Chapter 1

The sun rises rude and intense and disregarding of a headache that presses dully with each heartbeat. I try to hide my face in the pillow but without the blinds drawn it is like trying to stay dry under a waterfall.

I surrender and go through the routine: coffee, shower, clothes sticking to a wet back. I pause to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Steam hazes my image, but I see a man who looks older than I remember, bruised under eyes that are dark and veiled with sleep. The jaw is set in a hard line. The mirror-man used to smile sometimes, sometimes growl, sometimes look playfully back, but more and more he looks like this man, tired and aging.

Chapter 2

The East Village was a different New York in those days. You’ve heard the stories, usually tinged with nostalgia, an irritant to anyone that spent time in a city that was dirty, dangerous, expensive and yes, glorious. In the mid-90’s the East Village was like a geologic phenomenon. Two great pressure plates were converging into a single stress fracture, known as Avenue A. I had a 200-foot square foot apartment on the front lines of that stress point; it was more expensive than I could afford, but was in Manhattan and it was all my own.

Chapter 3

I’m on top.

Between us is a fine layer of sweat. She is wet. Is always wet, in a way that makes my desire uncoil and want to explode out of me.

I change position, hooking my hands in the hinge of her knees and pushing them back. Our eyes meet before I let mine go slightly out of focus, leaning harder on the inside of her knees. There is resistance, almost imperceptible. A subtle pushback, a slight refusal, so small I’m not sure I feel it. I pause and unhook my hands, settling onto her body, less threatening, less invasive, pushing my desire back down a notch. I still feel the pressure of her legs against me, her inner thighs resisting me in a way that subtly subdues me.