She Fits In
Ever see those girls walking around with that new piercing, the one that looks like the pull-tab on the slider of a zipper? I met a girl that had one in the back of her neck. That was the first thing that told me she had to have a wild side. The second thing I learned was just straight-up unreal, far more out-there than something like a racy little piercing. In fact, it was something that proved to be the ultimate test of my ethics.
I guess I’m writing this out so I can organize my thoughts. I don’t want to be dishonest with myself. Besides, I think it was unavoidable; even if they tend to get a bad wrap, weird girls have always, always been my type.
And Emily Seward was truly the weirdest girl I ever met.
I was at my favourite coffeehouse, Death Valley’s Little Brother. I had just gotten an advance for my first novel from Random House, and damn was I thrilled. It was my first published work, and the first novel I’d written where I was less concerned about nailing the perfect prose. Up to that point, it was always about not fucking up. But this one was much more about a vibe, much more about a moment, much more about letting the adventure carry me to someplace I’d never been before. The publishers loved it. I was proud. And, you know, maybe it’s not much of a leap to say that it taught me something very important about relationships.
See, being a writer is a great way to pick up. For me, it was an especially great way to pick up those weird girls I adored so much. Oh yeah, they’re into the odd, artistic types. All you really have to do is go to a public spot and write.
Now, I don’t mean you just buy a laptop and go to off to a café, sit in a corner, and sip on hazelnut-vanilla lattes while you try to look mysterious by hunching over a screen; anybody can do that shit. No—I’m talking about being in the mindset of an artist, which in turn means being a decent person. Artists take in their surroundings, not zone them out. The actual act of creation is incidental. Just go somewhere you like and be you. Smile at people who pass. Join conversations when it’s appropriate. Be relaxed and approachable. Be polite. You’re an artist. You’re a person. Every person fits in somehow.
In my experience, I found that if I did what I did frequently enough at the same place, people weren’t able to control their curiosity. I’m telling you. Without fail, I got both women and men poking their noses in and asking, “What are you writing?”
That’s how I got to meet her. It was one of those surreal moments in life that you never forget.
There I was, writing away, drinking away, and she’s eyeing me every once in a while, from the other side of the dining room. She had a novel in front of her.
I smiled at her and continued writing, and we just kept on exchanging glances. She was young and pretty; blonde, curvy, and a punk-rocker look, with natural vine-looking tattoos around her arms, which were tasteful and not overdone. I noticed she kept flipping the book to the flyleaf, then she’d lift her head up to look at me with this sort of nervousness in her expression, then she’d look back at the flyleaf. She did this for about a minute before she got to her feet and started walking over with the book against her chest, both her arms wrapped around it.
When she arrived, she simply said, “Are you ...” Then she looked down at the book, then back to me. Her brow rose expectantly, and she smiled, revealing perfect pearl-white teeth.
I caught sight of the novel’s title: Rated M. Otherwise known as my book.
She finished: “... Patrick Zac?” Her blue eyes were positively sparkling.
“Yeah,” I said. “Although some critics call me ‘Bad’, and most religious people call me ‘Evil’. But ‘Patrick Zac’ is good too.”
She giggled and said, “Well, Mister Patrick Zac, I really love your novel.”
“You do, huh?” I raised an eyebrow. “Some pretty weird shit in there, don’t you think?”
She shook her head. “I think it’s interesting. Especially the part about when Therese confronts the three versions of herself. That was something different, and surprisingly deep. Oh, um—would you sign it?” She held it out in front of her.
I grinned and said, “Absolutely. Ah, your name?” Later, I’d think about how smooth this all went while watching her naked body sway.
“Emily,” she said. “Emily Seward. Nice to meet you.”
It was the first time anyone asked me to sign the book, and on top of that, she was hot as hell. That smile. The body. The tatts. The hair. And she was nice. You know, it’s not just about the looks.
I was blushing and couldn’t think. I quickly wrote something like, ‘To the nicest girl in the city’, or something equally as uninspired, signed it, and handed it back. My mind and heart were racing. Before me was this gorgeous woman, enthralled with me, and all I could come up with was that?
Before I knew what was happening, we were talking about books. All of our favorites were mostly the same, from Barker to Rice, and after that we talked about movies for a good fifteen minutes. Turned out she was a horror buff. Even more so than me.
