Basement Heart by Nova Fowl

Ruth wanted three-hundred pounds of flesh piled on top of her pelvis. She wanted suffocation of the genitals. Suffocation of the face. She was sick, so sick of all the talking. There was nothing wrong with Chad in the bedroom, nothing at all. Every fuck was the same pattern of contraction and relaxation, veins tightening and tendons flexing until everything collapsed and sex was over.

She stood naked in the bedroom doorway with her hip thrust and her breasts oiled over with Chad’s hair shine product. This was an attempt at sex, but a half-hearted one. It took more than her bare chest to challenge Chad’s libido, he had to be coerced.

“What’s up?” Chad said over his deltoid muscle. It sat taut and raised atop his shoulder bone. She knew these names because he told her. He pointed and said, this is what this is—tracing thick fingers along muscles and bones that were hard to find, that only surfaced when she punched a pillow or fucked him on top, her arms braced against the wall.

“Do you want to... you know?” Ruth said, careful to not be too direct. When she was, he flinched. She hated that. He barely looked up as he mumbled his excuse, (“Honey, you know I’m going go to the gym later,”) before he was re-immersed in the pages of Muscle Man magazine. A magazine where post-sexual men, ripped beyond repair, flexed their rigged arms, legs and abs, all to the male-viewers scrutiny and delight. “I heard steroids make your dick small,” she said, and pulled on a pair of jeans. Chad snorted.

“You’ve said that, babe. I don’t plan on doing steroids.” Ruth ripped up the zipper of her jeans and winced, a tuft of pubic hair caught in the teeth.

“I’m going downstairs to Starbucks,” she said. She hoped he would stop her from leaving, jump up and say, “Don’t you dare put that shirt on,” but he didn’t. They'd reached a point where nudity wasn’t a call for sex. Knocking into her bare breasts, Chad would say, “did I hurt you?” with the gentlest of expressions. She rarely saw him naked anymore, he was always strapping himself into compression shorts and heading to the gym to build up his thighs, his arms, his chest—ensuring any soft spots were hardened over. On the rare occasions that Ruth dragged him into the bedroom, she realized that even when he was erect, there was no contrast between that hard thing any other part of his body. It was like fucking a rock. Even his lips were firm. Chewy, like leather.

“No thanks,” he said, and picked up a book beside him. His arm muscles were pleasantly flaccid, Ruth noticed. The muscle hung like fat. She wished it would stay that way. But he licked a red forefinger and his arm flexed as he turned the page.

“I’ll be no time at all,” she said. She caught her overgrown toenail on the shag carpet, tripped into her rain boots, and hurried downstairs to Starbucks.

Starbucks was where Billy worked.

Billy. Billy with the fat face. With the thick fingers. With the chinless chin and the wide neck and the swollen breasts. Breasts undoubtedly as big as hers. He hunched over the register, leaning on a stool that she knew he’d demanded from the manager, and asked for her order.

“I’ll have the pumpkin spice tea. Is that a thing?”

“That’s not a thing,” he said. She imagined the vibrations of his deep voice tickling his genitals. She took a breath, cracked her knuckles.

“Then I’ll have the chai tea,” she said.

She waited for her order at the end of the bar, and thought up a scenario: A threesome with Billy and Chad? No. She imagined Billy’s gooey limbs thudding against a mattress. Maybe Chad would just watch. This was not a matter of needing a cuddle, this was a call from her loins. She removed Chad from the fantasy altogether, her thoughts suffocated by imagining her thighs closing in over Billy’s puckered eyes. She sat down with her drink at a rickety table and stared at him. She watched his pig fingers punch in numbers on the register. All the blood had seeped from her brain and pooled in her clitoris. She needed to fuck him, she knew it in the dungeons of her heart.


“Chad, do you want to have a threesome?” she said. She hopped up on the kitchen counter and watched him do push-ups on the floor. He pumped up and down, his lips grazing the shag carpet. She watched as his shoulder blades peaked and his spine held still between the rounded cliffs of his back muscle. She took a long sip from her tea, narrowed in on her boyfriend’s flushed face. “Following your pussy is as simple as following your cock,” her uncle used to say. “A woman's clit gets just as hard, let me tell you. Like a tiny penis.” Her uncle was a large, stationary man. Wherever he sat it looked like he'd been there for decades, gathering dust and bedsores.

Ruth slipped off the counter as her boyfriend popped off the floor. She pressed her tiny penis against the waistband of his sweats. She dragged a finger up his nature trail to his belly button, pulled out a nail full of lint, pretended to eat it.

“You're gross,” he said, pushing her face away. But she flipped under his hand, slid down his forearm and bit his tricep. “Ow!” he said. “I told you. You can’t keep doing that.” She bit down again, softly, with her lips. He shuddered.

“I’m sorry,” she said. She blinked up at him. She knew she was a pretty thing. She had the silky dark hair, the angular cheekbones, the blue eyes. She had matched her parts to those advertised in glossy magazines. She’d see a flat torso, a set of perky breasts and say to herself, yeah, I’ve got that. Men were simple that way, she thought. What they see is what they want. It just so happened that her body fit the current trend. She used to think she could grip any man by the cock and lead him to bed like a dog on a leash. But Chad was different. Chad would take this very personally. Chad would think that she was using him.

