Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Give to me your Leather, Take from me, my Lace


I am 15.
My boyfriend’s name is Jett.
He is 6’5. I am 5’4. We are lean as only teenagers can be.
He has long, tousled blonde hair, smokes Marlboroughs, and is one of the ‘cool’ kids in school.
In the summers, he is a LifeGuard.
In the afternoons, he works on his light blue 1970 Monte Carlo.
In the future, he wants to be a Rock Star. For now, he sings lead with a band that practices in one of several suburban garages.


We say we love each other and write notes that begin: Dear Zeefie, or Dear Bo. I am Bo, although I don’t know why.
We know we love each other because we are a ‘couple’. Everyone in the whole school knows we are together.
We know we love each other because we write each other’s names on our hands, the thighs of our jeans, our book covers.
We know we love each other because, in the hallways, between class periods, we meet at his locker or mine to make-out.


My hands nestle in the back pockets of his jeans.
His hands nestle in mine.
We mark our territory on one another’s necks with brown love bites.
I feel his long, hard erection straining toward me through the denim.

A feeling I will never be able to clear from the mind of my loins. Not ever.


From 3 o’clock when school get out, ‘til 5 o’clock when his mother comes home from work, we go to his house, take off our clothes, sip Bloody Mary’s, have protected sex and pretend this is what it feels like to be married.


One night, in the summer, we sneak into the pool he is the Life Guard of. He has the key to the gate.
Whispering and giggling, we strip off our clothes, and sink deep into the cool water.
He is tall and sturdy. I am light and petite. He holds me, my legs wrapped tightly around his waist, our lips locked in an unending kiss, as we swirl as one body through the water.
I feel it again, and now, that pulsing, yearning erection. I pull the crotch of my bikini bottoms to the side giving access. He enters me and we become the rocking, the waving, the current.
I am 15.


I sleep too many hours. I miss classes. I am overwhelmed with an exhaustion I have never before experienced in my young life. I miss my period. I tell Jett.


There are no notes in my locker.
There is no Jett waiting for me between classes.
When I walk out to the parking lot toward his Monte Carlo, he quickly flicks his Marlborough to the pavement and tears out.
I wet my pillow with soft sobs all night.
I sleep through classes all day.
I become a Mantra: I can’t believe this is happening to me. I can’t believe Jett would leave me.


I confide in the only person I can, my best friend Sue.
She knows I can’t tell my parents.
My parents love their daughter, their young uncomplicated daughter. The one I was before I got these breasts and hips and became complicated with yearnings and dreams they didn’t know how to listen to or facilitate. I know that. This would not be a complication. This would be taken as a personal assault on them. This would be something ‘bad’ I have done to hurt them.
We know, Sue and I, that they cannot know.
We also know that an abortion costs a lot of money.
We know it has been newly legalized and thus, the closest place to get one is over an hour away.
We did our research.
Together, we call Jett at his job.
I am crying so Sue talks. She tells him if he doesn’t come up with half the money, we’ll tell his mother.
There is a note in my locker.
It doesn’t begin: Dear Bo. There are no words. Just a hundred dollar bill.

Sadness and nervous energy transform the ride out to Rockford into a raucous, teenage party cruise.
Stevie Nicks, it is agreed, is the most appropriate choice for the journey.
Lighting two cigarettes with one flame, I take a deep drag and hand one to Sue.
We flick our ashes out the open windows, as the car veers on to the freeway.
My feet hang out the window, resting on the side-view mirror.
Sue holds her cigarette with her teeth as she adjusts the tape player.
With the car stereo volume turned up all the way, we sing our apprehensions away,
"Give to me your leather, take from me…my lace…"


"Fuck Jett!" I scream into the wind force.
"Yeah! Fuck Jett!" Sue yells, snapping her cigarette butt out the window.
"Oh! I forgot I already did!" And we collapse into globs of angry laughter.


"You want a Reeses?"
"Reeses! Where?!"
"In my purse."
"I love fuckin’ Reeses!" I bellow out my window.
"You just love fucking!" Sue hollers and again we convulse, hitting each other’s arms each time we surface.
We are drunk with fear.


Sue turns the car into the Clinic’s parking lot.

A heavy silence.
Step out. Shake our legs alive. Slam the doors on the car now littered with ashes and candy wrappers.
We are still. Immobile. Quiet inside and out.


The Clinic.
Not what we expected. Just a door among doors in a strip mall. Above the threshold, a small sign that reads: Women’s Health Organization. It could be anything.
I take a deep inhale, close my eyes, try to make the buzzing that had begun in my ears, go away.
Sue’s hand is on my shoulder. I nod. Hand in hand we walk in.


The waiting room is like every waiting room in any Doctor’s office: requisite chairs and a few other women reading magazines as they wait.
Sue sits, her eyes with me as I walk up to the desk and hand the envelope with the crinkled money in it to the Nurse.
I watched as the Nurse counts out my life savings to date, on the counter.
She hands me a cup and points to the bathroom.

As I pee into the cup, I concentrate on memorizing the details of this bathroom.
The white plastic waste can filled with dirty tissues. The poster on the wall of two cute puppy dogs. The Swan’s neck curve of the pipe under the utilitarian sink.
I don’t want to forget any of this. If I am going to live it, I might as well be present. It is part of my journey. For better or worse.