I said something that made her laugh, and she threw her head back. When she lowered it, she must have noticed the clock on the wall. “Oh,” she said. “Oh, no. I’ve got to get going. It was really, really great to meet you. You know, I wanted to be a writer—when I was smaller.”
I smiled at the notion, thinking back to my own beginnings. “Lots of work,” I said, “and lots of fun.”
“Oh, I can imagine,” she said. “But I do have some errands to run now. I didn’t even notice the time. I’m late.”
I thanked her for coming over and shook her hand, and then we said goodbye.
But when she turned around and revealed her piercing on the back of her neck, peeking out from just under her hairline, I lost it. I really, really wanted to touch it. It was begging me to. It was just dangling there. I had only seen two or three other girls with the same one, and they were few and far between. It was a rarity to me, exotic, and that made it all the more desirable.
I clumsily rose—almost tripped on one leg of the table—and caught up to her before she disappeared beyond the other side of the door.
And that was the start of that.
The next week was filled with the best conversations of my life. I would walk her to the park every day, and we’d just shoot the shit while on the swings or benches. Talking was so natural. Play-fighting was fun. The kissing was great. In fact, I had this impression that everything about her seemed tailored to my tastes, even though we’d never seen each other before.
But that wasn’t even it; we were clicking. I had partners before, and at risk of sounding like a complete ass, they were all the same. ‘Same’ in the sense that they weren’t too great on the inside. But Emily was different. Emily seemed to be whole and complete as a person, as if she had seen it all and been there and done that, and it had only infused her with this willpower, this burning passion to live. Something that I could very much relate to. Everything was sacred to us.
To top it all off was that piercing. I’d look around for other girls with the same one as her. When I couldn’t find any, it reaffirmed the preciousness of her to me. It was just such a cool, original idea for body-jewelry, and it suited her personality; she was—we both were—into the odd and the strange.
But she almost never let me touch the thing.
One day, in the park, we were kissing on a bench. I kept cupping my hand around the back of her neck, but she’d keep swatting it away or moving it somewhere else before I could get my fingertips to the piercing. She pushed me away and fixed her hair. Or I thought she was fixing her hair at first, but really she was just massaging her forehead and cheeks.
“Listen,” she said. “Why do you think I’m with you?”
“I’m not entirely sure,” I said. “Because we’re so alike?”
“Not just that.”
“I’m decent to you?”
“Not just that, either.”
“It’s because I’m pretty sure you’re a weirdo. I’m a weirdo too. When I read your novel, I really felt like I found somebody that—that got me, you know? Remember, the different selves?”
“Oh, yeah. Yeah, I know that feeling.”
“And when I saw you there at Death Valley’s, I was just so happy. But now I’m scared.”
“Why on Earth are you scared?”
“Because I—I don’t know if you’ll really accept me. If you’ll accept all versions of me.”
“How can you be sure, though?”
“What are you saying, that you have schizophrenia?”
“Well then, I accept that.”
She sighed and fidgeted with her thumbs. “The thing is, I don’t feel like I’ll ever really fit in completely.”
“Look,” I said, “want to know my secret of dating?”
“I don’t think of people as young or old, smart or dumb, black or white. I barely even think of them as man or woman. I think of them more as a unique person, taking up space, doing what they happen to do in this crazy world. Since the world is crazy, nothing’s fair. So then nothing’s unfair. Why should I concern myself with what the world thinks is proper or improper? I just want to roll with whatever comes, and be allowed to be me. Who you are is just who you are. I deal with everything as I go.” I took her hand. “I can’t promise you forever, but I can promise you my best, for as long as I’m able. If you’re okay with that, then nothing about you is going to change my mind.”
That’s pretty much what I said. Her eyes lit up and she smiled.
We kissed furiously.
Fast-forward to that night, at her place. We’re finally doing it.
We undressed fast and got on her bed. We both went on our knees and started kissing, and then our bodies started rocking, and the rocking became pulsing, and the pulsing became full-on sex. She had mounted herself onto me, and we were off.
It felt so damn right. She was tender, yet feral. Her body was immaculate, her face was beaming, and she was moaning this throaty seductive moan I didn’t know she was capable of. As we went at it, I cradled her upright in my arms, still on my knees, and tried very hard not to blow too soon.
