The fucksleeve came in the mail on a Tuesday. Just like a real woman it took forever to come, he thought. There’s a joke you’ll never be able to tell in public.
As promised it was in discreet packaging. A surprisingly small box. Within this was a plastic egg that contained the fucksleeve. While small, it could be stretched, per the pamphlet, “to accommodate any size penis.” There were also hints on how to maximize sensation on the glans and frenulum; some artist had been paid to draw a hand in various positions stretching this piece of silicon over a healthy-sized member. It’s a living. Inside the thing’s orifice was a single use packet of lube, but he opted for Curel Intensive Care instead. Save the special stuff for a rainy day.
I’ll spare you the details. It was the first one he’d ever used and he came almost instantly, grudgingly pulling the device off of him and spraying into the sink to avoid a long cleaning process. Just like a real woman it makes you nut too fast, he thought. Just like a real woman it makes you pull out.
He’d bought the cheapest one that got good reviews. Miserly. He hadn’t read the fine print, that it was so cheap and came with a packet of lube because it was intended for a single use. At the bottom of the directions pamphlet were the words “After pleasuring, discard. Try more of our 8 different textures.” After about the fifth time it began to get grippy and loose, and no longer excited him. He had one last hurrah, with the single use dedicated lube packet, which made his penis smell like almonds. He emptied his seed in it, imagined he was launching an unwanted baby into fertile young loins. He then threw it out with the trash on top of some coffee grounds.
A few weeks later he was making chicken. He often cooked for dates, but this was a special dish he only made alone. A Vons Family Pak of 99 cents per pound chicken parts baked in Kraft barbecue sauce. His mother had always made it on his birthday, and now he would make it after a rough day at work. He would have been embarrassed if anyone saw. He liked people to think he was the type of person who seared locally caught fish with fresh rosemary. Then the doorbell rang. It was the Tenga® Easy Beat Egg™ Artificial Vagina, “Silky.”
She was crying. I’m sorry, she said. I just had a really bad date, I was in the neighborhood. I had to get away from him. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I should have called. But can I come in?
Sure, he said. He didn’t know what else to say. He’d been drinking wine. He was not prepared for his artificial vagina to come to life and stop by for dinner.
Thank you. It was raining outside; she was shivering a little. What are you making? It smells wonderful.
Oh, just some, uh… just some stupid shit. Something my mom used to make.
It smells wonderful.
Thanks. It’s not really, it’s uh… not fancy.
Can I have some?
He blanched for a second. He had never cooked for her, obviously. Only fucked her and rinsed her off and put her back in a drawer. He would never have even considered cooking this chicken for a guest, certainly not a date. But, so what if she thought it was stupid. Who stops by someone’s house unannounced. A guy who fucked you five times and threw you out. Who cared what she thought.
He served her. Then himself. She cut off a bite and blew on it. Tasted it.
Omigod… it’s soooo good!
It’s the best chicken I’ve ever had.
It’s just some stupid comfort food, my mom used to make it for my birthday.
Well your mother was wonderful.
They ate and listened to the rain. She finished her plate and asked for more. Girls never did that.
Listen, she said, I know this is imposing, but can I stay here tonight? I have a movie in my bag. I’ll stay out of your hair. I took the bus to my date and it’s raining and I don’t want to be alone.
It was out of nowhere but he didn’t know how to say no. The movie was Andrei Rublev by Tarkovsky, an epic about medieval Russia. There were sweeping battles and ancient vistas and they threw a horse down a flight of stairs. It was a masterpiece. He had never talked to her about movies, obviously. He hadn’t known she had such wonderful taste. They fell asleep on the couch together, her back warming his chest while the rain hissed in the leaves. In the morning she was gone.
A week later she called him. He didn’t recognize the number but picked up anyway. Hi, she said. I don’t want to be weird but I’m going to the desert this weekend and wanted to see if you’d come with me. I rented a room at this place where there’s a natural hot spring.
He had been living in Los Angeles for eight years and had never seen the desert. Work had wrecked him; it was Friday night. She might be crazy but why not.
In the morning they drove out to Desert Hot Springs in her convertible. He watched the hills roll by, the plants and rocks change, and was excited. New birds circled the highway. New flowers grew in the ditch. He made her pull over so he could take a picture with a cactus.
She had a hotel room in a little place that had hot mineral water, catered to German tourists. They sat in the giant tub, naked, as dusk fell over the desert and a roadrunner came up to drink from the pool. Crickets sounded and a coyote howled. A wind blew in from the mountains and shook a wall of bamboo behind them. He was the happiest he’d ever been in his life.
They stayed together for a year. He did not remove his OKCupid profile, and he did not list himself as being “in a relationship” with his former artificial vagina on facebook. He did not introduce her to his friends. But she came over three nights a week, or during the day when her air conditioning broke, and they laid around watching movies and drinking wine and talking. They camped in the mountains, cataloging the national forest’s twenty four different kinds of rodents. They didn’t fuck anymore. He cared about her too much. You have to want to hurt somebody to fuck them. They tried a few times and he would look in her eyes and it would make him laugh.
In the spring she had a doctor’s appointment. She called him after, crying. Said she needed to come over. She had cancer, she said. There were going to be treatments but she probably wasn’t going to make it. We are going to beat this, he said. You are going to beat this. No, I’m not, and I need you to do something for me. She had no one. No family. If I get to the point where I might live but wouldn’t be me anymore, she said, I need you to have them pull the plug. He didn’t know how he would ever do it, but, how could he say no.
He would drive her to chemo, to radiation; she would tell him stories in the car. About her childhood. Things she’d never told anybody but had to tell someone now, otherwise it would be like they never happened. She had been through a lot, it turned out. Men passing her around since she was a baby. The life of a fucksleeve. The radiation burned her skin and the drugs made her throw up all the time and she started slipping away. He would sit with her under the IV bag and hold her hand. She was slipping but she was still her; she could still make him laugh.
The drugs didn’t work and she needed surgery. He was in the waiting room reading the hospital’s copy of Reptile magazine, for domestic reptile enthusiasts. The featured review was of the Tomato Frog. They may look drab when young, but don’t be fooled: they explode into a vivid red-orange in adulthood. Especially the somewhat larger female. An engaging and active amphibian. He wondered what it would take for Reptile to give a bad review. He moved on to The Hunt for the Dark Phase Everglades Corn Snake and noticed his hands were shaking.
A doctor came out. There had been a complication. One of the tumors was near an artery and they had nicked it. She was on blood thinners and was bleeding out. She might never wake up. If she did, her brain had been deprived of oxygen. She would not be herself. I understand that her wish was not to be resuscitated. We have some papers you’ll need to sign. They let him hold her hand while she died, with that stupid machine beeping like on TV.
She had been sick for a long time, skinny and gray with sunken eyes and no eyebrows and most days she could barely talk. But that wasn’t how he remembered her, driving home and trying not to break down and cry in traffic. He remembered the desert. The hot spring. Kissing her in the warm water, the wind whipping the bamboo back and forth. It would hurt him forever, the way she left him, but he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
In conclusion: five stars.