A slight smile pulls at Joy’s unwilling lips as she daydreams. Not of wedding dresses, rom com meet cutes, or Oscar speeches, but of fist fights, bar brawls, and cussing shouting matches with disgusting, middle-aged white men. Instead of hopes of softly caressing the cheek of a newfound love, her desires centered on roughly scratching the eyes out of a foul-mouthed bastard. In fact these fierce urges vastly outgrew the number of romantic fantasies that intruded her space. Boys were on her mind but they definitely weren’t gentlemen. Far from it.
Steel-toed boots against shin. Beer bottles shattered against the wall. The satisfying crunch of an earned fractured bone. Tears and rips on both of their clothes. Dripping sweat down the slope of her nose. The burgeoning bruise forming a shiner around his eye. His firm chokehold around her slender neck. These are the details she loved best. These fragments are the ones that drove her heart wild.
The rush to her head as her palm collided against his face. The way the adrenaline moved her to dodge his fists. How survival instinct dictated every sidestep, every muscle, every swift movement. When most girls dreamed of falling in love, she fantasized of inflicting pain.
Because what’s more natural than protecting your body?
Definitely not love. A social construct invented to make having sex more bearable, romantic love was a fallacy to Joy. It was just a mixture of chemicals in the brain. A fragile, temporary shield that blocked out both participants’ shortcomings. A high that doesn’t even last that long compared to the horrid, long-lasting consequences of such a blind union: binding social contracts, destructive codependency, broken dreams, permanent labels, dissolved identities, jealous rage, mutual (and self) loathing, passive aggressive antics, power struggles, filthy filthy spawn.
It all left a lingering bad taste in her mouth.
She thought “I’d rather be knocked out and harried than knocked up and married.” A stranglehold around her neck over a ring around her finger, any day. Commitment made her stomach lurch, and the thought of sincerely saying “I love you” would be all that was needed to make her vomit.
Affection made her uncomfortable. She could never go through the implicit trust that comes with closing eyes and grazing lips, never hold someone’s hand without dreading its drop, never experience the hallmark holidays and anniversaries without always contemplating their end. Tension will always run through her anxious, coupled veins, but at least fights don’t last long while heartache is a prolonged pain she never wanted to face.
But death threats lit up her eyes.
Nothing like the promise of ruin to make her emit a sigh of longing. She got butterflies over butterfly knives. Crushes over giving curb stomps. Alleluias over afflictions. The only sweet nothing she wanted was the empty abyss that awaits us all.
And she couldn’t wait to bid farewell to the next guest.