What’s Natural

“Seems to me that this divorce,” he said, “it’s tight as dick skin.”

That was a thing I didn’t understand, because dick skin, not even depending on what the dick is doing at the moment–even when it’s engorged with blood–you can’t forget that the dick will return to its resting, loose-skinned state. And because it spends more time flaccid than not, the saggy state seems more natural to me.

“The lawyer bill for this thing though,” he said, tapping the check against the bar, “–looser than pussy lips.” Which was another thing I didn’t understand, like pussy lips are unhinged and cumbersome and you’ve got to constantly tighten them with a wrench.

“You failed to mention ball skin,” I said. “Ball skin is pretty loose, don’t you think?”

“Lips are looser,” he said.

To move away from talk about the tautness of certain genitalia, I asked about our cats. He said the one had stopped puking. I suggested maybe it was because there was less tension filling the house, and he said Maybe. The other cat, the girl cat, had become more dominant in my absence. “I think it’s because the estrogen levels in the house have decreased because you took yours with you. She sleeps high up on the bed now.”

I thought to tell him that the female cat lacked estrogen because she had been spayed, but I didn’t say anything.

That evening, he called. “I’ve cut myself. Can you bring me bandages and Tylenol and hydrogen peroxide?”

At the drug store I felt a not-that-old panic and concern.

I still had a key. I knocked and opened the door and found him plank-like on the floor with his thumb wrapped in a kitchen towel over his head, blood running past his elbow.

“Do you want to do this right here, or do you want to sit up?” I asked.

“Here.”

I knelt over him, brought his arm down to level, and held his hand over the already bloody towel. I poured the hydrogen peroxide over the wound several times, letting it froth, then calm, then froth, then calm.

“Take back what you said about pussy lips,” I said.

I smeared the Neosporin over his deep cut, and the blood ran out from under it.

“Why?” he asked, “I was just saying. Relax.”

“I am relaxed,” I said.

Before I pushed the sides of his wound together, I said, “This might hurt,” and then I forced two butterfly sutures over it.

I got up off my knees, and he said, “Can’t you wrap it up? I can’t walk around like this.”

“Apologize first. Then I’ll wrap it up.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. He said it twice. “I just heard it on TV and thought it was funny.” His feet twitched, but he didn’t get up and I left him there on the floor, resting. He held his arm over his head.

Later that night, while I was in bed with another man, I brought his penis close to my face. He was up against the wall, I was sitting sort of upright. In my hands it was warm, and based on what I knew about the softness of my genitalia, and considering the skin I was observing so close to my face, I thought that my ex-husband wasn’t entirely wrong. Dick skin is kind of tight.

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Natalie Edwards’ fiction has appeared in the Chicago Reader, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, decomP, on the Rumpus, forthcoming in ACM vol. 2.1 and, you know, around here and there. The Rumpus named her one of the funniest women of McSweeney’s, and she has a featherproof minibook. You can read and hear more at natalieaedwards.com.