Writers know that inspiration comes from everywhere. It hits at strange times, usually when you’re least expecting it and definitely when you don’t have any paper or pens nearby. Ideas wake you up, and you can’t sleep until you grab that Post-It on your desk, write “flying monkey,” go back to sleep, and realize in the morning that you have no idea what the hell you were trying to say. Regardless, there are times when you wake up with a story in your head, and it does make sense. So you write it.
So. I wrote it.
Craving His Skin
It’s dark in my boyfriend’s room, but I can wake up in blackness and know where I am. It’s not because of the smell—fabric softener and remnants of cigarette smoke. It’s not the sound of college kids on the street outside, and it’s not even the familiar sound of Isaac breathing in his steady sleep-breath. No, it is the tactile sensation of my cheek on his warm chest that blips like an ocean beacon in my mind. It is this sensation that reminds me of my place in his bed and in his life, and it is this sensation that I crave more than water after a night at the bars.
When I met Isaac, I didn’t realize I would crave him and someday be addicted to the safe place in the center of his chest, three inches beneath his chin. We met at a bar I don’t like in the city I love—Charleston, South Carolina. To protect the innocent, let’s call the place Uno. How I hated Uno. It was a place with purple lighting and bathroom stalls that refused to lock. It was also a place where drunken men would do the dance floor sneak attack. All of a sudden, you’d have a pelvis riding your ass, and you’d have no idea why.
I was less than thrilled when I saw a bachelorette party at the bar where my drink was waiting. It’s fun when you know the girl getting married; it’s annoying when it’s a stranger, throwing elbows in your ribs and doing body shots off frat boy stomachs. I sighed and approached the crowded, sticky bar corner and noticed they already had a male victim in their grasp.
Poor bastard, I thought, but he wasn’t the usual College of Charleston frat boy. He was older than a frat boy—early thirties—and smaller than guys I went for, probably only five-seven or five-eight. He was feigning interest as the bachelorette shouted bridal insights in his face. He couldn’t help but look at me as I passed behind her, and oh, the desperation in those turquoise eyes. He was much paler than my usual type, and the midnight black hair exacerbated his lack of beach time. Not my kind of guy, so why did I go for him?
Oh, yes. I remember.
When the bachelorette noticed she’d lost his attention, she knocked over my drink—a Firefly Vodka that was nowhere near the edge of the bar. I looked down and frowned. When I looked up, the pale, short dude was flinching because the bachelorette had torn the top of his button-down shirt open to halfway down his chest. Buttons flew, and someone screamed, “Body shot!”
The guy took a step away from the bachelorette and grabbed my arm. “There you are,” he said, and I liked his voice—tenor with the feel of tires on gravel. He led me to a corner, away from the bachelorette and any hope of an icy cold beverage. When we got there, though, I had my first look at the chest I would eventually crave.
It was a pale chest, like the rest of him. I could see definition and a body fat percentage of say, two. There was a smattering of short hair between his pecs, and it was much lighter than the thick, ebony hair on his head. “You saved me back there,” he said, but I did not crave small talk. I craved his skin.
Why did I reach out and touch him? The moment was like a precursor for our relationship. Isaac would talk; I would touch. I reached out, in the purple glow of Uno, and pressed the palm of my hand against his warm chest. Was I in love? No. Nearly. My palm absorbed the heat from his bare skin, and my fingertips explored beneath the edge of his shirt. His hand reached up and covered the back of mine, and he stepped closer to me. He kissed me before he knew my name.
I realized I had a craving (we’re not calling it addiction) when my roommates used the last of my coffee, and no one bought anymore. There was no longer coffee in our apartment because Sara no longer slept at home. I only slept at Isaac’s place. And there we would always be—us, in his bed, in our position.
I can close my eyes and feel that position. On my stomach. My back arched up; my chest folded over the edge of his ribcage. Most importantly, my cheek on his chest. The warmth of his chest against my cheek. The way his coarse chest hair tickles against my eyelashes when I blink in the morning light. It is the utter bliss of an addict with her fix. My craving fulfilled.
Why? I ask myself this every morning when Isaac gets up. Why, when he leaves to shower, do I feel so cold? Why do I already start thinking about the coming night when I will be back in my spot—back in the midst of my romantic addiction? WHY?
Because I’m in love. Isn’t it so simple? So simple that it’s overlooked as an addiction. Wacky Sara and Isaac’s chest. The first night, at horrid Uno, it was about his chest. Isaac was not my type. I wouldn’t have noticed him if it hadn’t been for an annoying bachelorette and the destruction of Isaac’s shirt. Then, I’d seen his skin, and somewhere inside me, I had known that I wanted to meet the heart beneath that skin.
I’m not saying that in love you just know. It’s not usually like this. Sane people don’t see a stranger in a bar and just know they will fall in love. I’m not sure I knew the love aspect of my first meeting with Isaac. I had known, however, that I craved something from him. It had been easy to spot a muscular chest and say to myself, “I think I’d like to touch that.” It had not been easy to give up high-heeled shoes because my boyfriend was short. It had not been expected to realize that the craving was no longer a craving. The craving had become love. It always does.
And that’s where I am, as he starts to wake beneath me. I hate when Isaac wakes up, because it means he’ll leave soon, and I will crave him all day. The palm of his hand leaves the base of my spine, but instead of rolling away from me, he puts his fingers in my hair. He doesn’t try to pull my face up to his, because Isaac knows—he knows I crave his skin. He allows me to enjoy a few precious extra minutes before he jumps in the shower and leaves me cold in his bed.
“I have an idea,” he says, touching the edge of my cheek with his thumb. “Let’s call in sick today.” I lift my cheek from his chest, smile into those bright blue eyes, and realize that if my craving is a sickness, I don’t want to get better.