Fiction: Deena ElGenaidi’s “Attached”

Alison had gotten attached and couldn’t move, her body sticky, like someone had super glued her to the bed, to the sheets that smelled of laundry detergent, smelled like him. She tried to sit up but felt like if she lifted her body, her skin might peel right off, sticking to the sheets, leaving her back bloody and bare, bone showing underneath. Still, she had to leave, had to get out, and so she would take the risk, even if it meant leaving his apartment as a skeleton.

She focused. She could push down with one hand, lift herself up that way. She had to raise her arm first, and she did, slowly, but it felt like ripping a band-aid, and she screamed.  Had he heard her? Would he come back into the room? She knew once he returned she couldn’t trust herself to leave. She’d fall back into the bed, into the sheets, growing even more attached, more sticky, until the invisible syrup drowned her. She looked down at her arm and saw that all the hairs had been pulled off, stuck now to the sheets. Her skin was red but luckily had not peeled. She could do this.

Alison heard the toilet flush. He was in the bathroom. She didn’t have much time. She’d heard of this from her friends—friends who’d gotten attached, friends who she once thought weak. And now here she was, unable to move, a syrupy stickiness keeping her under his covers, pulling her down as if by gravity—invisible, scentless, but there nonetheless.

She placed the palm of her one free arm onto the bed and pushed, letting out a loud groan as she lifted her head, the stickiness pulling at her hair. She felt the strands rip from her scalp, a burning sensation underneath making her suddenly lightheaded, but this was progress. She could do this. She raised her body and groaned as her bare back rose from the bed. She pulled the sheets from her skin and looked down, seeing streaks of red and peeled skin left behind. Alison took a deep breath. The cold, air conditioned air on her back stung, but she had to keep going. She managed to sit up entirely, her back no longer glued to the mattress, to the grey, cotton sheets now stained in her blood.

Her legs were next. She heard the sink turn on in the bathroom and knew she was running out of time. She needed to get up, to get her clothes on, to get moving. She tried twisting her body, maneuvering her legs off the bed, but she tore the sheets, bits of grey fabric clinging to her flesh, her skin ripping as it twisted, sticking to the mattress, refusing to leave with the rest of her. She placed her other palm onto the sheets to balance. Luckily, she’d just shaved her legs the day before, so the hairs weren’t being pulled, but instead, her skin stung like fire as she removed one leg at a time and turned her body so that her feet were on the floor. She didn’t know anymore how much blood she’d lost, though the sheets remained splotched in red. In that moment, she realized that the floor, too, was made of glue or gum or something else entirely because she couldn’t see what it was, exactly. Everything looked the same as always. The hardwood floors, the nondescript furniture, but somehow, everything had changed.

She couldn’t move her feet, so she slowly lifted her palms from the bed. Again, the skin tore. Alison looked down at her bloody palm and tried not to cry. It would have been easier to stay put, to let herself get attached, but she knew if she stayed, the glue would only get stickier, thicker.

She could reach her shirt. She bent down and grabbed it off the floor. It didn’t stick. So it was her, not the floor. She quickly put the shirt on as she heard the sink shut off. The fabric clung to her body, but Alison couldn’t understand where this invisible syrup seeped from, her body looking fairly normal, albeit bloodier and sweatier.

She heard the bathroom door open. He would be back in here at any moment. How would she explain this? How would she tell him that she couldn’t move? That she was stuck? She couldn’t let him know she’d gotten attached. She should have been more careful, created more distance. She was stronger than this. Only the weak grew attached.

Alison would stand. She knew she could manage. She placed her palms back onto the bed and pushed, lifting herself up and nearly losing her balance as her feet refused to move with her. But she was up. She was standing. She looked down at her bare feet and slowly lifted one at a time, grimacing as bits of skin tore off, sticking to the hardwood floors.

At that moment, she heard the footsteps coming down the hallway. The bedroom door began to open. She had run out of time, and there he was, standing in the doorway in sweatpants, and there Alison was, her legs awkwardly placed on the floor, standing in her t-shirt and underwear, skin scraped off and dripping in her own blood.

 

 

***

Deena ElGenaidi is a writer living in Philadelphia. She graduated from Rutgers Camden’s MFA program in 2016 and has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic. Deena has taught English at a number of local colleges as well as in Morocco and Peru. She lives with her cat, Sasha, named after Sasha Obama, and writes primarily fiction.

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