Fields of Gravity
by Elizabeth Block
The scalding coffee snaked between her legs, climbed onto her clitoris, as if preying upon her sensations. She realized of all the kinds of pain she had experienced, a burned clit was new and unorganized. Initially, she felt only the pain between her legs, saw the redness there, she globbed and rubbed on aloe vera ointment.
To burn was a strong verb, like the American on his ranch, the American fighting bulls. The man verb. For a moment, she thought the burn had numbed her ability to feel. Had scorched her tenderness, so she was stuck with only muscular verbs, sharp short sentences, belying her prolonging of sexual tense.
On her 10th birthday, her father took her to an amusement park. The sun boiled through her tee shirt, while humidity peeled at her posture, drooped like a guilty child after wetting her bed. Dad’s hands handed her a lemon ice—her favorite—bringing her away from the morning’s smelly wet sheets and mommy’s pointed fingers, forgetting to wish her a happy birthday after seeing urine. She kissed the lemon ice, slurped it, shivered and reached for father’s finger, squeezing it; he smiled and lifted her up, twirling her in his arms.
Dad shows her the whole world.
When the coffee ran down her, she lost her mind for a moment and she bellowed out her diaphragm—a short sharp shock of a scream. She removed her pajamas and leapt to the bathroom to get a cold washcloth; she pranced to her bed, lying on her back with the cloth covering her inner thighs and her vulva.
During the moment when she lost her mind, she trailed off into the past somewhere, the past that was going nowhere so time died and our thoughts excite like a bad run on sentence with too many tenses that you will not even recognize the pacing and the pronouns and a grilled glossolalia smoking on my tongue.
“Please dad, I don’t want to go on this ride.”
“Oh darling, it will be so much fun, and you get to learn science.”
“Okay, well I guess, but I’m still scared.”
They walked, palm in sweaty palm, from the refreshment stand near the entrance of the park, past the Ferris wheel and the roller coaster. Father and daughter peered up to vocal roller coaster riders above, while they planted their feet on the concrete ground. Inch by inch they traveled, crossing Saturday afternoon lines of Midwesterners passing away their time on vast amusement park flat lands. They crossed over the cement paths to verdant groomed lawns, small patches left after concrete mutilation. A muddy blue lake prowled from a distance, the fantasy of leaving the heat and humidity behind. The wind, a monk in full lotus, said nothing. The sun hung, angry on his airy mountain, not a cloud to keep him company.
“After the ride, we’ll go to the lake, okay little princess?”
“Yes, yes, daddy.”
Oh no, what about her reservations at the Ritz Carlton. Hidden in the periwinkle silk down comforter cover, her portable phone slept, waiting for the alarm of her palms.
She picked up the phone and called the hotel, confirming her reservation for that same night, in her usual suite. She refused to let a little burn interfere with her date. After she rested, she rose and moved to her desk, turned on the computer, flipped through the new issue of her Stanford alumni magazine. She continued her research article (for which she was not only first author, but sole author), entitled, “The Lack of ‘Post’ in Post-Einsteinian Measurements of Gravity: Physics and the Death of Reality Laws and Computations.” After completing her first rough draft, she went to the tailor to pick up her petite, elegant 1920s style dress. She took her usual route from her Pacific Heights flat on Sacramento Street, to Nob Hill, where the Ritz and her man awaited her.
When she and her father arrived at the amusement park ride, she began to shake in fear.
“See, honey, there it is. The giant centrifuge.”
Three generations of physicists before her. It did not matter that she was a girl—the only child. Her father would teach her physics.
“That looks scary, do they lock us up in there?”
“Only to keep us safe.”
She began to whimper.
“Come on, my little one, it will be fun. You’ll see.”
“It looks like a big can of pop.”
“I guess you’re right, honey, a 20 feet by 20 feet metal can of cola, settled on a tripod bigger than your daddy.”
“Dad, are you sure it won’t hurt?”
“Come on, let’s stand in line, before it gets too long.”
I got in line for the Silly Sphere, the people and the motor screaming in unison. I heard the release of noise as the motor slowed, signaling the moment I would reckon with Einstein’s theory of gravitation, the great 20th century grandfather who knew that planetary coordinates, magnetic fields, were as false as the mascara on my eyelashes, unable to portray me as anything but a cheap version of myself when I dress up to fuck you. I was there, making my way into the ride of my life. I entered you through the narrow doorway of the giant pop can, holding your hand, father. The ride attendant formed us in a circle, ordering us to stand against the concave steel wall. We waited. The door shut, and we heard a voice from a microphone:
Welcome to our Silly Sphere. We will spin you giggly. But first, a reminder: keep your back and your hands to the wall—for maximum safety and fun. Everybody Ready?
My father looked at me and smiled, resting his hand over mine, what was he thinking, you would save me from the earth shaking, you would save me from denying the imprecise gravitational fields between planets. Gravitational fields can only be considered pseudo forces, unreal, unruly, unreliable, bad boys of the solar system, you little bad boy, Einstein, having screwed me too many times that my knees are so weak and I don’t know if I’m standing on you, on anything, but wanting him so badly.
When the Silly Sphere ride turned on, I gasped, we’re moving daddy, just hold tight, look down, I couldn’t look at him, I looked down as we accelerated—you cannot distinguish between forces of acceleration and forces of gravity—and the floor dropped beneath my feet. But the sphere circled, whshoooh—but not as fast as light—and I was stuck to the wall with daddy, flung there, my body plastered to the metal as we traveled round and round and round and round, until, daddy I’m slipping, daddy help me, you’re not slipping sweetie, the ride is slowing down, deceleration is countering the centrifugal force that stuck us up here, who cares, I’m scared and I feel dizzy.
