It’s Only Been Me, All This Time

Bridget Chiao Clerkin

There was this girl, a friend. I like her, she’s cute. She was into this guy at a party. She pointed him out then huddled in a little circle with her two friends I’d just met, over by the Christmas lights. It was like they were going to draw a pentagram on the floor, and that’s how she was going to get him. And if they spoke to anyone else at the party, it would break the spell. I wanted to leave the party and wanted someone to come with me. I was respectful, but it was like my needs versus how long their spell was going to take. He looked more my type than hers, anyway. My friend wants too much of them, doesn’t know how to just want them for one night.

He had a shaved head. He wore a very clean white t-shirt and blue jeans. He had diamond studs in his ear. Earrings are not my favorite. If he’d been white, it would have been a no deal with the earrings.

Me and boy tried to go to a bar on Hollywood but the bouncer said fella was too casually dressed. This was bullshit. We knew the code. All the white people from Los Feliz were over. They always parked with their cars a foot into my building’s driveway, like just a little bit is okay. We backtracked and went up to his room and drank his roommate’s room temp Taiwanese beers and fucked. His apartment was across the street from the party. About halfway through I started to get tired. I knew I wasn’t going to come, just one of those nights that are always during week 2 of my pill. When he finally said, “You want my cum,” or something tacky like that, I was like, “Yeah,” and I meant it as in Hurry Up. I left, the guy passed out, and my friend was down in the parking lot, standing in a circle with her coven from the party. I took out a cigarette and then all three asked for one because they don’t actually smoke. I was like, Fuck, but also, I’m nice, so I handed them out like a GI giving Baby Ruths to kids in Berlin.

What had they been up to?

“Oh, we ate some chicken and now we’re going to Toni’s place.” Toni was one story up from the guy who was now passed out. “You coming up?”

Oh, totally.

So we were up at Toni’s and just nothing was happening. It was like watching water go down a drain but no whirlpool. Everything’s about to be gone and there isn’t even a show. My friend mentioned the guy. I felt like a spy. They lived in this world without men because they hated men. And they were right. They were too smart for the boys. But for some reason they resented that superiority. There was nothing I could do for them. Superiority is ace. Rabid desire is pure and good. Drowning is a sport.

They were all drinking wine but I wanted a beer because wine gives me headaches. I’d be right back. There was a 7-11 over on Sunset where I bought a forty and some Cool Ranch Doritos. When I got back to Toni’s and knocked, nobody answered. I could hear music from inside. I knocked again.

Somebody from downstairs, standing on the balcony, shouted, “Fucking cut that out.”

I leaned way over the railing and looked down. It was the guy. His boxers were on. I hadn’t noticed his chestpiece. “Hey, baby,” I said. “My friends locked me out.”
“Some friends,” he said. He turned and went out of view. I heard a door slam just as Toni’s door opened and I went back in.

My friend said, “Yay, you’re back!” and put her hands up in the air like a gymnast at the Olympics. We sat and they ate all my chips and we laughed when the white girl on the TV indicated we were to do so.

“You guys wanna go back out?”


“Everything’s closed.”

I wanted to leave. What was guy’s apartment number. My body was catching up. I’d carried upstairs with me the sum of all his parts, and I wanted him now in his absence.

Downstairs, the stars were aligned. I got his door right. “People keep waking me up,” he said.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” he said.

I keep waking you up. It’s only been me, all this time.”

I clunked the forty down on his table and closed the door. I got my hands back around him, grabbed his ass, pushed up on his crotch. His jeans and shirt had looked all starchy and brand-new, but his boxers were worn out. Everything was soft and gentle and inviting underneath.

“Hold on,” he said.

“Come on,” I said. “What.”

“I don’t think I can get it up again.”

I took his hand and we went into his room. It was warm and still inside. He was right, he wasn’t getting it up. I told him to fuck me with the neck of one of the empty beer bottles from earlier while I rubbed one out. Not the forty. That was still on the table, half-full. He was really concerned, like, Is this too far? My pill makes me super dry but I had some of him from earlier so he got the bottle in pretty far. He said he’d never done this before, and I told him I hadn’t either. It was that stretch of the night just for honesty. Upstairs, the world was closing in, but down here, the world opened up around me, within me, and for me.


Bridget Chiao Clerkin is originally from Southern California and currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband and three children. She has an MFA from the University of California, Irvine.