I hand the cup to the Nurse, then sit back down nestling my thigh into Sue’s.
"Well that was easy." I say.
Sue smiles weakly.
"Lane Geller?" the Nurse says into her clipboard.
My heart, As if it were on a roller coaster, swoops from my chest to my feet and remains there, leaden.


Slowly, with feet of bricks, I follow the Nurse into a room, empty but for a gynecologist table, some instruments and a machine with pumps and silver metal tubes. The Nurse hands me a hospital gown, staying in the room as I disrobe and slip myself into the flimsy material. The Nurse helps tie the top back strings. In my gown with the back open, the Nurse scoots my bottom to the edge of the paper-covered table, placing each of my feet, white ankle socks still on, in the stirrups.


Lying on my back now, still holding the Nurse’s hand, I look up at her. I feel my eyes wide with fear.
"Is it going to hurt?"
"It’s minor procedure. It only takes ten minutes. It might pinch a little." She says perfunctorily but not unkindly and leaves her hand in mine.


The door opens behind my head. A man wearing a white coat splotched with bloodstains comes around to the front of the table. He is a thin, gentle-looking man with wire glasses and an empathetic smile. He looks at the chart then at me.
"Lane Geller?" he inquires. "That’s your name?"
I nod. Fear has locked my lips together.
"I have to ask you a few questions before we begin. Alright?"
I nod again from my horizontal position. I have no voice.
"You understand what an abortion is?"
I nod.
"And you have thought about this and discussed it and you are sure this is what you want to do--to terminate this pregnancy?"
Heat; heat rises through my neck, my eyes suddenly spilling tears.
I nod and strain to make eye contact with the doctor whose visage was now blurred.
"Jen," he motions with his eyes to the Nurse, "is called a ‘hand-holder’. She will stay with us, holding your hand throughout the procedure."
I nod.
He touches the skin of my calf softly as he settles himself onto a small stool between my legs.
As he puts the speculum inside, I jump. Hard, cold, intrusive metal, foreign to me.
"Shhh." The Nurse coos, "It’s okay. I want you to relax now. It’ll be over in a few minutes."
"You’re going to feel a little pinch. I’m giving you a shot to dilate your cervix."


The ‘little pinch’ is a scissors stabbing.
Black heat runs up my throat. I hear myself gulping loudly, forcing the black lump back down from my mouth.
A switch is flicked and a noise I hadn’t anticipated vibrates the room. The machine whirs like a drill. The room shakes.

Then it’s inside me.
A screaming nightmare tearing, gnawing, chewing my insides. Engulfed in sensation. I separate from myself. I hear myself groan loudly, crying out to the Nurse,
"Oh my god!"
"Shhh, it’s not too much longer."
But they have just begun.


The machine roars and grinds.
Long, silver knives slashing black pain ripping insides into shreds.
"It’s killing me! I think it’s killing me. No No No! I don’t think I can take it."
I feel myself shaking with sobs. I feel the Nurse run her other hand over my forehead, smoothing away the damp hair.
"Please!" I hear myself cry out. "Please stop. Please! I can’t! I can’t."
"Almost over. Almost over." The Nurse repeats.


Black pain turned to red pain.
Slicing with a hot razorblade, fire and blood.
Rats with sharp teeth and claws, running from pelvis up body, gnawing guts out, paralyzing me.
Paralyzing me.


I see myself on the table. I watch as I squeeze the hand, stare up at her, my head tilted backward, mouth open, eyes frozen wide in terror.
The machine noise slows to a whir and then stops.


Red pain bleached to white, white in eyes, white in ears, white, numbness, blind and deaf.
Longest ten minutes. Long long ten minutes. Long ten minutes.
Bones still rattling. Settling.
Air back in lungs. Body parts re-attaching, finding their way home.
Air, air, breath, breathe.
Face drenched. Dripping streams down face onto neck, rolling to back of neck, on to table.
The white coat walks toward the door, my fresh blood added to the kaleidoscope stain.
Hand on back. Helping me sit. Sitting up on table.
Dizzy, spinning, light-headed, soaked with tears and sweat.
Afraid to look at the catastrophe below.


Lean to one side.
Hold onto the table.
Balance myself weakly with one hand.
Other hand, the 'hand-holding' hand, flops useless on my thigh.


The Nurse puts a thick sanitary napkin into the clean panties I was instructed to bring.
Holds them out to me.
One dead heavy leg up and through the hole.
Then the other, moving through tar.
Leaning on the Nurse, slide gently off the table.
Led into an anteroom with a Lazy-Boy chair in it.


Numb, exhausted, no thoughts can form.


The Nurse lowers my body into the chair, tilting it back.
Puts a cup of fruit juice and a Sara Lee cookie in my palm as she instructs me to drink the juice and eat the cookie, and rest.
She will be back shortly.
Unable to neither eat the cookie nor drink the juice, I let my lids shut out the light and feel the tears stream silently down my cheeks.


The nurse returns, sits next to me, handing me a pastel pink oval.
"Birth control pills", she explains. "They are necessary for you to recover and regulate your body again. No sex for four weeks. Let’s get you dressed."


It’s over.
Sue is waiting. Her faced crinkled in a gesture of pity.
"Maybe we should slash Jett’s tires?" she jokes.
"Not my style." I say, managing a smile for her only.


I am 15.
Life can only get better.


I slip my arm through Sue’s, and limp out into an offensively bright and sunny afternoon.


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