Storyglossia Issue 18, February 2007.

My Old Lady

by Mary Miller


Denis called his fiancée my old lady. Growing up, his mother dated bikers.

Denis' fiancé was in Panama City with her girlfriends, in celebration of her upcoming nuptials, while the two of us were in his bed, landlocked and naked.

She cooks and she cleans and she's got this ass, he said, showing me the shape of it with his hands, that's got just the right amount of jiggle. And she's moving up in the world. Not standing still, like the rest of us.

Maybe I should do her, I said, to be polite.

My old lady even irons my underwear. And she never burns anything. He said this last part slowly, chewing up every syllable before spitting it back out. You'd like her, he said, a hand between my breasts, and then he lifted the larger one to his mouth. He did this thing with his tongue that felt nice, a thing I did not remember. I laid my head on her pillow and shut my eyes.

I'd never ironed his underwear, or folded them, and I burned everything. Years ago, we lived together in an old house full of old things. Our television had no remote and our stove had no timer, and for some reason it never occurred to me to buy them. He used to like his food burnt. He used to like me, back when my ass had just the right amount of jiggle, back when I was his old lady.

You like that? he said. Old dog's learned some new tricks.

I was moaning. It had been a long time.

Yeah, I said. Mama likes, which was an old trick, bringing his mother into it.

He got on top of me again, said he was gonna turn me out. I turned my face into her pillow. It smelled like sunshine, like it had been dried on a Greek island. I had never been anywhere but I kept a world atlas under my bed, memorized facts I did not need to know.

I wrapped my legs around his middle and squeezed. His eyes stayed put inside his head.

Mama likes it when you slap her, I said, and his eyes narrowed like he didn't remember mama liking that at all but he reared back and did it anyway. My eyes leaked into her pillow. Then it hit me: the pillowcase had been washed in Gain. When he finished, he pulled out and said daddy didn't really like that and I said mama didn't really like it either, she just wanted to see what it felt like.

Copyright©2007 Mary Miller