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Everyday through my adolescence, my mother would scream at the top of her lungs to wake me up in time to go to school. As a young adult, I would eventually find myself with six alarm clocks. I sleep soundly and I wake up slowly. One morning I woke up and I had a vague awareness that there was liquid leaking out of my vagina and seeping between my buttocks. My pubic hair was matted together. He’d done it again. I should have felt pissed, furious, enraged. Instead, I only felt tired, burdened. This was the third time in about as many months.

I pulled myself out of bed, walked through the windowless middle room and then through the kitchen, where the vinyl flooring, which covered the entire apartment and could never be cleaned because its shiny coating had long since worn off, was worn entirely through in patches. I crossed the long narrow hallway that ran the entire length of the apartment, where the tin ceiling, black with mold, had been ripped open in search of a leak that was never found by a school teacher friend of the landlord who moonlighted as a handyman. I probably coughed as I walked. As long as I lived in that apartment I had asthma, a disease I had never before had and which mysteriously disappeared after I moved. Three or four years earlier, when we had first arrived, I made enthusiastic attempts to make the place cheerful. Now, it all seemed just like so much wasted effort. The bathroom was carved out of the hallway and was two and a half feet, or seventy-five centimeters, wide. From the beginning, the bathroom seemed like a physical impossibility. Going into the shower, which was so narrow that I could barely raise my arms, to wash off the semen from between my legs, I had the distinct impression that my life was swirling down the drain.

I got out of the shower and toweled off. Stoneface was at work. I worked weekends at a call center and my days off were in the middle of the week. The phone rang. It was Luscious. It was barely half past noon, that was early for her. Something must be up.

“How are you,” she asked.

“Um, okay, I guess.”

“Bullshit. I don’t even know why you try to hide stuff from me. I can always tell. What’s wrong.”

She hated Stoneface. They hated each other, although they both refused to admit it. I was dreading telling her, but I hadn’t told anyone about what had been happening.

In a normal relationship, I would have had a fit the first time it happened, but Stoneface and I had never had a normal relationship. He tried having sex with several women before me, but he lost his erection every time. He tried having sex with men with the same effect. Finally, I came along. He did start to lose his erection the first time, but I was so patient, understanding, sweet and non-judgmental about it, we were able to fuck. However, our entire sexual relationship became about him. I could never be anything other than absurdly gentle, never speak above a whisper. If I did, he would become impotent for a time. I was the strong resilient one and he was the delicate flower. So, the first time it happened, I confronted him, but as quietly and gently as possible. The next time I wasn’t so gentle and I thought we had settled it. Predictably, he was unable to have sex with me for a few weeks after that, and now there was this.

Luscious knew that I was not happy with my sex life, but she didn’t know the details. Many people seemed to think we were both gay and attempting to have a heterosexual relationship despite our natural inclinations. As dysfunctional as that sounds, it would have been a million times easier than what was going on. I never found out what was at the root of Stoneface’s discomfort. I tried to encourage him to go for therapy, but he refused. We probably wouldn’t have had the money if he had wanted to, anyway.

“I woke up this morning with semen between my legs.” I finally blurted out over the telephone.

“You’re saying that like it’s bad…”

“Yeah, well in this case it is. I was asleep.”

“You’ve been raped.” She said, her voice rising with outrage. She was one of those anarchists that was good at being about outraged over anything, so it was more annoying than meaningful.

“Is that the most helpful thing you could think of to say?”

“Well, you sound as if you didn’t know, so I thought someone ought to tell you. If you didn’t consent it was rape.”

“Thank you, but you fucking well know that I know that.”

“I don’t know why you stay with him. Just leave him.”

She didn’t really need to say that. It was pretty clearly going in that direction, but for the time being I was stuck because of a lack of money.

“Do you still use a diaphragm?” She asked.

“Yeah.”

“You didn’t have it in, did you?”

“No. Why would I?”

“Well, that sucks.”