Unhealthy Liaisons

excerpts Let me tell you about Sergiu:What for?He had been in love, like any other 18-year old young man, with an older woman. Using all her charms, she easily seduced him, turned him into a man, then she accepted to move in together for a week, act happy, and finally left him. She returned to her pink home, without any explanation and refused to answer any of his calls. He cornered her in the streets, threatened her about him talking to her husband, twisted her wrist a bit and she forced a tear into her eyes, well, I say stuff, you know, 'cause I wasn't paying so much attention to the story. Anyway, it took Sergiu one year to understand that he had no access key to her schematic mind. That's what he said, excusing himself for his inexact words.How?"We were four guys and one girl in our group. We all had brilliantly passed the entrance exam for college and we were scum that didn't know the ways of the world. Well, we drank our lives away, first to show off, then for fun, and in the end to quench our thirst, we injected tons of alcohol in our veins and irritated our eyes with cigarette smoke. One guy was really special. I'm telling you he didn't give a damn about details. He could stay silent for hours on end, drink his brains out, and yet he would be sober. I didn't even notice him during the freshman year, but I kind of heard some rumors about him being desired by the few girls in our class who chased him anywhere he went. We were wondering whom he was spending the rest of the time with, what he was doing when he wasn't with us, but you understand, we had no guts to throw this into his face. One day we decided to shadow him after he had left the university pub. He was likely to go home. He had deep eye bags and was too sad that morning to think he had spent the night sleeping. We got really drunk that night again, and by the last drops in our bottles, I was the only one eager to carry out the spying plan. All my friends left home and I took his trail. What can I say? Maybe if you'd seen him that night you'd have understood why I chose to be his tail and not go straight to him and tell him to come with me and fuck some bimbos. I walked for an hour, in the tight streets of Schitu Magureanu. I didn't realize we were going in circles, until he yelled at me he wanted to go in some building and that he would wait for me upstairs, leaving the door unlocked for me. While Sergiu was talking I was blowing Wrigley's bubblegum balloons; cut the crap, you bore me with your stories; I have my own stories but I don't bore my friends with them, I just tell them to myself at night time. I lost my temper for a couple of minutes, but I was cool. We stepped into a tiny elevator, like a matchbox, and I let out a "no shit" to show him I was listening to him and finally we arrived at the top, the 5th floor and the door was open indeed. I was dead scared, but I entered his house after painful hesitation, which he must have felt like a draft blowing into the two rooms of his apartment. He sat on a small sofa, leaning on one elbow. He started drinking again and I saw him smoke for the first time. I had no idea he smoked. He invited me to sit next to him, petting the cushions of the sofa. We were crowded on that tiny sofa and I bet we looked like two soldiers on a roll call. That's why he lured me into this dark room and started pouring his secrets down on me, which ended up by devouring me. Are you with me?"I let out a grumpy, weak "yeah" but he didn't care anymore. He really wanted to teach me a lesson about life, in every stupid way these things are called, and he couldn't pick a better moment than this since I was thinking about Alex again. "I promised myself to stay there no more than half an hour. It was getting late and the way back home made me sick. He offered me a cigarette and we lay back, sipping from the glasses that we emptied and refilled for several times in only a few minutes. Then he started talking but I was way too tired to follow him. His voice was in my ears, hoarse with tobacco and booze, I could see his profile, the tip of his lips moving up and down like two individual pieces as they taught us in grammar school about I don't give a shit what, see his eyeballs, his stretched skin on the nose and the short, spiky hairs of his beard. Well, what do you know? When he turned his face to me and pointed me with his eyes, I thought I saw my foolish kid sister when she was a child, her legs knitted under her, crying over some shit in the middle of the bed. She was begging me for love and affection, breaking my heart with her soft look, what the hell happened? All I remember is that we trickled on the carpet. Our eyes watching the ceiling, I reached his hand and stroke the inside of his palm. He took only one turn to come next to me. I put my face on his palm, I pretended to be a little dizzier than I was and he curled on me, kissed me with his thick lips on my mouth and stuck his tongue into my mouth. Maybe you think this made me sick. Hell, no. Because I was drunk or because of something else, I introduced myself between his large teeth, I suddenly turned into a bottomless dental decay; I fell into an infinite crater, while happy food leftovers waved at me from other precipices. His voice sounded like a broken trumpet into my stomach, and the moments when he cleared his throat, shaking my heart and liver (just a bean) while my kidneys sounded like two tambourines. Then he started touching me under my t-shirt, stuck his head underneath and licked me like a professional all over my chest, along my ribs down to my belly button, I felt him rubbing his blue jeans against mine as if he wanted to fuck with our clothes on. I think we looked a bit silly. Well, he had experience, while I was like a waken bear with a gun at my head."Aaaand?"We started dating. We were buddies and our only girl in the group, one cool girl, started to smell us and found all sort of excuses when we invited her to our drinking parties. She joked about her ruining our friendship and the others too. But her eyes were dead serious. We found that funny, but the truth is that we felt threatened. We didn't want to come out clear.""Did they find out in the end or what?""Sure, man."I'd had it with him. All love stories were the same to me. There was nothing interesting in telling them to people, all their charm (the charm of their memories, I mean) was somewhere in your stomach, like a gap of air. Otherwise, talk, talk, talk… I'm terribly young and right at this moment I strongly believe I could never change the way