I want to get out of you.
The ride stopped. I landed back on my feet, ran out the door, past all the people in line, found the nearest patch of grass, and puked everything out me.
She took the #1 bus down Sacramento past Mason Street, just below Vertigo—the tall apartment building which Alfred Hitchcock’s Madeleine would come and go—fussing with Scotty and her identity. She would run up that bastard of a hill, (burn rubbing between my legs, shit, the pain) scream my love for Scotty, see you tonight at 8:00, Scotty, just down the street, our favorite place, you tall well-tailored man. Then she would turn south on Mason Street past the Fairmont hotel. She would cross California Street, glance at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, skipping down California Street’s undulating slope, as she turned right at the Ritz Carleton.
Elegant enough to command respect, scantily clad enough to get what she wanted, she strolled into the lobby, thanking and tipping the doorman as he grabbed her overnight bag and opened the thick glass entrance. She walked to the mahogany front desk, where she greeted Mr. Fillitens, the concierge. “And how are you doing this lovely spring afternoon, Dr. Madeleine?” “Just Fine, thank you.”
“We’ve arranged for your regular suite, will you be joining us for tea and h’or d’ouevres this afternoon?”
“Why yes, Mr. Fillitens,” as she placed 5 crisp one hundred-dollar bills on his deep dark desk.
“And this is for you, Mr. Fillitens.” Madeleine added a brand new fifty-dollar note to the pile.
The clock struck 4:30. Tea time at the Ritz. Madeleine had been staring at herself for too long in the lobby mirror. She dragged herself away from the mirror, when she realized she needed to exfoliate her skin. She thought, how nice it would be find a smug, married woman dripping with her husband’s money, oh to take her to my suite, make her swell and quiver like she never never knew was possible, losing total faith in the wedding bed. These women flooded teatime at the Ritz. Sometimes she enjoyed their company.
A narrator intrudes on my first person all through the day, and she munches and crunches appetizers, and stares at a professional basketball player she recognizes from television. I have a few hours to kill before Scotty arrives, I want to take this basketball player up to my suite, dirty sex, you know, I want garrulous dizzy fucking. Future tense, not quite yet, until she gets him, it’s I wish I were—I wish I were in his arms, groins like a confession booth, slamming me against the wall, telling him all my sins, Jesus Christ he’s a God, he’s daddy, he’s mine.
And Madeleine made him hers. The seven feet tall man followed this five feet tall woman up to her luxury suite for a visit. The present tense jams with man verbs, like the basketball player’s penis, fellating Madeleine’s stretchy little void.
Madeleine, like so many women before her, cried out to the man, Scotty, oh, fuck me, fuck me silly circles, Scotty, oh. Sorry Hitchcock. We’re in no hurry, Mad, you sure, the tall man queried. I’ve got a condom, Madeleine insisted. She pulled a condom from the night table, next to where they lay together. Let’s fuck standing up, her aqua eyes drilled into his big brown eyes. Whatever you want, my lady. She tore apart the wrapper, taking the extra-large pearly white rubber to the tip of his circumcised deep brown penis—rolling it down with her left hand, while she squeezed his tight black testicles with her right hand.
He lifted her up off the bed, Madeleine straddling her legs around him, longing for his entrance.
Pale ivory white short skinny woman.
Ebony tall slender man.
Pearly hued condom covering black dick.
Two feet between them.
He eased his cock inside her, push it in me hard, push so I can get used to it, push, and—shhhhh, little lady, I’m gonna make you wanna come back for more, you weren’t used to this, a man talking with you during sex, I am the one who always talks, only the woman talks, the women talk to each other, the man shuts up, shuts me up—and he thrusts into me back and forth, and I’m feeling it rub against my burnt clit, but it’s a new sensation, and before I even realize he’s moved us to the wall and I’m spread out, exposed right in front of him, having the best sex of my life—
the girls sat, sitting around the mall, talking about how they were doing it with their fathers. I had nothing to say, age 15, I just quietly listened, one girl telling, even though it was painful, it was also a thrill, she’d had a secret with dad, and he made her feel good, like a true lady, and some of the girls agreed, but some got angry at her because they were afraid, they knew it was wrong, all I knew is my dad was the only one in the group that wasn’t doing it to me. And that made me feel mad. I wanted to have sex with my dad.
I’m going to turn you around, Mad; I’ll stay inside you, just relax, you’ll love it, and he was right. She loved being fucked from behind, daddy why don’t you fuck me like all the other girls’ fathers. Because it’s not right, he had said to me. You’ll understand when you get older.
The pro basketball player circles his dick inside her, round and round, spinning her silly, like the Silly Sphere that taught her laws of gravity.
Madeleine wasn’t finished speaking. I’m telling you. People always name brilliant women crazy. No woman has ever been called a genius, without spending her life diagnosed crazy, mad, strange, queer, and eccentric. Put behind bars. Everyone hates the brilliant woman, green fodder for the universe.
If we’ve really exceeded Einstein’s theories of gravitation, why does everything comes back to fuck—you cannot distinguish between forces of acceleration and forces of gravity—I can’t, you know this talking makes me want to smoke a cigarette, after sex, the cigarettes begin, the basket player leaves, she curls up in a ball on her bed, unable to move, his cock has pinned her there, the sweet vertigo of remembering, when she read her father’s journal entry: if only I could take my baby girl like she wants me too, she’s so divine,
I want to give her the world.