Issue #90 Guest Editor Helena Kvarnström is a Swedish photographer and writer living in Toronto whose work previously appeared in Storychord Issue #1. She has exhibited internationally, and her novella, Violence, was published by Lazyline in 2005. She is currently working on a novel. For more, visit Helena's web site at inne.day-lab.com.
YOUR FACE IS MY FAVOURITE FACE
by Colleen Diamond
When we first started dating, I used to say it all the time. I would say, “I love your dick,” or just: "Your dick!" I would say it in bed, or in the hallway on the way to the fridge. It was one of the only things that I said. I was so quiet. Not shy—quiet. I said it sentimentally. I said it like it was something deep. Like that was the reason why we were together. Like that was the reason I loved you. It was the first dick I loved. But I also loved everything about you. How clean you were. How organized. How sweet. Your laugh. How hard you worked at all your jobs. Spreadsheets and music. Spreadsheets and film. Spreadsheets and money. Spreadsheets and everything. What you looked like when you were tired. Laying on the couch. Face in the cushions. Mouth half open. How much you liked to plan things for us to do. What other people meant to you. Every part of your body. The black curly hairs on your legs. Your butt. Your feet. How you farted at the same time every day. How you thought I was making fun of you because I laughed when you did it. 8:30 in the morning.
Issue #90 soundtrack: Bruce Peninsula "The Leaves"
The first time we spoke to each other, you were working. I walked up and I put my hand on your face. I’d seen you three times. But it felt like I knew you. That face. Tan and hairy. Italian. But Arab Italian, you know?
I remember our first date. I left early the night we met. So you asked my friend for my name. You sent me a message on Facebook. You said, “Do you want to step out with me?”
I said yes. I was late. I took a cab. I wore a black dress with white wool tights and brown boots. I wore my hair up. I walked to the table where you were sitting and we smiled at each other. You were reading about baseball. You said, “Hi.” I said, “I feel like I know you.” You smiled. You laughed. We drank wine. The music was terrible. I was nervous, but not the same nervous that I am now. You told me that your Mom believes in God and that she sent you the name of a book where you could read about him. I was already in love.
We didn’t sleep together for 4 months, maybe more. The first time was…I don’t even know. I just lay there. I held my breath the whole time. The second time was better. We moved together. The third time we found it. And after that, if I was naked, your dick was hard. “Pheromones,” you said. “Your dick,” I said.
We ate hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches. You picked me up in your car. We watched movies and fucked in your office. We never fought.
It was perfect. Until it wasn’t.
There was always this thing. This thing I didn’t know what it was. This thing that I wanted.
I would open my mouth to ask you for something, but only sobs or screams would come out—like when a little kid is hungry and they wave their hands around. Shouting nonsense and making little fists. Like the grown up is supposed to know what they need, like you were supposed to know what I was asking for. I'd scream like that when I was little. Stomp my feet. My Mom would say, “What is it, sweetheart? What?” But I didn’t know the words. “Maybe you’re tired,” she would say. “Maybe you should go lie down.”
So I laid down. I cried at you: “Will you lie in bed with me?” And you did. But it wasn’t it.
So I’d tell you I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d make you leave. I’d sit on the floor. Watch your text messages come in. Hold my phone. Hold my phone. Stare at it.
My friends would call and I wouldn't answer. They'd email and I'd write back: "I'm busy." I'd think, "I'm busy forever! Fuck you!" I'm busy forever sitting on my floor hating all of you.
I had a dream about us. You called me. You invited me out to a bar. I wore a black dress. The place was owned by Wes and Leon. David Patrick Leonard was sitting at the end of the bar in a white t-shirt. He was sitting with an anonymous rock star. I touched his arm and he looked at me with wide eyes.
You led me through a doorway. It could have been to a set of stairs, or to the bathroom. It was to the backyard.
It was so beautiful out. The sky was light enough that we could see each other. But dark enough that we could see the stars. The yard was lined with rose bushes the size of trees. Rose trees. The blossoms were a deep pink. They glowed in the night light. They went on forever. Further back than you are imagining right now. The yard was grass. We walked for a while. Then walked back.
I asked if you had been on a date earlier tonight. You said yes. I asked if it had been a double date with David. You said yes.
“She is a marketing manager,” you said. “For Kraft. Kraft Cheese.”
I asked if she’d met all of you, or just half. You said half. I nodded. We breathed in the night. We looked at each other. You led me back inside. We walked upstairs.
