Matthew Lyons is probably taller than you, not that it's a competition or anything. His work has most recently been published in Out of the Gutter, The Molotov Cocktail, Animal, Abstract Jam and more. Complaints can be filed on twitter at @reverendlyons
This Modern Romance
To be fair, when they first got together, Doug did tell her he was into some kind of weird shit, but walking out of the hotel room after their third date, Steph wishes he'd been a little bit more specific about that.
First time they went out, it was nothing major, just a local pub, basic Tinder shit, getting to know you, getting to know you're not a psycho. Usual routine. Steph ordered a vodka tonight, which she hates, just so she'd drink it real slow. Doug ordered a Guinness but he wasn't pretentious about it, no poseur talk or typical beer-bro bullshit about It tastes better in Dublin, but any port in a storm, I suppose, nothing like that. He just ordered it, let it settle, and spent the next hour asking her about her. It was refreshing. He was refreshing. He wasn't arrogant, he didn't really seem to have any ego at all. Cute, too. Really cute, in that sort of rumpled mid-late 20s kind of way, like he was perfectly capable of getting serious about adulting whenever he wanted, but would only do so when he was good and ready.
He seemed chill. He was chill. That was why Steph stuck around, honestly. He didn't seem interested in impressing her, or anyone else. He was just there to... find out more, or something.
So, yeah. Steph stuck around.
Their first date lasted three whole hours, with each of them probably asking more questions and ordering more drinks that they should have, but by then it was too late to keep score, anyway. They were just having fun, and that's what it's all supposed to be about, right? So fuck it, whatever.
Looking back, though, that was probably how they first started talking about sex stuff. It was fun, and they were too drunk to worry about it, and anyway, there's some secret thrill in asking about someone's fetishes when they were a total stranger a couple hours ago. It's fevered, like a beautiful, secret sickness. Except when they got off her and moved onto him, he just shrugged and said, It's kind of weird.
"I can handle weird."
He blushed then—he actually blushed!—and shook his head.
"I'm not so sure about that. Nothing personal. It's just, I'm into something pretty, uhm, specific?"
Steph narrowed her eyes at him and gave her best sultry smile and said, "Well, now I have to know."
He grinned at her in that charming Doug way and drained his beer, knocking away the swell of pink-red from his cheeks. "Maybe next time."
Steph played offended, pressing the flat of one hand against her breastbone.
"Why Doug, what makes you think there'll be a next time?"
But he just gave her that smile again and ordered another beer, and moved the conversation along to something a little bit safer.
Date #2, they went to a movie, some Harry Potter ripoff that they didn't either of them really see because they were too busy making out like fourteen year-olds in the back of the theater. It was hot, and totally ridiculous, and way too much fun, and by the time the credits rolled, both of their jaws were sore, and that made it kind of hilarious, too, which was sweet, but it also didn't stop Steph from going home and masturbating about it all. Twice.
The wednesday after that, he texted her asking with winky faces if she wanted to know how weird he really got.
Of course she said yes.
His next text, a couple hours later, was just a time and a place: HOTEL CLINTON, ROOM 36C. FRIDAY, 11PM. After that, nothing. Not even when she texted him back Can't wait, you fucking weirdo with a bunch of emojis of her own. At first she was offended, then after a while just figured it was part of his whatever weirdness. Okay, fine, cool. Let's see how weird he gets. If it's too much, she can always bail, despite the little coal of feeling she's been carrying around in her chest ever since he kissed her outside the bar. She doesn't think too much about that if she can help it. It doesn't help anything, anyway. As if she needed things to be any more complicated than they already are.
Fucking feelings. Stupid.
Steph powers through the next two days at work then heads home after on friday, skipping happy hour with her friends to go shower and pick out her outfit and everything. She goes through most of her closet trying to decide on the perfect thing and even though she finally finds it, it doesn't even matter because when she gets to the hotel room (on time, naturally), there's a note on the door that says
TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF AND
LAY ON THE BED
FACE DOWN, ASS UP
THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU SHORTLY
And she knows she should turn around, right here, right now. She knows that it only gets weirder from here, and after this, she can't go back to not knowing what kind of weird actually means.
But still. Fucking feelings.
She can't help herself.
She goes in.
The hotel room is as nice as she expected—or at least, the parts of it she can see are. The lights are all off inside. Awesome. This isn't creepy at all. She's standing in some kind of foyer hallway whatever it's called, next to the bathroom door, shut tight but clearly occupied, a blade of orange light sluicing out from between the door and the floor. Steph suddenly feels very very exposed and alone but she's here and that's, I mean, this is happening, right? She's here. They're doing this. Fuck everything anyway.