My hands kept finding their way around behind her, to that piercing. But she kept moving my hands away each time. I felt something rough along her spine, like a scar maybe.
But it didn’t matter. We were really getting into it. Our movements were one. Our pulses were one. The body, the smile, the moaning. I had to hold something.
So I just went for it again. This time nothing would stop me. I got a hold of it between my thumb and index finger and pinched. Her hand clamped onto my wrist and she was telling me to stop—but at that moment, I didn’t know what that word meant, and I didn’t know if she meant it. She still seemed to be enjoying everything. She kept bobbing up and down, and I just gripped tighter, and thrusted harder.
She was bouncing now, and gasping loud, nearly on the verge of screaming.
I started tugging on it, the piercing, something to play with while I decimated her. I was stronger than her. My muscles were flexed. I was hard as rock. I was in charge of her.
But this was not going to be your typical orgasm.
In the midst of my climax, I pulled very hard. Too hard. The slider-tab piercing moved downwards. For a split-second, I thought I’d torn it right out. That might have been more comprehensible than what actually happened. Instead, it slid along down her back, still fastened, and I was quite shocked to hear a distinct zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzip!
There was a splash of crimson and the sheets went all red.
She reeled back. I felt her moving underneath herself, and her skin started peeling off. I just held on as my orgasm ran its course, wide eyed, and I watched helplessly.
There in front of me, were now two flaps of what was her upper body, pulled apart in a Y-shape.
Out crawled a scrawny, pink, smooth body. It slid out of the flimsy remains, looked at me, and then scurried off of the bed. The eyes were the same color, but bulging out of the sockets. There wasnt a hair on it, and the nose appeared to be flattened out. The mouth was just a slit in the surface of the face.
I was a statue. I couldn’t blink. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what this feeling was.
I heard her feet thump wetly on the hardwood as she walked away. Then I heard the bathroom door close. Then the shower turned on.
I was still lodged inside of whatever was left of her now. Slowly, I withdrew.
As I sat there, naked, my thighs covered in fluids, I examined the empty ‘suit’ in my arms. The eyeholes and mouth were empty, and the texture of the reverse side was kind of like the inside of someone’s throat. It emanated this pungent, fishy kind of smell.
I stumbled backwards, off the bed. When I noticed I was leaning against her closet, and a very real possibility occurred to me.
I swung open the closet doors.
Inside, hanging on hooks, were dozens of the empty skin-suits. They were all different kinds of physical appearances; tattooed, unmarked, all shades of skin tone, different hair colors, different sized body-types. All of their mouths were just slack holes.
I heard the shower stop, and the bathroom door open.
She walked in.
I just stood there.
She said I could leave if I wanted.
Later, she explained that her dad worked for the Canadian Space Agency, and that airtight zippers were first developed by NASA for making high-altitude pressure suits. She told me her dad was very supportive, but refused to tell her how it happened. She had very vague early memories of a big fire, at his work, and thinks that it might have been his fault.
In 2010, she had posed for photos for Weekly Canadian News, alongside another major heading, ‘Dolphin Grows Human Arms’, got paid pennies, and two days later she tried to kill herself. She tried to multiple times, but it never happened all the way. So she just became desperate to feel wanted. It took years of working with different materials and practicing Hollywood makeup methods to get everything just right. She wanted to one day fit in, to feel the freedom of being allowed to walk around in daylight. To be confident enough to walk up to a person and talk to them—maybe ask them to sign her favourite book. To fit in. Belong.
Yeah. If you really think about all of it, there are a lot of people who can relate to that. You know how the world is.
Then along came me, I guess.
Well, that’s how I met Emily Seward. I’m even more certain of everything, now that I’ve written it out.
We’re still dating.
What, you thought all that grossed me out? Maybe. Maybe at first. But it’s really just like sex itself, isn’t it; the first time is always awkward and weird, but the more you get to know someone, the more you fall in love with their features. What makes her less worthwhile? As long as I can get her to smile, I don’t care who or what she is.
Besides, I’m telling you, it’s a different thrill every week. Sometimes we use a suit, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes she lets me pick.
We’ve actually moved beyond the human skins, and we’re going to try something a little more Lovecraftian tonight.