28 Jul Natalia Hero
Before I get into it I just need to get this out of the way: I have a body. My body is a hassle to drag around to shows and parties so usually I keep it at home. My body takes up space in a way most people can’t wrap their heads around. If I bring my body to the bar, people will bump into it and trip over parts of it, and I have to say sorry, that’s my body, here, I’ll move it. And listen, I don’t expect people to feel bad for me about it. I’ve had it for long enough that I’ve come to accept it. It’s almost a part of me. It’s just kind of inconvenient, you know?
And it means that when David wanted to fuck me, I was surprised. I thought, wait a minute, can he not see? Is he blind? Because you’d really have to be blind to miss my body. Which could be really dangerous, because if you’re not careful, my body could crush you. Someone could really get hurt. But David had definitely seen me out in public with it before he told me he wanted to fuck me.
When David touched me I was reminded of something I’d never felt before, which doesn’t make sense, and neither did David touching me. He didn’t seem to mind my body at all. At first he worked his way around it but as we got more comfortable together he actually found creative ways to involve it in our time together. The feeling was new to me. After we stopped seeing each other, I even spent a few weeks feeling like my body and I were a package deal. So I guess it all started with him. I stopped leaving my body at home, stopped neglecting it.
And then I met Mark, who had a body too. He dragged it into the bar one night when I’d been sitting alone having a whiskey with mine. I think David was actually there too that night, but I couldn’t really see him. I had started ignoring people who didn’t have bodies. I didn’t talk to Mark that night, but he caught my attention. I ended up running into him again that same week, same place, and again he walked in dragging his body all nonchalant, pretending it wasn’t even there. But then every so often, he’d suddenly twitch really violently and you’d see his body shake and that’s when you’d notice it. So I picked up my body, walked it over to him, dropped it right next to his and looked at him. And then he bought me a drink, we chatted, and the next thing you know, we’re a couple, sharing our bodies like it’s no big deal.
Bodies are fucked up. If you had one you would know. My relationship with Mark needed both our bodies to survive. I remember early on, we took a weekend trip to New York and left our bodies at home, thinking it’d be a hassle to get them through customs and anyway we should travel light if we wanted to go out and do some sightseeing. We had our first and worst fight the night we arrived. It just didn’t work without our bodies. We learned quickly that no matter what we did together, our bodies had to be involved.
As things got serious, we really started sharing our bodies in a way I’d never imagined I was capable of. Because I lived near where he worked, Mark started spending a lot of time at my place. Sometimes he’d be rushing in the morning and he’d forget to take his body with him to work. I’d stay home with it all day, lying in bed under its weight or sitting tangled up with it on the couch. He’d come home and say he didn’t even notice he’d left it with me, it just felt that natural. One time he grabbed mine by accident and spent all morning with it at the office, until I came to pick it up for a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. I always trusted him with it, and let him take it whenever he liked.
We hit a rough patch about a year in, when Mark found out he was being transferred to Toronto. Even though we were sharing our bodies more than ever, the distance scared us. I couldn’t imagine leaving my body with him for more than a few days, or keeping his around with me for too long. I thought about ending things, but I could never bring myself to.
When he left he put my body in the back seat of his car between boxes. I felt afraid of what would come next. I spent the next two weeks taking care of his body as I always did. I barely left the apartment and when I did I’d bring it with me, keeping it close and not giving a shit when people stared. Mark and I skyped every night, and I’d make him show me that my body was safe and comfortable in its new environment. I lay awake at night next to his body, wishing it was my own. I missed my body more than I missed him.
He was due to bring it back for the upcoming long weekend, but when he arrived that Friday night I could tell right away that something was wrong. I said you forgot it, didn’t you, and he didn’t even answer. He went straight into my bedroom to see his. The way he carried it out and back into the car made me sick, though I wasn’t sure why. He told me he’d been too tired from work to go home and get my body before leaving. I held it against him for the rest of the weekend. We talked about taking a break. He said he’d be back in a month with my body, or I could come get it sooner if I needed it. I told him of course I didn’t need it, of course I could wait.
I did a good job of keeping myself busy for the next month. I started seeing other men, ones that didn’t have bodies, and I managed to fool them into thinking that I didn’t either. I still missed it some nights. Mark and I hardly spoke anymore, and when we did and I asked about my body he’d change the subject. After a month, he didn’t bring it back as he’d promised, and I started feeling anxious every day.
Finally, late in the fall, I took the train to Toronto and went to his apartment. It was early in the afternoon, so he was still at work. I used the spare key he’d given me and went inside, hoping to grab my body quickly and head home right away. When I walked in, there was nothing in the living room. I crept into the bedroom. His body lay there motionless on the bed next to someone else’s. I checked under the bed for mine but couldn’t find it. Finally, I checked his closet and there it was, looking frail and malnourished and covered in dust. I picked it up over my shoulder – it wasn’t heavy anymore – and carried it to the train station.
Since then, even though it stayed thin and light, I’ve stopped bringing my body out with me again. I date men who don’t have bodies and I pretend I don’t either or I’ll mention it casually without ever showing them. At night, I hold my body close to me, careful not to squeeze too tight.
Natalia Hero is a Montreal writer with lots of anxiety. She is currently doing an MA in literary translation. Her writing has previously appeared in The Void, on Twitter @supernasst, and in her laptop’s trash can.