“You forgot your vibrator.”
“You left your vibrator in the drawer here,” my mother repeated.
“Oh. Um, shoot.” I awkwardly searched for an appropriate response.
“Do you want me to mail it to you?”
“No no, that’s okay. Mom, I’m… I’ve… uh, I’m good. Alright, I gotta go to work.”
“Okay I’ll keep it here for you then!”
“Uh, thanks mom.” I hung up, shuddered, and threw my phone in my bag. As I walked to work, I thought about which vibrator I could have left halfway around the world at my parents’ house. I was pretty sure I brought them all with me. I mostly successfully avoided the mental image of my mother holding it in her hands and turned my music up a little louder, carrying on with my regularly scheduled programming.
* * *
A few months later, I was back home for the summer. It was a few nights in my old room (now the guest room) before I remembered what I had left behind. I checked the nightstand drawer. I shut it again instantly. That’s not mine. It took my mind a few seconds to process what my eyes had just seen. I opened it again and sure enough, I saw what I thought I saw: a large, black dildo. Not black like any sort of skin tone – just black, like the color. At first, I didn’t look directly at it, as if making eye contact was somehow inappropriate. But after a minute, my initial shock faded and my curiosity got the better of me. I had to know more.
I picked it up. Girthy, I thought. I clicked the button on the bottom. Nothing. I twisted the end and opened it. Damn, batteries must be dead. Who still uses batteries, anyway? Then my mind went to work. Whose is this? My first thought was wait, am I sure it’s not mine? Admittedly, I have a growing collection of toys, but I was sure I had never seen this one before. Was I shopping online drunk again? No. That means I also would have had to have been drunk when it was delivered. While definitely possible, it seemed unlikely that I would forget something as… powerful as this. Mom? I know she sleeps in here sometimes when she can’t get Dad to stop snoring. This would certainly help put her to slee– but I was stepping dangerously close to a traumatizing thought so I quickly shoved the image off the cliff before I went over the edge with it.
It could be David’s. My brother was still in college so he spent more time at home these days than I did. But he has his own room, so why would he have put anything in here? Unless it was to mess with me. I reached for my phone to text him. “U up?” This was a recurring joke between us.
“No judgment, just wondering. Did you leave a dildo at Mom and Dad’s house?”
“Ha. What. No. What?”
“Just checking. Nm.”
“Wait what are you talking about?”
I sent him a picture of the beast. “Found this in my room. It’s not mine.”
“Jesus. Aggressive. Is it Mom’s? Ew.”
“She thought it was mine but now I’m confused. Did any of your friends ever stay here?”
“Taylor and Jamie have been over, but they haven’t spent the night.”
“Can you ask them if they had sex in my room?”
“Ha… Sure. What about Andy?”
The teenage neighbor did cat-sit when my parents were out of town, so I supposed this was possible.
“Good lord. So weird. Okay. will investigate and keep you posted.”
Now I was really intrigued. But before I could continue sleuthing, there was something I had to do first. I went to the kitchen. Are we the only family that keeps batteries in the fridge? I’ve never understood this. Was this one of those 1970’s housewife myths or does it really make them last longer? I had just grabbed two double-A's when I was suddenly snapped out of my reverie.
“Whatcha doin’, Honey?”
“Oh. Hey, Mom.” I tried to lower my heart rate. “Umm, just looking for a snack. Do we have any cheese?”
“Of course! Here let me make you something.” She reached for the fridge.
“No!” I said a little too emphatically. “I’m okay, I’ll just have some cheese and crackers.”
“Okay, just let me know if you need something else.”
“Thanks. Hey, Mommmm?” I tried to ease into it.
“You remember how you said I forgot my vibrator here?”
“Oh yeah, it’s in the nightstand!”
“No I know, but it’s not mine.”
“Are you sure it’s not yours?”
“No, it’s not mine. Mine is blue! Wanna see it?!”
“Ugh! No, Mom!”
“Oh, stop! It’s perfectly normal.”
“Okay well whose is it then?”
“I don't know! Let's see... Well, your aunt Carol spent a few nights here over Thanksgiving.”
“I’ll ask her!”
“Ew. What about Andy? Did he stay here when you and Dad were gone?”
“I mean, yeah, but do you really think that could be sweet little Andy’s?”
“I don't know! You don’t know what people are into.”
“I suppose. Oh! And your cousin Jess spent a night here when she was driving up north.”
“Jeez, it’s like Hotel Du Hansen in here. You should start charging people.”
“Oh you know we love hosting. It’s nice now that we have the extra room.”
