A Delicate Dance by 
Sarah Beller

After Amelia’s boyfriend left (and took his dick with him), she found new things to put inside her body.

I. Juice

She felt paranoid that Gabe had left her because she’d gained weight. When they first started dating, he held her and called her his “skinny string bean.” She felt like Olive Oyl, like Kristen Wiig. But then, like a plant basking in the love-sun and water-kisses of Gabe’s attention, she grew. Her ass popped and her breasts plumped, but the downside was that her stomach oozed out into rolls. She pretended not to see them, always sucking in when she touched her stomach, as if she could trick her own hands. But she knew the droopy folds were there. And so did Gabe. Every time she looked in the mirror she thought, “My stomach’s never been the same since having kids” –but she hadn’t had kids. Gabe started calling her “fleshy”; he said he meant it in a good way. Then he left.

A therapist once told her she should just flip a coin to make decisions. But what about when there were more than two options, like with the question of what is the best type of juice cleanse for weight loss? Plus there are thousands of other totally different weight-loss approaches, articles claiming juice cleanses are in fact terrible for you, and the only thing to do if you want to lose weight or live past eighty is eat six small meals a day, or eat raw foods, or eat ancient grains.

Gabe had left Amelia alone in this stupid town but a twenty-minute drive away there was a Whole Foods, so she drove there, without a clear plan. She bought two bottles of juice, at $8.99 a pop. She drove home and opened the least disgusting-looking one. She took a sip. Yum. Well, not “yum” exactly. More like, hmm. But she could make herself drink it. She drank Gabe’s cum; she could drink this. His penis like a mother’s breast, kindly gushing out sticky milk, for her to grow strong off of. She drank the expensive juice and sat down to try to get some work done. God, she was hungry. She had to get out of the house. She walked by a Thai place and it smelled really good. Pad Thai was basically vegetables, which was basically the same as juice.

 

II. Intra-Uterine Device

Amelia had an appointment to get an IUD inserted. She’d made the appointment when she was still with Gabe, and saw no reason to cancel just because he had broken up with her. She wasn’t going to stop having sex. In fact, maybe she’d be having more sex than ever. She’d decided to switch to an IUD because she couldn’t keep up the routine of taking the pill every day. Every day she’d be shocked she had to take it again. It was the same shock she felt whenever she looked in the mirror, when the season changed, or when she felt hungry yet again. It had been years – more than thirty- but she still wasn’t used to the ways of this world. In fact, she’d been in a constant state of startle pretty much since birth. She’d never adjusted to the air, the water, the fire, the earth, the music, the banging, the running, the people, the fruit, the trees, the stores, the schools, the churches, the dentists, the kisses, the money, the days or the nights.

There were other reasons for the IUD too, though, besides the fact that she kept forgetting to take the pill. Everyone said it was bad to have all those hormones from the pill pumping into you. She couldn’t exactly figure out why, but it was just a thing that was bad. But her main reason was she hoped that going off hormonal birth control would make her lose weight. She didn’t want her boobs to shrink, though, just her stomach.

There were two kinds of IUDS. One kind was a piece of copper and the other was called a Mirena, which sounded like fiesta—it sounded fun. That one did actually have a little bit of hormones, but for some reason it was less bad than regular hormonal birth control. Something about it being local, it didn’t go in your blood stream that way.

The last reason for the IUD was that she wanted to disguise her desire for children. In addition to getting fat, wanting children was another potential reason why Gabe had left her. Amelia knew there were women her age who didn’t want kids; she read their essays all the time. But she guessed she was a boring old cow like her mother who just wanted to birth some babies to give her purpose in life.  And to finally have another human inside her, for good. Well, for nine months at least.

Getting an IUD, because they lasted for five or ten years, seemed like the ultimate disavowal of the urge to have kids. You think I’m pressuring you to have kids? I have a piece of metal in my uterus blocking me from getting pregnant, don’t be silly. Yes it could come out but it was a whole procedure. The ultimate in cool would be getting your tubes tied or something. But that would probably set off some unconscious alarm in even the most childish boy-man’s biological system. It was a delicate dance. Why would a man be with you if not to reproduce, but at the same time you had to pretend you had no immediate interest in it. You had to seem fertile but indifferent to your own fertility.

Amelia showed up to the reproductive health clinic early, feeling excited but nervous. She’d heard that it hurt, but she couldn’t imagine it could be worse than the pain in her chest ever since Gabe had left. And maybe the physical distress would give her an excuse to be as upset as she already was. The IUD could be a holding container for her rage and sadness, one that felt more righteous than a break-up.

