Today I am a lonely, sexless book looking for love and understanding. I set up a Tinder profile last night. I’ve never done anything like this before. Does this mean I’ve hit rock bottom? Ha! As if loneliness had a bottom. Loneliness only has more and more depths to sink into; each one a new level of soul-destruction. There is no bottom. There are no rocks. It’s just a black eternity.
Anyway. The profile is there. I only had the one photo. But it’s okay, my cover’s pretty good. I mean, there are some horrible covers out there. Like, bad. Like, never getting any right swipes bad. I feel like mine has that ‘bad boy’ vibe. Anyone want some of this mystery meat? Swipe right, my sweets, swipe right.
I’m not gonna say I’m not confident. I am. Out of the 34 pieces I have inside me, all but maybe four or five of them are solid. I’ve just started to get some Goodreads ratings and so far I’m averaging 4.14 stars out of five. (Some asshole gave me one star three months before the book even came out so I probably should be at 4.33 stars or something.) I know Goodreads isn’t scientific or anything, but still, four and some change stars isn’t chopped liver. Plus, my author’s overall average on Goodreads is 4.20 for all of her books, combined. Not too shabby. She doesn’t suck. Thank GOD! I mean, for all I know, these Goodreads ratings could make or break how many right swipes I get. And that dumb fake name of hers will probably work to my advantage. Give me more of that ‘bad boy allure’. Guess time will tell.
xTx. Yeah, I know. It’s weird. I mean, I know her real name and all. It came through as soon as she started writing me. It’s a name like anyone else’s. Attached to her day to day. It’s the name everyone calls her. I’ve heard them. She answers. It’s legit. It’s boring. It has hardly anything to do with me. It’s the name she doesn’t answer to that made me. That made my brothers and sisters. We were born of what she doesn’t show everyone else. What she can’t. We are those things she does in private. The thoughts she has but would never share. We are the times she jacked off to fantasies of fucking her big cousin. We are her picking her nose and eating it. We are that one time—after many drinks—she pissed through her panties for two middle-aged truck drivers who paid her $100 for her to do so. We are how much she likes the most fucked-up pornos. We are every one of her scars and every one of her perversions made manifest. A carnival freak-show of words people keep paying to read.
And we are proud.
But I am lonely.
I’ve been in a backpack. I’ve been in a brown paper bag. I’ve been hidden under lesser books in a bedside bureau drawer. I’ve been on a hard drive. I’ve been back-and-forthed until I was deemed ready. I’m going backwards now. It doesn’t matter. Where I am now is by myself. And, I’m lonely.
I came from a place of lost in her. She had been so long adrift in a big nothing. I saw it as she started. It looked like a translucent fog, with no distance, no nearness, just an infinity feeling of always was, always will be. When I came into it, I felt it too. A needing to be. A yearning to step out from the fog, become something else. Anything else. It felt desperate. And sad. I immediately wanted to help her. How had she led this life so long…in this? I thought. And together we rode.
Every day she tried to become something else, but she failed. I am a written record of those failings. So is she. I exist so that she can re-live the shame. That’s why she put me into the world; look how I tried but never succeeded. She bares her back for everyone’s whip and braces herself for the beatings. So welcoming. You should see her back. It’s a horror show.
I am lonely because I am a collection of attempts. A gathering of what ifs. Of never-beens. Nobody is looking for these things. I am what everyone looks past to get to the places of positive results. I am the part that is stepped over. Inside me, the surgeon, so hollow in his filthy bathrobe, crying for his mother. Inside me, a summer field, a place for secrets, held together by corn. Inside me, boys who live as lions, buried by their mother’s endless roars. My surgeon, my summer field, my lions; all parts of me wishing they’d been real. I am…we are…an assortment of lonely pieces. How can I ever find love with these guts? I am made up of dregs.
The one way I know I can find love is through the reading. The figments that make me are failures, yes, but they are each one of them beautiful in their attempts—even when they are not. She did not make me to be alone. She made me to be shared. To be taken in and savored. I want this. She wants this. There is hopelessness inside me, but there is also hope. It only takes another to take a chance. To swipe right. To let me in. Spread me open. Stroke my pages. Lick my insides. Taste every different flavor I have to offer. Once you go flat, you never go…. Heh. Sorry. It’s just…I’m so desperate for that connection. Skin on my skin. I want to be fucked as much as I don’t want to be lonely. I want this so bad.
If this Tinder doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try Craigslist. I feel like I can put myself under a lot of different categories on there, expand my chances. I am just a book, but I am also worthy of love. I was built from it. I think I deserve it.
Wish me luck.
xTx is a writer living in Southern California. Her work has been published in places like The Collagist, PANK, Hobart, The Rumpus, The Chicago Review, Smokelong Quarterly and Wigleaf. Normally Special, a collection of stories, is available from Tiny Hardcore Press. Her chapbook, Billie the Bull, is now available from Dzanc Books. Her story collection, Today I Am A Book, is now available from Civil Coping Mechanisms. She says nothing at www.notimetosayit.blogspot.com