“Jeez, thanks, Mom.”
“Oh, you know what I mean. This will always be your home.”
“I know…” I took a deep breath and ignored my queasy stomach at this next thought. I didn’t want to, but I had to ask. “It’s not… Dad’s… is it?”
“Well, I don’t think so. Steve?!”
“No. Mom. Shh. Jesus. You don’t have to ask him now,” I whisper-yelled.
“Oh don’t be so weird about it. I’m sure it’s not his but I’ll just go ask him. Did you find anything good to eat?”
“I’m not hungry anymore.”
Still clutching the batteries, I went back to my room. I laid down on the bed and texted my cousin, Jess.
“Hey, girl! You didn’t leave anything at my parents’ when you stayed here, did you?”
While I waited for her response, I started to put in the new batteries. As uncomfortable as I felt, I couldn’t help but think that I might as well at least get some use out of it. Besides, a month at home was no vacation. It required some assistance. Wine and edibles usually did the trick, but a physical release always helps alleviate some of the tension caused by my slightly overbearing and supremely Midwestern mother. Wait. I need to wash it first. I put Black Beauty in my hoodie pocket and crept down the hall to the bathroom. I felt like I was 16 again, sneaking home after curfew. The door to my parent’s room was cracked open and the light was on. The local news was blaring. Please don’t be Dad’s – my silent prayer to the god of self-love.
I set the mysterious member on the counter as I brushed my teeth and washed my face. It felt like one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, with alluring and unknowable power, its dark (or should I say black?) magic insidiously infesting my soul. Reluctantly, I washed it with soap and water. I felt a little weird stroking this thing, not knowing where it had been. Plus, I had to consider the non-zero chance that it had spent time with Aunt Carol. Another image to repress. And still, after this gentle wash, I couldn’t help but find myself a little turned on. I dabbed it dry with a towel and snuck back down the hall. I closed and locked the door. I laid down and put in the new batteries.
Not the horcrux. My phone. It was Jess.
“Um, no, I don’t think so! Why?”
“Oh okay, just some clothes here, but they must be my mom’s.”
“Yeah, not mine! How have you been? I miss you!”
I tossed my phone to the other side of the bed. Not a good time, Jess! I was becoming more agitated. I twisted the end closed and clicked the button. Nothing. I checked the batteries again. They were facing the right way. I tried again. Click. Nothing. Click, click. Damn.
Whatever feelings of excitement I was beginning to feel rapidly devolved into utter torment. Who in the hell left a broken vibrator here?! What kind of sick game is this? Is someone lying about it being theirs or are they messing with me?! I threw the evil monster back in the drawer, slammed it shut, and turned off the light. I faced the other direction and pulled the covers up to just under my nose. A few seconds or minutes of restlessness passed. Like a modern-day tell-tale sex toy, phantom vibrations began to grow louder in my head. I was pretty sure I could see the nightstand buzzing. Who am I kidding? I can’t sleep like this. I turned the light back on. I grabbed a wad of tissues and wrapped them around the demon dildo in the same way I would pick up a dead cockroach, wanting enough padding to not feel its hardness. The house now dark and asleep, I tiptoed down the hall and carefully opened the garage door. I shoved the fistful down into the bottom of the can and covered it with another bag of trash, hoping to suppress its spirit, if not suffocate it entirely.
Back in bed, I put in my headphones and turned up a murder mystery podcast. Anything would have been more peaceful than another thought about that evil silicone selfie stick. Sometime before the verdict, my mind was finally distracted enough to sleep.
Minutes or hours later, I awoke to the smell of bacon and the sound of my mother’s hospitality. How is she so energetic this early in the morning? I checked the drawer. Empty. Thank god. Perhaps I was being a bit dramatic. I took a deep breath, inhaling positivity, and exhaling phallic thoughts. I was ready to pretend the whole episode had never happened. Maybe it hadn’t, I tried to convince myself.
“Mornin’,” I grunted.
“Oh hi, Honey! Coffee?”
“Yes, please. Oh hi, Grandma!”
My grandmother lived a few houses down the street. She and my mom were always at each other’s place. Has no one ever heard of personal boundaries around here?
“Good morning, Sunshine! How did you sleep?”
“Fine,” I lied.
“Well, that’s good. It’s a nice bed.”
“Oh didn’t your mother tell you? I slept in your room for a few nights while they were replacing my floors. Comfy mattress, nice and dark. I slept better here than in my own bed!”
"What do you want for breakfast?" my oblivious mother sang.
"I'm not hungry."