Cole Davies is a writer from Jupiter, Florida. He just graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in film and is aspiring to be a full-time novelist after school.
Doesn’t Fit Right
Black, but flamboyant. It stares at him from across the room. Can’t be bigger than a youth large. The thought of it strangling his legs causes discomfort in his crotch region. Silk? The material could be silk.
“You ready yet honey?” Lili shouts from the bathroom.
Just a minute he yells back. They’re going to Mallory’s tonight. They used to date, now she’s best friends with his current.
She got them just for tonight. European style the salesman told her. Lili walks out of the bathroom. He’s still sitting in the chair in his underwear.
“You told me you liked them.”
He looks up. She’s wearing the tight red dress. Every girl has one.
“I do. I’m worried they’ll be too small.”
He doesn’t make eye contact.
“Try them on Archie.”
She walks over to the bed and picks the pants up. He takes them from her, and she takes his place in the bedside chair.
“I feel like I’m at a fashion show. Or a trial.”
“It’s more trial.” She says.
How can she not see the size issue? He thinks to himself. He looks over. She’s getting impatient. He puts the first leg in. Forces it. The fabric molds around his leg. He puts the second leg in. The waistline sits a few inches above his thigh.
“They might be too small.”
He swallows. Piano-man fingers wrap around the silk-like fabric of the waistline. Nothing hard or substantial in it. He pulls it up over his crotch and lets go. The fabric hardens like clay around his waist.
“They look good on you.”
The ends sit two inches above his ankles. He wants to reach into them and readjust his crotch, but the waist looks too tight to fit a hand.
“I need to see them.”
“We’re running late.”
He walks into the bathroom and turns the lights on. He looks like someone squeezed a plastic bag of water from the bottom. The pants made his body disproportionate. Everything aggressively contained below the waist.
She sits in the bedside chair, staring at a black stain on the carpet. She had plenty of time to take the pants back, no feelings would’ve been hurt.
“I can’t wear these to the party.” He says from the bathroom doorway.
She looks up from the stain. Her eyelids low, making them look all black. He makes eye contact.
“Put on something else then.” She gets up from the chair and heads into the living room. He looks down. She must see it too. He walks back into the bathroom. Looks at himself in the mirror covered with fingerprints and makeup. He twists his body so that he can see his ass in the pants.
“Not so bad in that department at least.”
Twists back. He’s not cut out for these pants. Perhaps a young European on his way to Ibiza would fit into the scenery, but not him, especially not in their social circle. What would Mallory think? Well who cares what she thinks. She’d probably think Lili has him by the balls. Everyone else would think it too. No one would say anything of course, they were polite.
He continues to contort his body in front of the mirror, examining each inch below his torso. Lili sits on a stool by the kitchen counter, staring at the clock on the microwave, watching each minute go by. She thinks about a boyfriend she had two years ago. Lazy, but he was never any drama. Funny how past romances come up when things aren’t going well, she thinks. Their flaws from the past evaporate, and you’re left with the memories that amplify where your current interest falls short.
He’s more twisted than a young David Byrne. Every angle of the pants has been seen. While the back did highlight the more positive features of his ass, he thought the shock factor of the front profile of the pants would be too much for him to bare when walking into the party. The nature of the fabric gave off a certain aura that he was not an insurance salesman, but a profession of a riskier nature. The length that the pants went down too also implied he was trying to hang on to whatever youth he had left, which was not much. Archie did not like to be the center of attention, and these pants did that in abundance.
She’s slumped over the marble counter when he walks into the kitchen.
“I’ve decided I can’t wear the pants, love. They’re not who I am. I should’ve been more honest yesterday.” It feels good to do the right thing he thinks to himself. A freedom comes with it.
Lili lifts her head up from the counter. He stands in the center of the living room, the light bleeding from the bedroom only uncovers half his face. A smug smile comes across the lightened half. Her gaze directly into his. She senses his discomfort and takes pride in it.
“We are 45 minutes late and you went through all that trouble to come out here and tell me that you decided.”
“Well yeah. I wanted to make the right decision.”
She puts her hands into her long, dirty blonde hair and messes up the hour she spent getting it perfect. Her elbows hit the countertop and she stares off into the void.
“I can leave them on if you really want me too.”
She snaps back off from the counter, her eyes filled with anger.
“Just take them off and let’s leave. Can you do that for me? Just do something. I just want to leave.”
Tears begin to cut through her makeup like razor blades. Her mascara bleeds. His freedom is gone, a wave of guilt buries him. He takes a step towards her, ready to coddle her.
“Just take them off.” She screams at him. “Take them off! Take them off! Take them off!”
