Knoxville, June by Kate Jayroe

Editor Acacia Blackwell, Editor's Choice, May 17th, 2017

"...I was the first woman you’d eaten and you were the second woman I’d eaten..."

Kate Jayroe Essay Nailed Magazine
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A personal essay by Kate Jayroe.

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It was Knoxville, June. The two of us danced with a big man in denim who lived off Alcoa near the airport. We were at Sassy Anne’s. Tequila shots. I was the one in the middle. My boyfriend was out of town. I laughed with him on the phone while you sat in my car, your Solo cup clenched between your thighs. My Diva Cup fell in the toilet and I shrugged and put it back in, thinking, either this or bleed out at Sassy Anne’s. Going commando was, at this point, an important promise to myself. We drank Miller High Life and went back to yours and you ate me out on your bed with the wine-stained bed skirt even though I’d been bleeding and I told you this. I was the first woman you’d eaten and you were the second woman I’d eaten and everything about how swollen and humid the air was made us sticky and raw with sweat and grain.

At work, a basement maintenance company, I was hung over and I wondered did these God-Fearing men who put condoms on basements know of my knowledge of other, more beautiful vaginas than just my own? They didn’t care. They dipped and loaded up trucks. They got Firehouse subs on lunch break. They drank beer on the lake on their weekends. And went to church.

I left work early and drove to the Dr. I had chills and a UTI from Sassy Anne’s Diva Cup toilet water. After starting antibiotics, I had a UTI and a yeast infection. I called out the next day. My roommate played only Aaliyah. We rubbed crystals and burned sage and then burned a bunch of old t-shirts soaked in oil paint. We breathed fumes and decorated our backyard table with a brick that said “Kimberly” on it, a molding shower curtain, a vase with some wilting flowers. We made lemonade inside a food processor and avoided the blades but were glad they were there. I’d shoved a bunch of raw garlic up my snatch, tasted it all day.

It was Nashville, April. I was with my boyfriend. We got stoned and ate fried chicken naked in the kitchen. We stayed the night at his parent’s empty house in Nashville. I drank for the first time after taking a two-month break. Whiskey, lime. Slept hard. We rehearsed his lines for a drama final as we drove back to Knoxville. A short scene concerning a man named Tony who is two-faced and doesn’t take hints. He laughed and asked me, was he anything like Tony? Not yet, I said. I smiled down at the pages.

It was Knoxville, April. I’d been so mad at my roommate I couldn’t eat for days and my best friend in town cooked me noodles and said dress me like a woman tonight, and I did I dressed him in mine and another friend’s clothes and we filmed him seducing alleyways. He said his mother still prays he might un-gay himself. The next day, we walked down the highway eating cake with our bare hands until we gave up, got a cab back.

It was Nashville, June. I spent the night at my boyfriend’s parents’ house while they were in town. My boyfriend ate me out with the tink tink noise below us of his mother setting the table. Chicken parmesan. His father fist-bumped me. I’d told a funny joke. He seemed shocked by how pretty I was. The father did. The next night, I went out with my best friend. My best friend was staying at his parents’ house in Nashville while they were out of town. We got trashed with rich rising college juniors, all fresh from worldly semesters abroad. There was coke at the party. I said, I have to go, a white rapper named Little Foot was hitting on me. One of the college girls got jealous, turned on me. One adjusted my dress, covering my tube bra as it peeked out the side.

We drove away, wasted. Our legs touched in his bed. I kept my leg there. My best friend cupped my ass cheeks said I can’t wait to see the man you’ll become then he was eating my pussy and I said that’s very sweet but I’m not going to cum. We vaped in bed and when I went to pee, the bathtub in the corridor had clunky equipment for his disabled little sister. There were angel dolls everywhere and framed Bible scriptures on the wood-panel walls and potato chips clipped safe and tucked away in cupboards and there were collectible Barbies in glass cases celebrating things like new millennium and old Hollywood and Wintertime and we were in Donelson, blocks away from the home where my great grandmother died. I grew up going to see her. She’d give me a five-dollar bill and we’d walk up and down halls. I want to be the kind of old person she was which was very strong and generous and always walking up and down halls.

You kissed me goodbye at my going away party at the very end of June in Knoxville and you smelled like the BBQ joint you worked at, Dead End. My boyfriend was now my ex-boyfriend. Not invited. My roommate brought me red wine in a mug and bought toilet paper on his own, begrudgingly. My best friend was there and wanted to hook up with another girl, wanted to hook up with your sister’s best friend who ended up marrying my roommate the following spring in a long, silk slip with the antlers I’d left behind dangling above her head as she promised something deep through her young arms.

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Header image courtesy of Ángela Burón. To view her photo essay, “Static Minds,” go here.

Kate Jayroe Essay Nailed MagazineKate Jayroe is an editor at Portland Review, bookseller at Powell’s Books, Youth Programs Intern at Literary Arts, and staff member with the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Work by Kate appears in JukedHobartNANO Fiction, and elsewhere.
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Acacia Blackwell

Acacia is a writer from Portland, OR, which suits her because sunshine gives her anxiety. She is currently completing an MFA, despite being recently told by Tom Spanbauer that to become a better writer, she needs to "unlearn all that grad school stuff." She listened, and it seems to be working. Acacia is working on a collection of personal essays that she really doesn't want to admit might be a memoir, and a memoir that she really doesn't want to admit might be a novel.