Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grey Johnson

All the Reasons

I bring you little gifts, set them around the room, and study you as you walk, watching you touch them one at a time in the afternoon light, with the drapes drawn against the heat. You tilt your head, and give me a sort of doubt I enjoy, for I can never tell if you like a thing until you lift your eyes. The moment before you look up is endless and staggering, and I feel like a puppy – which I despise but cannot resist.
You put your feet on my coffee table, and your gentle knees know how to smile. Sometimes I hate to touch you because of it. It has been months, but I still cannot believe I let you dab lipstick on my mouth, as I was rubbing my hair with a towel. It was an ambush, and I surrendered out of shock and confused pleasure. You know, sometimes you get face powder on the tops of your eyelashes, and since I cannot think of a gentle enough way to remove it, I do not. Then I feel guilty for letting it stay.
I am distracted by the subtle colors and textures of all your lingerie, and sometimes I want to ask you to leave it on longer, but I do not, which makes me feel childishly shy. You never ask for anything, so I feel preoccupied with trying to predict your wants. I think I have even forgotten how to carry on a conversation, since you coax me with questions, and I fret that you will find me dull. Once we part, I predictably think of hundreds of things to say. It is such a fucking cliché. I resent your ease with words.
Your motions are so deliberate and graceful to me, that I lose track of time as you flip the pages of a magazine. I refuse to talk about your smell, or your lips, or your hair, or your skin, or the sound of your breathing, or the way you grace your hands over me as you sleep and keep me awake half the night. You exhaust me, and when we are together for more than a day, I am so tired I feel as if I am dreaming, sweetly, on my feet.
Recently, I have begun going to ridiculous lengths to keep my apartment clean, even scrubbing the faucet handles with an old toothbrush. I cannot figure out why I want you to teach me to iron, because I know this will be interpreted as a milestone gesture, and I am not ready to make it. Yet I fantasize about the steam curling around your hand, the creaking sound of the ironing board, and the smoothing of the wrinkles. I know it will be work not to warn you against getting burned. I should be rational, and realize I do not have time to spend worrying over collars and cuffs. That is why I take my shirts to the cleaner – but the comforting image remains.
There is a rhythm to our communication now, a dependability that feels stifling, yet when I do not talk to you, it seems the day yawns rudely in my face. I can never understand the tone of your emails, and I am crushed or made furious constantly, only to discover your humor later, as you laugh at my responses. Clearly, you do not understand my tone either, and it makes me feel isolated from you and somehow lonely. This is the exact opposite of what I need.
I feel itchy and annoyed all the time. You give me strange thoughts about housekeeping, and insecurities about being able to communicate. You cause me endless doubt. You take unwelcome liberties with my furniture and my lips. Yet, I allow all of it - but why do I do this?
It makes no sense at all, because I do not love you.

© Grey Johnson 2011

Grey Johnson lives in a small town in northeastern South Carolina. Her garden is very important to her, and so are her dogs. She reads and knits rectangles, but seldom knows what to do with them. She doesn’t have a blog or website, but writes some on the Six Sentence Social Network. You can also check out her brilliant little collections on Issuu.


  1. grey - another hit out of the ballpark! yawns rudely in my face? that's awesome. and the lipstick put on down to the ironing - great stuff. but the ending had all kinds of emotion in the simplest words.

  2. Oh my. This ranges from erotic to contrary to hilarious. How do you do it???

  3. I agree with Bolton and Gita. Mesmerizing.

    Jeanette Cheezum

  4. Anyone who can write like this HAS to be hell on wheels (or in sensible shoes, or sneakers, or come-f-me pumps).

  5. I wish I knew who this was diredted to, but I have to say it explains alot, and I like it.


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