“But. I’m just…”
“Go. I just want to go. Please stop.” Tears continue to cut in.
He backs up then turns around into the bedroom. His guilt washes away fast and he begins to paint himself as the victim. Why is she acting crazy? I only took so long because of her. Because I was concerned about her feelings. Fine, I’ll get changed quickly and make her happy.
He opens his closet. Archie wades through hangers looking for a pair of pants that match his button down. White with small black dots. Black slacks would do. White might be too much. What about dark blue? He holds up the dark blue over the pants he has on. Too much. Play it safe. He grabs the hangar with the black slacks on them.
She can barely see herself in the reflection of the microwave door, but it’s enough to see what damage has been done. Her face would get her into clown school, much less a party she thinks to herself. She’ll wash it all off, go au naturel. Make a statement. But she looked gorgeous just a minute ago. No acne scars or pale skin. An excitement had washed over her when she looked in the mirror. That was gone. All because of him. Why was he still in the room? How long does it take to change a pair of pants? Anger begins to bubble up once more. He must be messing with her. A Madonna. A knack for dating immature men.
He pulls the button again. It does not budge. Zipper. He yanks it. Nothing. He stands up. Puts his hands into his pocket and pulls down. The pants stay firm around his waist. Deep breath. He yanks down. Not the slightest. Frustration rises. Hands back in pockets. He contorts his body even more than from before. He’s flailing around the room with his hands in his pockets trying to get the pants off. A chicken with no head. She stands in the doorway, no longer the most ridiculous looking one in the apartment. He sees her, embarrassed, stops.
“I can’t get them off.”
“Did you try unbuttoning them?” She does not smile, and he sees that she genuinely believes he is an idiot.
“That happened to be my first idea if you can believe that.”
She walks over with a confidence that only a woman who has been drained of all her emotion can do. She pushes him onto the bed. A sexual instinct is triggered, and blood rushes down him. He sits on the edge of the bed and she can see the movement below.
“I’m trying to get them off. The last thing I want to do right now is…”
“It was a habitual reaction.” He says.
She raises her eyebrows and moves her soft fingers onto the button. Deep down he hopes she doesn’t get them off for he’ll feel like less of a man. A deep-rooted problem that stems from his mother having to open the pickle jar for him.
She pushes the button in. It doesn’t give. She places a firmer grip on the waistline and pushes her weight forward into the button. Nothing. He smiles. Relief. She notices. She takes a closer look at the button. It’s gold. Real gold. She thought it was fake when she bought them given the price. She gets in a squatting position. Both hands tightly gripped around the waistline. He’s nervous by the determination and possible anger she’s carrying herself with. She places her thumbs onto the button. With a spring off her back foot and her shoulder thrusting forward into her boyfriend, she puts all the weight onto the button. They both fall back onto the bed. Archie coughs, the shoulder having gone into his throat. She didn’t feel the button give. She looks down. The pants are still on.
Archie gains his breath back, he turns over to her, eye level on the bed.
“Any other ideas?”
She stares at a crack in the ceiling as she responds.
She gets up from the bed. His legs hang off the end. She moves her hands a few inches up from his feet and grabs the ends of the pants.
“Hold onto the bed.” She says.
“This won’t work.”
She does one violent tug, and he digs into the bedspread. She smiles. Now she pulls with all her strength, leaning back. His hands are dug deep into the bed, his knuckles white as he hangs on. Seconds feel like minutes, sweat drips down from her hair. He loses strength in his hands and lets go. She flies back into the wall, hitting the back of her head.
“Are you okay?”
“I’ve had enough of these. I’m just going to cut them open.”
“I got those for you as a gift and you want to cut them open?”
“What should I do then?”
She thinks for a moment. The back of her head throbs. She looks down. Her red dress is ruined by sweat. She looks farther down, black lines from her mascara. He grows impatient. He gets up from the bed.
“Let’s go to the hospital.” She says.
“Of course. I should’ve thought of calling their pants removal ward sooner.”