Yeah, they're doing this.
She's doing this.
She strips all the way down, peeling off her carefully-curated slinky underthings and kicking her heels off to the side. She didn't notice it before, but the AC in here is going full-blast. They foyer-hallway-whatever tile is icy underneath her soles and she tiptoes deeper into the dark, completely naked, feeling her way to the bed, which she finally stumbles upon when she barks one shin against the pressboard frame. It hurts like a bitch in the amplified cold, but not wanting to shatter whatever illusion Doug's created here, she doesn't cry out, just clamps down on the inside of her cheek 'til she tastes blood. She chokes it back until the taste runs clear and hopes that that's the worst thing she has to swallow tonight.
Steph climbs onto the bed on all fours and wriggles toward the center and positions herself the way Doug's note said to. And then she waits. And she waits. Then she waits some more. She's not 100% on how long she's crouched like that, the AC vent over the bed goosebumping her bare ass, making her both feel kind of drowsy and like she's maybe sort of got to pee, but just as she's about to drift off to some kind of weird half-drone sleep, she hears the bathroom door click open. For a second, the whole room washes weird-orange and then Doug hits the lights and it's all dark everything. Steph lists and tilts, unmoored and disoriented.
He squeaks when he walks, like he's wearing galoshes or something. He doesn't say a singe word, not even when she tries to break the tension by making some stupid quip, Took you long enough or something. He just goes Sssshhhh and circles the bed, just outside of her already-limited field of vision. He might as well be invisible. Steph holds still, telling herself over and over, It's not weird, he's not weird, I can handle weird though, that's what I said and I meant it, this is normal, don't kinkshame, people are allowed to be into whatever they're really into and it doesn't necessarily make them bad people, it's just that he seemed so sweet and ordinary and I really liked him I mean like I really like him so please please don't let this be too fucked up not that I'm judging or anything.
The squeaking goes quiet and she loses track of him until she feels a hot puff of breath tickle between her cheeks and hears him go Hmmmmm.
There's a plastic unscrewing sound, like a jar being opened, and a second later there's a chilly smear of something plopped, yep, right, jesus christ, right on her asshole. He rubs it in with one finger, going in circles until he's apparently satisfied, then takes a step back and Steph hears something metal (oh my fucking god) clacking in his hand. A second later, a cold steel tongue slips right up her butt and she feels him working some mechanism, and centimeter by centimeter, she starts spreading open.
Okay, that's an old-school speculum. What the fuck. What the fucking fuck.
It's not like she isn't into butt stuff. Everybody's a little into butt stuff. She just wishes he'd've given her a little heads up. It would have been the polite thing to do. But, okay, whatever, she can roll with this for now.
She lays there and lets herself be opened up, so, so ready for this to be over already, and when he gets her to the right dilation, there's more rubber rustling and then, a few long seconds later, he starts shouting.
He starts shouting right into her asshole.
"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"
It takes Steph by surprise, and she wants to jump, but she feels anchored to the spot by medical-grade metal lodged firmly up her. "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!" he screams again, his strong, low voice reduced to a panicky screeee. She doesn't know if he's talking to her or not, but decides it has to be the latter when he immediately follows it up with:
"I NEVER WANTED TO PLAY BASEBALL IN THE FIRST PLACE!!"
Okay. Yeah. This is weird. Get me the fuck out of here. I'm done.
"YOU ALWAYS CHEAT AT SCRABBLE, YOU STUPID SLUT!!"
He goes on and on and on like this for another minute, and his screams are soon joined by a fleshy rustling that can only be Doug cranking himself off. Awesome. Things go pretty fast after that. Not long after that (honestly, not long at all, what the hell) Doug's spent and sprawled on the floor, gasping for air, but at least he's not barking about little league or board games or go-karts anymore. Steph has to collapse and ease the speculum out of her own ass and drops it wherever, she can't see in the dark. Gets off the bed and crosses to the foyer and dresses in the dark. Close enough. Doesn't even bother putting her shoes on at this point, hotels have lobbies for a reason.
She opens the door to leave and when the light from the hallway spills in she finally sees Soug, smiling at her from the floor, clad in a latex bondage approximation of a doctor's smock and nothing else.
"I'll call you, okay?" he says, the joy in his voice obvious and oozing and idiotic. Looking at him like that, the coal inside her chest sputters, then goes dark and cold, just a dumb lump of nothing. Steph leaves.
On the subway home, she matches on Tinder with a guy named Mike. He looks nice. Maybe they should go out and get a drink or something.
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