Missionary Positions by Phebe Jewell

The doorbell rings as Marina is going down on me. I keep my orgasm quiet but don’t need to. Her son Max is in the family room down the hall, hunched over his controller, mesmerized by his car crashing through the streets of Los Santos.

The bell rings again.

“Damn it.” She wipes her mouth on the sheet before getting up.

“Don’t answer,” I moan, but Marina is already heading down the stairs.

“Good morning,” a male voice greets her as she opens the door. “We’re missionaries.”

“I’m really glad that works for you, but it’s not for me.” Marina replies, as if talking to a child.

“May we say a prayer with you?” a deeper male voice asks.

“No.” Marina slams the door. Lying prone in bed, I hear the deadbolt click, then her bare feet on the stairs.

She closes the bedroom door and unzips her jeans. “Nobody, Tess. Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. I don’t know.”

She slips under the covers, fingers searching for my wetness. “Now, where were we?”

I roll away from her, wrapping the sheets around my torso and breasts.

“What’s the matter?” She sits up, voice shaped by impatience.

I can picture the men on our porch. Clean-shaven, well-scrubbed faces. Jesus suits, damp and wrinkled from walking around the neighborhood all morning. Excited, nervous. Aware people think they’re a joke.

“You didn’t have to be so rude.”

She brushes hair off my forehead. “Such a sensitive soul.”

I catch her hand in mine, curl her fingers into a ball. “But they wanted to pray with you.”

Snatching her hand free, Marina laughs, a trill edged with anger. “I don’t want their prayers. They think we’re going to burn in hell. I thought you’d be happy.”

The first time we slept together, Marina’s fingers found the scars scoring my wrists. My stigmata, I joked, though neither of us laughed. My parents panicked when they found me with my first girlfriend. Tears, then sermons hurled like thunderbolts through locked doors. I tried cutting the sin out of my body.

But I never told her about Mom’s warm body beside me on the pew. Her arm tucking me in close as we bowed our heads in prayer. Words circling around us. Holy. Sacred. Blessings. When I repeated them out loud my chest expanded. Chanting them made me part of something deep and ancient. I was incense and stone, a chord reverberating from the earth.

I shake my head. “You don’t understand, Marina. It’s not that simple.”

“How can you say that? They think our love is an abomination.”

“I know. But …..” I stop. She doesn’t understand prayer is a mystery, a shared intimacy. Scientists, her parents taught her to value only what can be proven.

“Don’t tell me you still believe all that nonsense.”

The disdain in her voice scares me. I am fourteen again, alone, the people I love far way from me.

I touch her arm. “Some of it was good,” I whisper, waiting for her laugh to push me away.

Instead Marina reaches for me. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry,” her voice husky with worry. I shrink from her touch before her words register.

“I didn’t realize,” she continues, fingers stroking my cheek. I cover her hand with mine.

I have no words. A knock at the bedroom door. Max.

“Mom? Tess? What’s for breakfast?”

“How about eggs and bacon?” Marina answers.

Playing off her generous mood, Max offers “Waffles and OJ too?” from the other side of the door.

“I’ll be down in a sec,” she calls, adding “Last one in the kitchen is a rotten egg.” Pulling on jeans and a tee shirt, she leans down to give me a quick kiss. “Let’s talk later.” A wink at the door before chasing Max down the hall.

Eyes closed, I lie back in bed, hands smoothing the sheets. Downstairs a clatter of bowls and pans as Marina and Max whisk eggs, fry bacon. The sanctuary of their voices invites me.  Stomach grumbling, I slip one of Marina’s sweatshirts over my head.

 

Biography
Phebe Jewell’s recent work appears in Monkeybicycle Review, Spelk, Literary Heist, Maudlin House, MoonPark Review and other publications. A teacher at Seattle Central College, she also volunteers for the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, a nonprofit providing college courses for women in prison.

Image: unsplash.com

866 reads