He walks out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She doesn’t move from her position, feeling like a puddle. He pulls out the chef’s knife from the block in the kitchen. His hands tighten around the cork handle. He looks down at the pants, planning. Not one inch of loose fabric. He needs to cut from the inside. A pit forms in his stomach. He looks at the knife. The thought of the blade navigating around his crotch lights up his nerves. Deep breath. He takes his left hand and pulls the waistline as hard as he can. The tiniest opening is formed. Just enough to fit the blade into. The cold steel hitting his bare thigh puts him on full alert. He leverages the blade so that the sharp end is touching the fabric. He’s fully absorbed in the moment, achieving a state of flow he hasn’t felt in some time. The rattle of the faulty air conditioner forms a deep hum, sending him into a meditative state. Lili sits in the other room; fantasizes about the party they’re missing. Fantasizes about Mallory and Archie having sex. He pushes the sharp end into the fabric. No headway. He places his hand on the marble countertop for leverage. The veins in his forearm bulge and his face turns red. The only thing in the world that matters to him is poking that first hole, however small, into those satanic pants. He’s ready to scream, having given every ounce of muscle into the push, when the sweat from his hands causes his hand to slip along his thigh. The sharp steel plunges into his skin and he yells.
Lili stands in the doorway. Archie sits on the wood floor, grabbing his thigh. He looks down to see if the blood has soaked through the pants. They still look brand new, but he can feel the blood slide down his leg until it gets to the ends of the pants, where it stops.
“Are you ready for the hospital now?” She says.
“No doctor is getting these off.”
“Well what do you want to do then Archie? We’ve already missed the party.”
“The party? You’re thinking about the party while I have a stab wound?”
“If you just would’ve been honest with me none of this would’ve happened.”
She might be right with that he thought to himself. Yet she is the one who bought these pants. He certainly won’t admit she’s right.
“I’m not the one who bought these things. Where do you get pants like this? What the fuck is this fabric?” He pulls up the material off his skin to show her. It doesn’t come up more than a couple centimeters so it’s difficult for him to make his point. Tears roll down Lili’s face. She’s surprised she has any left. She slams the bedroom door, leaving Archie there who feels, well, like a puddle.
The AC continues to hum. Lili cries into the pillow. Archie looks down at the pants, getting angry. He puts both hands on the waistline and begins to pull as hard as he can. His face turns cherry and sweat pours down. He screams when the pants refuse to give in once more. Lili doesn’t come out this time. He hears the sobbing but can’t empathize with her.
Would the pants ever come off? He realized it was an absurd thought to have but this whole night has been strange. His sharpest knife couldn’t force the fabric to give in the slightest. The button was easy to put on but now it was sewn shut. The pants were so tight that they couldn’t move more than an inch off his skin. In fact, they’d begun to feel tighter. He reaches down to pull the fabric from skin and this time he can’t pull it away.
He wouldn’t dare with Lili around, but he has a strong urge to cry. What if this current predicament is permanent? If he ever got married, he’d have to wear these pants to his wedding. If he wanted to vacation in the Caribbean, he’d have to swim around in them. If he wanted to have kids… he couldn’t have kids. He couldn’t have sex ever again. At the very least the zipper could work, yet it’s slammed shut. Now he did cry. There was no way their relationship could survive without sex. There was no way he could survive without it. She’d move on, find some other guy to be with, and he’d be stuck with the pants. What a fantastic way to see out the rest of your twenties, he thought.
The sobbing grows louder in the other room. He wonders if it’s for attention. Archie reaches up to the counter, just able to get his fingers around the edge, and pulls himself up. A sharp pain shoots up from his leg. He tries to take a step on it. It’s too much. He lifts the leg off the ground, putting all his weight onto the counter. The sobbing continues. She sounds hysterical. He moves himself along the kitchen counter. His right leg hovers off the ground as he hops, using the counter as a crutch. He reaches the end. Four feet lie between the end of the counter and the bedroom door.
Why am I the one walking on hot coals. I’m the victim. The muffled cries only grow louder. The apartment is filled with the noise. He imagines her face a mess. The pillow covered with makeup and mascara. A shell of herself. He takes a hop from the counter. He’s balanced on one foot with no support. Three feet to go. He takes another hop. The weight of his body shifts to one side and he has no choice but to use the injured leg. Pain shoots up. A tear rolls down his cheek. He hasn’t felt real pain in some time. No more hopping. He drags the leg until he’s at the door. She sounds like a maimed animal. A gentle knock. He opens the door.
The scene is how he imagined it. A rare occurrence. She’s star fished on the bed. Head still buried in the pillow. Makeup and mascara outline her head. The leg drags along the wood floor. He lifts it up and throws all his weight onto the bed. Thumping down next to her. Relief. Sniffles. The wailing stops. He rotates his body so that he faces the ceiling. The movement on the bed snaps her out of the trance and she does the same.
“I’m sorry.” She says.
He turns his head towards her. She looks at him from the corner of her eye. A tiny smile, with all the effort he can give. His gaze returns to the ceiling. They stare at the same crack. The distant hum of the AC provides the only ambiance.
“I can’t do this anymore.” He says.
“Is it the pants?”
“It’s the pants.”
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