I am – yes, never…Although closed, the door had a French window, which betrayed way too easily the moves and sounds behind it. Alex and Sergiu behaved like total strangers for months, crawling like crippled bugs in my parents' house. Sergiu gave up talking to me. I saw him only in the mornings, when we came across one another in the kitchen. He'd leave, God knows where, and we, the girls, would remain alone in the house, chatting as if nothing had happened over night. Actually, we learnt how to have sex again, how to kiss in the light without stimulating our bodies with toxic craps, how to stand each other in the same room after intercourse and still be happy. We had given up school long before, we had almost forgotten the taste of memorized words repeated by heart, so far did we see that grey building on top of which we were to do acrobatic numbers, and its cold classrooms where I had wasted so much time watching her from the tail of my eye when she was concentrated on her pen, on leaving dark blue trails and pasty lumps on paper. We'd go out sometimes to buy food and bread to keep us alive. There were days when we didn't leave our bed, fearing we might lose our connection with this warm lair that held us together. We'd sprawl in our pillows for hours, mouth to mouth, breath in, breath out, stealing each other's air. We were totally tired, we barely talked, but I'd feel her feeble hand slinking between my legs, making way with her fingers into my pussy, petting me shyly, and warming her fingers. There was nothing arousing in her gesture; I'd see it more as a sigh, as normal as any other basic need of the body. I stood still, my legs opened in a sharp angle, and I measured the rhythm of her breath until we fell asleep in that stale sex atmosphere. We were barely awake when we stared to toss in our bed, our hands ran over our bodies, our lips went down on our breasts and belly button, down the abs, sliding to the moving sands at the base of the slide. In a nutshell, when I was a kid, I looked from the top of the slide to the base where a small hole had been formed in sand and pebbles and I felt my heart shrink when I was sliding down, fearing I, a bundle of meat and bones, might never be able to stop and I'd be swallowed by the huge mouth of the giant butterfly. These were our days and this is how they went away. Sergiu wanted to leave at some point. What could have I said to make him change his mind? And I meant it when I said I wanted Sergiu to stay with us. I was not very happy with the fact that I was supposed to live only with Alex. We wanted Sergiu there even if only to save face in some moments I proclaimed out loud I didn't give a shit about. Of course that was not true and I couldn't be so open and relaxed as he was. He left me a letter in a place where I could not miss it: by the toothbrush. He said… well, I'd better leave you with his exact words… he ended the letter by letting me know he had already gone. He let me understand that he didn't regret he'd met me, but he was not mourning because he was away from me and from my airs and graces. Breaking up with Renato was a hard case to crack. Actually, we didn't break up. When I finally succeeded scratching that glassy world with my claw, when I liberated myself from its seduction, I thought I could never be free again. I had the courage to look at myself in the mirror again after a long, long time. I'm not a beautiful woman. But those days, and the others after them, I wasn't even remotely beautiful: with a wry face, torn with envy and insecurity, sharp angles on my face, abruptly arched nostrils, sunken wet eyes, skinny hands, my right eyebrow twitching in a while, well, I don't even know why I'm telling you this. When I finally resisted the temptation of going out with Renato's rascals on some nights, in pubs along Lipscani Street, I'd stay at home, crouched under eiderdowns (it was freezing hell in there!). I smoked like crazy, my legs up to my mouth, I smoked those joints I had stolen from Renato's pockets and for which we'd quarrel the very night he returned home, drunk and smelling of sex from miles, his pants stained with sperm, or the next day, waking up the entire house. Half stoned, half numb I ended up masturbating, staring at the ceiling, my finger kneading my purple piece of meat down there, on the rhythm of a song I kept humming in my head… love like a broad (not like a courtesan, or like those priceless chicks or like those slippery and cruel nymphs), a love like this was arresting my nerves, was sending signals to my blunt nails which kept rubbing imaginary skins, at the flame of my memories. Love, with those stage constructions, emerging from living bodies, free from stupid crap, swimming in chocolate dreams and in raspberry honeycombs, always alive… I knew Alex was in his room and was crying silently, keeping a bottle of booze at the foot of her bed. My friends told me and I tried to imagine the scenes myself, she was drinking like a horse until she fell unconscious, refusing to see anybody, stuffing herself with pills and stalling in her bed, with fixed eyes, spit leaking in the corner of her mouth – Kiki – her finger in continuous trembling on the filthy cover. "Is this too good to be true for you? Do you hate your life? I'm going to kick your ass big time. Hear me? You fucking bitch, you think that if you threaten me with your stupid shit I'll really give a fuck about you? I don't fucking care, hear me, I don't fucking care! Get lost!"I also heard she had met someone in some weird situation. It was this guy who taught her to cross herself and other stuff. Then I heard she had really left town, went to her parents for fresh air and relaxation. And I was stuck there, crawling in Renato's apartment, throwing up my damn guts out after those cigarettes that made me see my miserable life a little shinier. Big deal! Unhealthy Liaisons (Paralela 45, 2002) by Cecilia Ştefănescu (b. 1975) "is the story of a woman told by herself in a manner that explores a postmodernist feminine style practicing at the same time an uninhibited (sexually speaking, in the main) and poetic language… It is the expiatory path from one age to the next, in exploration of all possibilities: her love for another woman, filtered through the memory of a childhood friendship, the almost sexual relation with her own brother and another, real one, the platonic cohabitation with a gay friend, drinking and 'grass' binges and, beyond all this, the irremediable despair of a spirit revolting against the world." (Iulia Popovici)

by Cecilia Ştefănescu