The Chicken Dance
When it came down to it, I slept with him because Mom made a dead chicken dance. She hefted it up under its wings as if presenting a child. A trail of pink slime dripped on the counter as it kicked and shimmied its way across. A dead thing, a used-up thing, a pitiable thing, but for two minutes it danced and soaked up a little admiration.
I met him at the park, behind a line of shrubs, when my friends and I shared a single cigarette I'd stolen from Mom. I tried to smoke the one he gave me without coughing as he played with the strap of my dress. His skin cracked over his knuckles, like a road map of a hard life. His hair had started to recede, and lines creased the corners of his lips. The years that sat behind his eyes doubled my own, but the way he watched me made me forget to care.
He drove me to the end of a dirt road. I stared at the frayed hem of my dress, pulling at a wayward thread when I couldn't bring myself to look at him. The shadows cast by the light of the dashboard made his face dangerous. The anticipation eluded me as it always had. Shame scrubbed away any excitement, leaving me covered in welts like road rash.
The weight of the night smothered me like his body did. His calloused hands felt rough and his shadow of a beard scratched my neck. I felt no pleasure, and swallowed down the complaints and refusals that always crawled up my throat like bile. Instead, I closed my eyes and clung to his shoulders as he made me dance, a dead and used up and pitiable thing soaking up a little admiration.
Heather Heyns is a freelancer writer from Southern California. Her work can be found in Howl Literary Magazine and upcoming issues of Literary Orphans, Thick Jam, and Yellow Mama.