We passed Wes on our way. He was coming out of the bathroom wearing a too small Blue Jays t-shirt. We went into a room, we sat down on the bed. I could see your red jacket now. Your grey pants.
You asked if I was interested in dating anyone. I said no. I said I couldn’t handle the responsibility. I couldn’t make out the response your eyes gave me, so I asked, “Are you—interested in dating anyone?” You said yes. You lay back. I said, “Let me be clear. I am interested in being with you.”
You sat up. Red jacket. Face. You said, “But you have to know that I am looking for The One.”
I nodded. I said, “You have to know that I didn’t know what love was before. I thought love was going out for dinner and asking your partner to do things for you. Take out the garbage. Lift heavy things.”
You leaned back. You were so suddenly you and Beyoncé all at the same time. Beyoncé said to me, “How do I know that you are ready?”
I said, “I’m not ready. I’m getting ready.”
You were holding a black baby. Bouncing her in your lap as you sat with one leg crossed and one leg on the floor.
Your manager came in. She said that the people were waiting. They’d been waiting 15 minutes to come in and watch the video tutorial. We looked through the door out into the office and saw kids waiting. Caps on. You said it would only take a minute to cue up the video. It shouldn’t be long.
You handed me the baby. And I knew what to do.
The dream was over.
I still had your gold watch. I looked at it. I wondered where you were. I refreshed Facebook. There were all these photos of me wearing pink and red lingerie. Laying in a bed. My vagina half showing. Laying next to Alex holding roses over my forehead.
I felt such shame. I felt panic.
I’d stare in the mirror. I’d pick at the skin on my feet. I’d go for a walk. I’d text you or not text you. Call you. Take a cab to your house. Bang on your door. Bang on your window. Stand in front of you. Tired.
I said, “I get wet whenever I’m near you.” I said, “I want to be in bed with you." I said, "Let’s fuck.”
I said it because I know that you liked that. Talking like that. Hearing me talk like that. I said it because I knew you’d say yes.
So we’d fuck. And it would be good, or it would be not good. It didn't matter because it was over. We were over.
I wished I had said, “Can you open up to me?” I wished I had said, "Cry with me." I wished I had said, “My body is dead so I can’t really feel you.” I wished I had said, “Bring me back.”
You said, “My heart isn’t in it anymore.”
And I knew. That was the thing. You. Your heart. It was never fucking there. I was always alone with pieces of you. The whole time. Gold watches and screaming babies. Beyoncé.
Colleen Diamond was born in a small town and raised in a rural forest. She currently lives and works in Toronto. Her writing has been described as honest and hysterical (not the funny one). She writes what comes to mind, mostly about human relationships. She is interested in body sensations and mind images. She likes short works that span long periods of time. She is a student of Psychotherapy. Visit the author online at colleendiamond.com.
Emily-Jane Robinson is a London-based cinematographer, filmmaker and photographer. She was born in 1986 in Birmingham, England, and raised in the beach-side suburb of Leucadia in Southern California by her single mother, a watercolourist and landscape designer. She received her BA in Design & Media Arts in 2009 from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a minor in Women's Studies, and in 2010 she returned to the UK and began her MFA at UCL's Slade School of Fine Art. After finishing her MFA in June 2012, she integrated her research and fine art work into more commercial contexts and began shooting and directing music videos, commercials and most recently two feature films. Emily-Jane has exhibited internationally, and her film and photographic work has been featured in Vice, Vogue Italia, Beautiful Decay, Creative Review, Zooey Magazine, Art Wednesday, and Storychord Issue #29. For more, visit the artist online at emmyland.com.
Bruce Peninsula is a rolling soul revue that originally formed in 2006. The band’s constant core is made up of Misha Bower, Matthew Cully, Neil Haverty, Andrew Barker and Steve McKay, but swells to include many of Toronto’s local luminaries in live performance and on record. In 2009, Bruce Peninsula’s self-released debut full-length, A Mountain Is A Mouth, was nominated to the Polaris Music Prize long-list. In 2010, they provided the soundtrack to Small Town Murder Songs, a feature film by Ed Gass Donnelly that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010. Bruce Peninsula entered a lengthy hiatus due to illness in 2011, but unveiled a b-side series called The Bruce Trail Fire Sale that ran throughout the year, comprised of one-off videos and performances offered for free online. In October, Bruce Peninsula returned with their sophomore LP, Open Flames (Hand Drawn Dracula). For more, visit bruce-peninsula.com.