Pepper

Fiction by Heather Wells Peterson

He likes to kiss her neck, to lick the salt from her skin. She likes to kiss him after, to taste the sharpness of her sweat coating his tongue. He likes to keep his glasses on so that he can see her. He likes to watch her breasts swing in motion with the bed. She keeps her eyes closed because she feels pleasure as something that swarms up within her, not something that comes from the outside. He likes to fuck her from behind. He likes the mirror on the wall because he can watch himself fucking her from behind. When he fucks her from behind, he likes to pull apart her butt cheeks with his thumbs. It is like tearing a peach in half without a knife. She likes it when he grabs her breasts. She likes it when he tastes her on his fingers after they’re done. He sticks each finger in his mouth one at a time and pulls it out with a pop. She likes to cook. He also likes to cook. She likes things that are green combined with things that are red, yellow, and orange, but she doesn’t like green peppers, or red peppers, or orange or yellow peppers. He likes things so spicy it numbs you. He likes eye-watering, nose-running food. He doesn’t have taste buds anymore, not really. He just wants to burn. Sometimes she makes bread. Sometimes the bread is still hot and, after they fuck, they sit cross-legged, naked, and pull pieces off of the hot loaf. They stuff the hot pulls of bread into their mouth. Nothing will ever feel like that again, nothing will ever feel exactly like the first time they ate hot bread on the bed after sex. Sometimes she wears outfits. He likes lingerie. He says he has a lingerie fetish. She says that’s not a fetish, it’s too common. He says it may be common, but technically, it is a fetish. She lets him have it. He seems to need it. He likes crotchless, lacy underwear. He likes red nighties. He likes thigh-high stockings. She has a fur coat that she sometimes wears. He likes to put his back against the wall with her on top, facing away, so that the fur is in constant contact with his skin. She doesn’t have any fetishes, even an obvious one like his. She has tried being tied up, she has tried being spanked. She has tried tying someone else up. She has spanked someone else until he was red. The only thing that really gets her off is getting someone else off. It’s when a man is the most animal, the least himself. She likes it when the groans seem to come from deep within some wild jungle inside of him. She likes to make him lose control. He was always the one who drove the car until he got in an accident. Now she always drives, and he tells her to slow down or watch out. He likes to do the dishes because, he said, she uses too much water when she does them. When she reminded him, later, that he said that, he didn’t remember saying it. Still, he always does the dishes. She does the cleaning, not because he won’t do it, but because he will do a bad job, and then she’ll have to do it again, and if he sees her cleaning where he just cleaned he’ll just get upset. So she tells him she doesn’t mind, she likes cleaning. This is a lie. She hates cleaning. Most of the time she loves him with that tug behind her stomach, the one that feels like a hook pulling her insides up and out her throat. She loves him like a clenched fist, like a popped blister, like feeling sick and sweaty when it’s cold outside. But when she cleans the bathroom, she hates him. She hates him as she scrubs his dirty footprints from the bottom of the tub. She hates him as she wipes away the little whiskers he leaves all over the sink. They look like eyelashes, like their sink is where all of the eyelashes go when people make a wish. She hates him when she bleaches the brown ring in the toilet, when she mops the sticky drips of urine from the tile floor, even when she empties the trash, which is mostly hers because women make much more trash in the bathroom than men do. Sometimes she’s doing something and she looks at him and he’s staring at her and he looks like he loves her. Sometimes she’s doing something and she looks at him and he looks like he’s thinking about fucking her. Sometimes she’s doing something and she looks at him and he looks like he doesn’t even know where he is, and she wonders if he’s thinking about fucking someone else. If they fuck in the morning, she feels different all day, like he loosened all her screws and forgot to tighten them back up. This is a good feeling, but she doesn’t want to fuck in the morning too often because it might ruin it. She is always worried about ruining good things by doing them too much. He likes to fuck in the afternoon, before dinner. He likes to start in the shower. He likes to go down on her while she’s standing under the water, so the water hits the top of his head and runs down his face. Sometimes when she’s walking in another neighborhood she’ll see two strangers and wonder what they’d liked to do to each other. Yesterday, she saw a woman in jogging clothes walking her dog. A man in a suit and sunglasses with curly haired so gelled it looked fake walked past the woman. She imagined the two of them naked together. She wondered if he liked weird stuff, or if she did. She wondered if their weird stuff would overlap. She wondered if one of them was into anal, if one of them was into punishment. She pictured the woman in the jogging suit on all fours facing a mirror as the man with gelled hair fucked her from behind and pulled her butt cheeks apart like he was ripping a peach in half. She wondered if they could love each other. She wondered if they could stand each other. She wondered what they could be capable of doing to each other, if they were just given the chance.

Heather Wells Peterson is a third-year MFA student in Fiction at the University of Florida. She is currently at work on a novel.

Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.

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