In a four-part series in which we excerpt pieces from Christy Chilimigras’ debut memoir, Things Even González Can’t Fix, this third excerpt finds Christy navigating the world of rough sex.
A new relationship = new sex, and new sex often means uncharted territory. This is pretty fabulous, in most cases. If you’re dating someone who’s generally on the same page as you, and if they’re not, someone who is at least open to perusing your damn page.
Playing coy and having rough sex shouldn’t feature in the same relationship. You need to be able to be brutally open in order to be absolutely safe. And I know this, you see, but when you’re lost in the whimsy of a love you fear might leave you, wound up in new and exciting sex, and too bewildered to think straight, it’s easy to think with the wrong brain (clitoris?).
In this excerpt from my debut book, Things Even González Can’t Fix, I explore the secrets that accompanied my year-long relationship with a big love and the rough sex we had.
We pick up at a conversation I had with my boss during my internship at COSMO a few years ago.
The Italian – Big love and purveyor of rough sex
Old Lass – My mom
Back at our desks, Kim and I discuss our sex, our hearts, our coleslaw or pasta that we made for dinner the night before.
‘How’s it been going? Are you having sex more regularly now?’ she asks me one day.
‘Yip, we are.’
I hold the truth of the kind of sex I’m having gently in my cupped palms. It scratches at my flesh and I try to give it enough room to breathe. I need to keep it alive and examine it.
It’s rough, and I love it.
It’s reckless. Not in a sexy way.
It is in one moment the most intimate thing I have ever experienced with another person, and in the next, I feel deathly alone.
With every centimetre that keeps The Italian and me apart, our emotional connection retreating, our sex is used to bridge the gaps. Rather than bearing witness from within to a relationship in which the love is surely dying (from The Italian’s end, at least) I revel in the newness and secrecy of how our relationship has evolved. It is fabulously distracting, but none of this occurs to me on the mornings that I streak and level layers of BB cream onto the deep purple of my face.
‘None of this occurs to me on the mornings that I streak and level layers of BB cream onto the deep purple of my face.’
It won’t do.
I buy base.
Then one morning I wake up in my own home, I make coffee, I smoke cigarettes, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I look in the mirror. Scabs litter my face. They arch with the top of my eyebrows where the soft flesh of my forehead has burned. They dot my top lip. I dwell, for only a moment, on memories of the bruised lip that accompanied my childhood before surveying the damage done to the sides of my face. Red and raw in some places, drying up in others, burnt welts courtesy of my attempt to rid myself of unwanted facial hair the night before. I grab the tube of hair-removal cream from the windowsill and read the ‘warnings’ through my chubby tears. I did do the patch test. I’ve been using this cream for years. I did leave it on for just the right amount of time. I did rinse it off rigorously.
I call Old Lass, chubby tears having given birth to sobs. When she arrives four minutes later, she is my treasure and my pharmacy. She shouts at me for having used the cream in the first place. ‘Your facial hair is barely even noticeable!’ she shouts and I wail in return, ‘Oh puh-lease, Mom!’
She tells me to get dressed and come to the pharmacy with her so we can get the advice of someone who knows what the fuck to do, but I refuse. I feel too hideous to leave my house and far too foolish to explain to anyone how this has happened. Old Lass leaves and I message Kim. I consider lying to her, but I know that my face won’t heal for a few days at the very least. ‘Kims, I’ve done something so stupid and I can’t come into work today.’
I tell her the entire, ridiculous story, send her some photos and make her promise she won’t tell anyone.
‘What will you tell The Italian?’
‘I’ll tell him I used a face mask that was too rough on my skin.’
And so that night, at his house, I do.
‘Does it hurt?’ he asks.
I feel my skin pull, tighten, I feel the scabs crack around my mouth when I reply, ‘Ja.’
“‘Does it hurt?’ he asks.'”
Despite the layers of make-up, the war zone is clearly visible, each scab resembling a mountain with its peaks covered in dirty, beige snow.
That night The Italian and I climb into his bed, and we begin having sex. He is on top of me and I can see his twitching palm hovering in the air above me. I turn my face to the side, crumple my chin into my neck; I do whatever I can to make my face off-limits, but I rationalise that I don’t need to spell this out for him.
His open palm collides with my cheek.
I say nothing.
Things Even González Can’t Fix is available at Exclusive Books and online here.
Article illustration by Luci Badenhorst.
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