looked down, streaks of blood stained the immaculate white marble tiles. Quickly, Anne plucked some tissues from the box on the counter and tried to wipe it up, selecting another tissue to press against the large cut on her achilles tendon. She must have been careless when she was hastily shaving her legs, not wanting to keep Paul waiting, for a steady stream of vital fluid seeped out of her skin. She couldn’t get it to stop.
Soon, a knock rapped on the door.
“Are you alright in there?” Paul asked.
“Fine,” Anne called back. “Just cut myself a little bit.”
The door swung open. She hadn’t thought to lock it.
There Paul stood in his briefs, watching her perched on the side of the tub, clinging to her ankle with a pile of crumpled up, bloody tissues at her feet. His face went white. She thought he might faint or vomit, but instead he said, “I’ll be on the bed after you clean yourself up.”
She tossed the used tissues into the garbage bin and, still cupping a tissue to her ankle which still persisted in weeping gore, she hopped clumsily to the bed and laid down beside him completely naked.
He ignored her efforts to stifle the bleeding as he removed his black briefs and threw them on the floor. Then, he reclined on the stiff hotel bed with its starched bleach-white sheets and leaned over to kiss her. She removed the tissue from her ankle and placed it on the bedside table. She kissed Paul back, figuring it was the least she could do after he flew her out to Philadelphia to meet his family. That was, after all, why they were staying in this hotel room. He’d probably propose soon. Then maybe she’d have to consider waxing.
She felt his tongue pushing all the way to the back of her throat. He was forceful that way, and it created a sloppy mess around her mouth.
After a minute or two of tonsil hockey, he traced his hands down her belly and towards her groin. She shuddered as he thrust his fingers inside of her, swirling them around like he was looking for a set of car keys in a messy handbag. She figured then was the time that she should groan, so she did, and she saw the tips of his mouth widen into a smile like he’d done a good deed.
“You like that?” he said in a hoarse, assertive voice.
She did not. But she thought maybe she should. She wasn’t that inexperienced with sex, but she was only twenty, and he was thirty. Sex had always seemed rather performative to her, at this point never having had her own needs taken care of. The focus was on Paul. So, she took a deep breath and sighed with fake pleasure, hoping that the copulation would be complete as soon as possible.
Flustered with the slowed pace of time, she pushed him onto his back and straddled him.
“I want you to fuck me,” she lied.
Paul tried repeatedly to enter her, but her body clamped shut, dry as a desert.
“Let me try something,” she said, and she rolled off to the side of the bed and began touching herself the way she liked while he sat by her side, trying to involve himself in any way he could. She ignored his lips on her nipples and gave him a little shove when his hands tried to take over. It took longer than she would have liked, but soon, her bald flesh was slick and ready for sex with Paul.
He climbed on top of her and began thrusting away, his mouth open wide like a gasping carp as he breathed heavily. She tried to breathe in sync, give an occasional moan as if she wasn’t thinking about what she would order from room service once the act was finished. As if she wasn’t thinking about what she wished she had the guts to do before she embarked on this trip. She didn't think she had ever broken a man’s heart before. It never felt like a good time to start.
Paul reached for her smooth, freshly shaven legs and draped them over his shoulders like a cape. As he kept pumping away, she feigned climax, hoping it would usher him to stop, but he kept going. Nothing was going to separate him from his task. She stared out the window at the falling December snow and wished that it would blanket over her until she settled into a sweet perpetual sleep.
When her mind rejoined her body, she looked up at him. His breathing was growing more rapid and she knew she would soon be free. Then, she could pretend to love Paul in other, smaller ways, like a hand on his shoulder or staring deep into his eyes as he waxed poetic about how much he loved B-list horror movies from the ‘80s. Movies she was too young to have seen. She felt his body tighten and then, he released himself and collapsed on the bed beside her, trying to catch his breath as he wiped a bead of sweat off his brow.
Unknowingly, as if by some reflex, Anne covered her bare breasts with her arms and stared at the amorphous blob in the painting on the wall.
Paul leaned over and kissed her head. “That was amazing,” he said. For whom, she could only assume.
She nodded and kissed him back when he rested his damp lips on hers. He got up from the bed to go clean up the mess on his engorged pecker and she sat upright to check on her ankle.
When she lifted the sheets, she was horrified to see a series of large smeared red stains where her feet had fluttered. Blood was everywhere, and its horror was only amplified by the sheer whiteness of the stiff bleached bedsheets. She wanted to hide it, hide herself, before Paul returned, but it was too late. Paul was standing at the foot of the bed, his eyes glued to the bloodstains on the crisp white sheets. She hung her head and averted his gaze. All she could feel was shame.
Sara Wetmore is an award-winning creative nonfiction author based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She currently studies creative nonfiction at Lindenwood University, where she is earning her MFA. Her work has appeared in The Write Launch, At First Glance: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose, and Adelaide magazine. When she's not writing, you can catch her reading a book, sipping on cider off the west coast of mainland Scotland, or playing with her two cats.