“You really want a threesome?” Hurt bled into his face.

“No,” she said. She put her hand on his thigh, let the sweat moisten her palm, and dug her fingers in.

“Good,” he said. Ruth felt deflated. But she was bored and wanted to feel something heavy pressed on top of her, so she groped him through his sweats, whispered, “Come on, sweetie” in his ear and they went to bed, despite her miniature erection being gone.

As he humped her, Ruth thought about a story she and her Uncle had heard on the radio about a female storeowner in Milwaukee, whose store was broken into by a male robber. The woman knocked the robber out, took him down to the basement and forced a cock-ring onto him. She raped him for two weeks until his penis was so raw that when she finally let him go he needed skin-graft surgery. She remembered how her Uncle had spat on the ground, called the woman a cunt. There was rage in his voice. Ruth liked that.

Right before Chad came, Ruth said, “Can I rape you?” He let out a noise that sounded like a moan and a scoff combined, and then emptied all over her belly. He kneeled over her, squinting at her through the darkness, and collapsed beside her.

Ruth scooped the white stuff off her pelvis and wiped it down his neck. “Ruth!” he said. He ran into the bathroom, arching back to ensure that none of it slid down his chest. She smiled, felt a sort of warm tingling between her legs, and touched it. It spread. When he came back in, she stopped.

“I’m going to the gym,” he said. Good, she thought.

Ruth waited for Chad to leave, then went down to Starbucks.

“Billy?” she said. “Want to have sex tonight?”

“What’s your name?” he said. “I’m sorry, we have so many customers and—”

“I’m Ruth. I live upstairs. I come in everyday,” she said.

“I have some closing chores.” He picked at his neck.

“Outside,” she said. “Five minutes.”

Outside she waited and pressed her face against the cold glass of the Starbucks window. She didn’t understand this pull, what was going to be so different about Billy’s penis? She already owned one, had pressed it inside herself not a half an hour ago, yet now she wanted another. She closed her eyes, imagined different genitalia in a lineup. Sure there were different bends and lengths, widths and colors—but they were all equally ugly and equally tempting.

She watched Billy as he swept the floor. He swung the broom back and forth, satisfied with the dust merely dissipating in the air. Not caring where it landed. He turned away and gave every corner the same swishy treatment, never used the dustpan once.

Ruth noticed women passing behind her on the sidewalk as she flattened her nose against the window. She smelled their expensive perfume, listened to the delicate clicking of their high-heels. Ruth kicked her shoe against the brick base of the building. These were the women Ruth hated. Women who took good care in advertising their bodies but flinched at the word cunt because they’d never taken a mirror to their own. Ruth opened her eyes—stared deep into the grey pits of her own reflection.

Billy stepped out.

“Come on,” she said, and tugged him by the sleeve up to her apartment.

Chad was gone. She wasn’t sure what she would have said to him, anyway. But the possible conversations that played in her head were all undercut with hatred. In the fluorescent light of their cramped kitchen, Ruth saw Billy for what he was—a whale. But a whale whose blubber couldn’t be extracted, whose body served no purpose except for her own. Ruth brought him into the bedroom and climbed on top of him. His moan sounded like he was drowning in his own spittle.

“Shut up,” she said. She pulled down his pants, snapped on a condom. Billy cleared his throat, said he was sorry. She paid no mind. No longer did he have a voice. No longer did he have a purpose but to get hard, and he could barely do that. She wished she had planned this out better. When Ruth couldn’t stick him inside of her, he offered her a pathetic palm-full of spit. She pushed his hand away.

“This is your clavicle,” she said, with sharp enunciation. She took his hand and guided it along the smooth ridge, which was buried under layers of mushy flesh. “Doesn’t that feel nice?” she said.

She dropped his hand and scooped up his rubbery breasts, massaged his elevated nipples, and stuck him in. When he came she took it and smeared it all over his face. He turned away when she was done, as if embarrassed for not turning away sooner. Ruth stroked his cheek, let her fingers linger at his fatty jugular, and pinched him, hard.

“It’s my turn,” she said. But Billy’s hands were busy fumbling with his black polo.

“How are you cold?” Ruth said.

Billy grunted.

“I need to get home, I have work tomorrow and—” he flipped his legs over the edge of the bed—Ruth cringed. It looked like sausages were packed under the loose skin of his stretch-marked thighs. She wanted to feel the bumps and see what happened when she squeezed the soft spots. She scuttled back on top of him, pushed him down by the shoulders, and crouched over his face. He didn’t protest. She gripped his head between her knees to make it a sure thing.

“Please?” she said. The slick pinch of nerves between her legs was so close to his lips—and why shouldn’t she get a turn? She felt her lust for him stronger than ever. She looked down at his quivering pale face. She saw her heart above him, beating between her thighs.