I always say good-bye, and stay: A Micro Love Story

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I don’t call. I keep away. A silence grows between us.  The shadow darkens. The sky is ashen. It turns opaque, inert. Last cigarette. (Artwork: Bula Pelo ya Hao II/ Neo Matloga/ Stevenson)
I don’t call. I keep away. A silence grows between us. The shadow darkens. The sky is ashen. It turns opaque, inert. Last cigarette. (Artwork: Bula Pelo ya Hao II/ Neo Matloga/ Stevenson)

Small love. Big love. Skinny love. Toni Morrison’s “love is or love ain’t, thin love ain’t love at all”. Early in the morning love. Love and honour your parents love. Love at the ends of its tether. “I can’t do this anymore” love. Here Stacey Hardy considers being distanced from a lover.

WARNING: This article contains adult content, strong language and depictions of nudity and acts of sex.


1. Don’t pick up when he phones.  

2. Pull your hand away from his. Make a balled-up fist. Clench so hard that it hurts.  

3. Sharpen bones: Clavicles, knee caps, knuckles.  

4. Bind your feet.  

5. Wear granny panties, the bra with three clasps.  

6. Guard your soft parts: the gums and the hollows of your back and the insides of your thigh.  

7. Close the spaces between arms, legs.  

8. Don’t get wet when he touches your chest, fingers skirting nipple, squeezing. When his hand slides downwards tracing an inlet from heart to belly button.  

9. Swallow your spit.  

10. Push your legs together. Lock knees in position. Trap his fingers, hold them.  

11. Throttle the low moan in your throat. Choke on it.  

12. Bite down hard, keep the teeth of your zipper gritted.  

13. Make your clit small, a pea, a naartjie pip. Hide it in the folds of your labia. Find a tight spot. Safeguard it with your cunt hairs. Wash them with sunlight soap– the green bar—so they are cutting, sharp as razor wire. Plait them into jungles. Populate the jungles with lions and tigers.  

14. Lay traps: trip traps and whip traps and punji sticks and bamboo whips and grenade traps and cartridge traps.   

I don’t call. I keep away. A silence grows between us.  The shadow darkens. The sky is ashen. It turns opaque, inert. Last cigarette. I smoke it, knowing once it’s finished I will need to go out to buy more. Knowing if I go I will call him. I dress without showering. My hair is dirty, it clings to my forehead. I tell myself in this state I won’t call. I won’t. I switch off all the lights before I exit, close the door and lock it.  

I always say good-bye, and stay. Always, it starts over.  

The headlight cut a path through the darkness. How beautiful he looks when he laughs, head back, eyes glinting. We stop outside his place. The street is quiet, empty. The lights make shadows through the trees above us. His laugh rises. The shadows dance. I am laughing too, light-headed and giggling. It turns serious so quickly.

He turns, his head, his mouth is on my neck, my skin. Just his breathing, his breath. Its heat envelopes me. Blood is racing through my body. I feel hot and my breath falters. I hold it because I want the moment to last, to stretch on and on. Then his lips are on mine, tongue parting them. We are kissing, soft then harder. Penetrating me, probing. Going there, almost going there—the moment in which the body takes over, when you become hands and mouth and skin and meat and blood and tendons stretched beyond their limit, arched and gripping. The moment after which there is no turning back. It is me that breaks it. I back away suddenly. Turn and sit burning and shaking until I re-enter my body. Say, I'm sorry it’s just...  

I lie in bed and masturbate, feel nothing, just the mechanical movement of my finger, a jerky up and down motion. The orgasm takes me by surprise, it is so sudden. There is no build up, no wetness, nothing then suddenly waves of contractions coming in regular spasms, each starting with a high rise, shuddering into a slow pulsation. I throw my head back, shaking it, eyes fading, squeezing legs and thighs around my wrist, hugging my cunt, my whole body now rocking like I’m trying to lull something, contain it, as if an animal is moving inside me. I feel it slip down, out of the hole.

I’m scared that if the animal gets out, I will never be able to stop it, stop it coming. I imagine it is coming for him, hunting him down, small wet hungry. I pitch my eyes shut, clasp my cunt, the empty space where it used to be. Sit like that for a long time.  My jeans are down to my knees and I pull them up slowly. I fasten the button over the emptiness in my belly. I hope the animal has hunted and found him. Then I hope it hasn’t. I hope it will come back. Then that it won’t. I like the empty feeling. My legs below me are rigid, unsteady but my head feels light, clear of fear and the desire that brings it.   



Stacy Hardy is a writer, teacher, and researcher working between Egypt and South Africa. Since 2008, she has worked as a researcher, editor and Associate Editor at the Pan-African journal Chimurenga. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pocko Times (UK), Ctheory (Canada), Bengal Lights (Bangladesh), Black Warrior Review (USA), Evergreen Review (USA), Drunken Boat (USA), Joyland (USA), Black Sun Lit (USA), New Orleans Review (USA) and, of course, Chimurenga. Several of her short stories have been published in books, literary anthologies, monographs, and catalogues, and a collection of her short fiction, Because the Night was published by Pocko Books, London, in 2015. She is involved in the production of an ongoing series of multimedia works in collaboration with Angolan composer, performer, and instrument designer, Victor Gama, and is currently working on an experimental performance piece, titled Museum of Lungs together with Egyptian director Laila Soliman as well as musicians Neo Muyanga (SA) and Nancy Mounir (Egypt).

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