The first time I put the mic near my bed and turned on the recorder without telling her. The next morning I crept to my desk while she was asleep, converted the file to MP4a format and played it over my stereo speakers to wake her up. Of course Brianne enjoyed this. In fact we both did. After a few minutes I turned the recorder on again and we fucked to the sound of ourselves fucking. Later, I checked my heart-rate monitor and discovered that my pulse had maxed out at 159 bpm near the point of climax, a significant increase over the norm. Unfortunately, because two variables had changed during that particular orgasm (the unique soundtrack and the fact that, for the first time, she allowed me to come on her face) I had no means of formulating an explanation for the anomaly. Nevertheless, I grew curious about the effect that our prior fucks had on our present ones in terms of quantifiable physical excitement. Therefore, I asked Brianne to wear the heart-rate monitor, only, she insisted she didn’t have a heart. Despite many subsequent attempts, I failed to gather any evidence to either substantiate or disprove that claim. Brianne was surprisingly adept at detecting a ruse. For instance, she immediately knew when a seemingly affectionate gesture was actually a camouflaged effort to probe her inner-wrist for that particular vein. And though she enjoyed being choked during sex, often teetering on the edge of consciousness for moments at a time, she somehow managed to pull herself back just long enough to sink her teeth into my forearm whenever my fingertips strayed too close to the jugular.

Like all relationships, ours was confined by certain boundaries. We established them before it began. 1) Nothing normal. 2) No regrets. 3) No shame. 4) No dishonesty. These seemed like simple, attainable goals. We shared an interest in exploring an interior wilderness of sorts. In a way that cannot be explained with words, because it is the antithesis of words, our inner-needs were deeply compatible. Initially, this helped us to eliminate verbal communication from our affair, except as a tool by which our meetings could be arranged, and as a secondary method of expressing pleasure or displeasure during sex. But after that morning, we began to communicate more frequently during sex, as it became our habit to fuck to the sound of us fucking. Weeks passed. I upgraded and multiplied my stereo speakers, installing two satellites on opposing sides of the headboard of my bed. We refined our system, analyzing the acoustics of my apartment in order to determine the ideal mic placement and constructing a small shelf there, onto which the recorder was placed. Meanwhile, with each successive session, the recording itself grew more and more complex. That first morning, our respective moans rose and fell as expected, uttered somewhat in unison and separated by predictable lulls between peaks of pleasure. But, the third time, as we fucked to the sound of ourselves fucking to the sound of ourselves fucking, our moans formed a chorus of voices, six in all, that were intrinsically harmonious, since they were all ours. By the third week, we had fucked 47 times. The recording had transformed into a cacophony of groans, screams, shrieks, slaps, sucking sounds and incomprehensible words. Yet certain phrases suddenly pronounced themselves, uttered in split seconds during which all other sounds coincidentally fell off. “Meat and potatoes,” Brianne yells at 1:37:23. “Now that it’s stopped,” is my voice at 38:51. “Oh my God,” one of us says at 54:12. For me, these isolated declarations had a disconcerting effect, briefly wrenching me away from the animalistic event and reconnecting me to the dreaded world of words.

It is that same world that I inhabit now. Yet I routinely think back to Brianne. I listen to the final record, a 2:34:05 track that reflects 89 versions of our encounters, and contemplate the discussion that terminated our affair. Painfully, it was also recorded and commences at 2:27:05. Brianne confesses her concern that a tint of redundancy is seeping into our relationship, and wonders whether this violates its first rule. There is a certain panic in my voice as I respond that this relationship could never be normal. Brianne is calmly, coolly confident as she informs me that I have just violated the fourth rule by lying to her. I retract my claim, and try to talk my way out of it, but Brianne, disgusted now, accuses me of having violated the second rule, by regretting my previous statement. I do not respond but from this silence, it is not complicated to deduce that I am also violating the third rule. There is the sound of footsteps, the rustling of items I know to have been blankets and clothing, footsteps, the clinking of a belt buckle being locked and then the jangle of keys. After that, my front door opens and closes and at 2:31:44 she is gone. I have often tried to determine what I did during the next 2:21, before shutting off the recorder, however, the silence is pure and my memory incomplete. I know, from other records, that my heart-rate was approximately 92 bpm, however, though slightly elevated, this could easily correspond to any number of relatively silent activities. Was I reading a book? Was I folding my sheets? Was I asleep? Were my eyes wet with tears? And although I like to imagine that I wasn’t even there, that I had followed her outside, down the stairs, to the street, and fought for this thing of ours, I know that is also not true, since at 2:34:01 the wooden floor groans under the weight of my foot, and I can hear myself release a sigh of resignation, just before something muffles the microphone and the recording is concluded.

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