Her legs were splayed out, resting in the stirrups. The OB/GYN was down by her vagina, and a male technician stood up by her head, offering his hand for her to squeeze. Calming music played. The office was nice and warm. With all of that comfort, it was even more shocking when it hurt as badly as it did. Amelia felt a sharp, sudden, agonizing pang coming from deep within her, from a place she’d never ached. This was followed immediately by a rolling nausea, the kind she’d felt once when she absentmindedly gave blood on an empty stomach. Her vision shrunk to a black dot and she heard herself emit a low moan. Her stomach convulsed and she feared she was about to explode in shit and vomit all over the exam table. Her mother had told Amelia that she had shit on the doctor when she gave birth to her. And though she’d never said it, Amelia realized her mom had probably shit on her as she came out, too.

They were only halfway done.

“We can stop now,” the nice gynecologist said.

“We don’t have to do the last part of the insertion. We could take it out now, which doesn’t hurt, if you can’t go through with the rest.”

Amelia hesitated.

“Is the last part as painful?” she asked.

“Well, it’s quick,” said the Doctor.

“Ok,” she said, scrunching her eyes shut and squeezing the technician’s hand.

“Put it in me.”

Bodily margins—vaginas, mouths, noses—are dangerous, and exciting. Things can get in. Or things can slip out.

Amelia’s friend Jenny came to pick her up after the appointment. In the car ride home, they talked about the new novel Jenny was working on.  Amelia asked how she kept herself going. Jenny told her that she wrote notes to herself in the margins. Next to one paragraph she’d write:  “Wow! You rule!” She’d underline a good sentence and scribble:  “This is great! Keep going!”

When Amelia got home she wrote herself some encouragements on post-it notes. It felt dorky, but Jenny had given her permission. She pasted them up on her bedroom walls.

 

III. Fingers

Amelia had never really gotten masturbation. She would remember the Woody Allen line where he says—“Don’t knock masturbating; it’s sex with someone I love.” For Amelia, masturbating was sex with someone she hated. But also, it wasn’t easy. She’d tried with all different types of vibrators. Nothing had worked. She was able to come from sex with a man only.

She tried to find the right porn. She liked the kind where straight boys, like football players, get tricked into having sex with gay guys. Then she moved to something called “romantic.” She found a guy and a girl hiking in the desert mountains. It reminded her of when she and Gabe had gone to Joshua Tree.

She turned to lesbian scenarios. There was a brunette woman showing up at a blond woman’s house. The blond opened the door and was surprised to find the brunette. She said:

“What are you doing here?”

The brunette said: “I just wanted to come by, I’m sorry if I was weird the other night.”

The blond said: “Well yeah, you did leave kind of abruptly.”

The brunette played with her hair and looked kind of nervous. The blond woman looked confident, though.

She took the brunette woman’s hand and said “Well come on in.”

The blond guided the brunette to the bedroom, then sat down on her bed, the sexual tension between them palpable.

Amelia reached inside her underwear to touch herself and felt turned off by the harsh, scratchy hair. But she persisted. She pulled her underwear down, and started touching herself again. In and out, in and out. Fucking herself with three fingers. Her vagina gasping for air. In the past she had used one finger; she hadn’t realized she needed a few, and hadn’t realized she just had to keep trying. Amelia got warmer and warmer and closer and closer. Then she finally knew she was going to come and as she let herself, a warm wash of liquid flowed out of her. She shuddered with pleasure.

When it was over, she lay still as she cooled. Then she felt another spasm, and something slithered out into her hand. She opened her eyes and stared into her palm, where a little white T sat with a plastic wire coming out of it. The IUD. She gently placed it down next to her on the bed. She looked up at her bedroom walls, and read the post-it notes out loud:

“You are a successful entrepreneur,” one said.

“You’re a diamond queen,” said another.

Amelia pulled the coarse quilt over herself, underwear still tangled at her feet. She closed her eyes and drifted off. She dreamt she was lying on a raft out in the sun, rocked gently by the salty amniotic sea.

 

 

 

Sarah Beller‘s writing can be found at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Hairpin, The Rumpus, The Toast, Salon, Electric Literature and other publications. She recently wrote a tv pilot with Brent Katz, called “Space Cadets.” She tweets @julesbesch.