“I knew you were a Gemini as soon as I met you,” he says. “Geminis are the twins. Geminis run hot and cold. Geminis are a tease,” he tells me. “You, Miranda, are a tease.” He takes a step forward, his fists clenched, knuckles white.
He and I stand in the kitchen of his shitty, dimly lit apartment that feels like a tomb. We have been here before. This is one of his tests. I know it, and so does he. But he likes to pretend that this is the first time, as though he hasn’t tried to shove me into a tiny box before now. As though he hasn’t tried to diagnosis my specific brand of woman.
He has a thing for mythology. Sometimes he calls me Eve. Other times Pandora. Lillith. Mary. Circe. Persephone. When his belly is full of beer and he sits in his reclining chair in the living room, gaze soft, feet propped, he sees me differently, and for that moment I am Aphrodite.
Today, I am something else. Today, a myth doesn’t define me well enough for him. Today, there is too much of me. I exist within and without of the box he believes I should fit into, so he is testing my loyalty. My servitude. I am a bird and he is my cage.
He eyes me, expectant, with a hint of impatience. He believes himself to be the master of my universe. An unfamiliar sensation blooms in my chest, tingling and rabid. I feel it grow, rising through my lungs and throat. I don’t want to be caged or confined, it says. Whittled down to an archetype set a millennium ago by man. I don’t want to submit anymore or apologize for taking up space. For being female. Today, it says, I will allow myself to be infinite.
My palms sweat and my mouth is dry. I lick my lips before speaking. “Geminis are the Madonna and the whore in one woman. The screaming and the mute. The bold and the trembling. Beast and bride. Careful,” I say. I take a step toward him, my chin tipped forward so he can meet my gaze. The stink of beer and ego pours from him. “You never know which side of me you’re going to get.”
He scoffs at this, flecks of spit dribbling on his unshaved chin. Yet his body moves away from me, his shoulders and chest contracting in space. It’s slight, no more than a soft breeze whispering to leaves in a tree. But it’s there. I see it. I take notice of the veins by his eyes flexing. His wordless lips pressing into a thin line. I will use this to temper his urges to slap me across the face or to force my body down onto the kitchen counter, entering without an invitation. Entering with spit and a rough thrust. I will use this to break the cage he’s built around me.
Christina Rosso is a writer and bookstore owner living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and two rescue pups. Her debut collection, SHE IS A BEAST, is forthcoming from APEP Publications. Her writing has been featured in FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, Digging Through the Fat, Ellipsis Zine, and more. Visit http://christina-rosso.com or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.