Back to Issue Thirty-Nine

The Fall

Finalist for the 2021 Adroit Prize for Prose

  1. And so in process of time it happened that, in Jonathan’s fifteenth year – the year of interschool science quizzes, the year of Taylor Swift, the year of nostalgic evening walks, tears always at bay – a great perdition came upon him.
  2. It became the black year, the worst year, razor-abundant, decades-old sitcoms and Beach House and Taylor Swift abundant (a lot of off-key screaming to Taylor Swift) – the year of deep exhaustion, suicidal ideation, sad frightful sleep, sad awakenings, living not in his lifeless neighborhood but in music, in books, his true homes the nostalgic articulations of the teenage experience in Pure Heroine, in One Tree Hill, in Glee, in Heroes and The Matrix which were not really teen stuff but summoned his preadolescent wonder.
  3. It didn’t help that EVERYONE in his class got hot (except him, and okay, like five others too), and his father hit him for the first time since he was six because he said he thought the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act was hypocritical;
  4. the year of unvarying dinners (fries) and perpetual pancakes (breakfast), and furious forty second wanks in the cramped school toilet whispering, Oh fuck me – Oh let me fuck you – as he recalled the sports boys whose bulges flopped and dolloped about, as he imagined circle jerks with them, trepidatious teenage explorations, beating even more furiously to thoughts of their variously colored, variously scented penises in his mouth, along his butt, in his grasp; moaning, gasping, cumming brightly and then shamefully,
  5. ravaged by a blinding singular curiosity.
  6. Jonathan wanked and wanked, he watched videos of teenage boys wanking, and read erotica about high school friends wanking, and later blowing each other;
  7. Prior to brushing his teeth, preceding breakfast, upon it, as he wore his tie, after he had locked the door but not yet his zipper because he was late… during short break, long break, library period, during boring classes or too-exciting classes, just getting home, in the middle of a going-well or not-going-well assignment, after dinner, before bed, twice before bed if he didn’t exhaust the porn’s duration and the actors were especially sexy.
  8. And with novel techniques too; it distracted from the gloom!: it was an adventure, the greatest treasure hunt. One time he found an unused condom in the library and found he liked how heightened his imagination became, how closer-to-sex the post-orgasm clean-up routine; however all the pharmacies knew him and his father, so he went back to explorations of posture, of space, of delay and speed…
  9. Jonathan possessed these great expeditionary freedoms because his father traveled a lot and his younger brother was in a boarding school, although there would have been a thrill in evading them, a la Alexander Portnoy or any sitcom’s hormones-wracked teen boy[1].
  10. Online, Jonathan met a twenty-one year old guy who still wet the bed. He wanted to know more about this Bradley, to fall in love across time zones, but Bradley did not like to talk about personal stuff, and only brought up the bedwetting because Jonathan had.
  11. It was a rare uninhibited moment, Bradley said, I don’t like to talk about myself.
  12. I can’t wait to devour your Monster Cock, was Jonathan’s prudent response.
  13. And Bradley said unto Jonathan, You like that, eh, cum bitch? I will plow your throat with my fucking big cock and drench your face in the ocean of my nut.
  14. Suffice to say it was a doomed correspondence.
  15. Jonathan discovered Community. He discovered The War on Drugs. He discovered Elfriede Jelinek. He discovered Walt Whitman. As little as “touched himself” or “cocks” in a book and he’s hooked.
  16. He also conversed with a thirty-four year old man who was about to get married so his family would not know he was gay,
  17. and a sixteen year old from Benin who was about to go to boarding school where he’d thankfully be away from his girlfriend.
  18. Every one of them with some romantic female presence in their lives.
  19. Jonathan believed Taylor Swift was this for him.
  20. Often, he queued her before he started wanking, for when the headaches inevitably came.
  21. They were excruciating, the headaches. They were great depredations. They started sharply in the middle of his head like a hot, heavy siren, like someone kept trying to drive a nail through his brain but didn’t know where, so they just kept pushing, pushing, through several points, and then everywhere all at once.
  22. Holding his head didn’t help. Sometimes he couldn’t even hear anything but the pounding in his head and ears, unceasing. Sometimes he left a finger along the speakers so he could feel the vibration of Taylor Swift singing, or giving an interview, or welcoming her fans to her home.
  23. The headaches arrived like two seconds after he came, so while cumming, while he rolled his eyes and moaned as his cum pooled in tissue (despite: is his jet as sharp as porn actors’?), he already diminished the pleasure of it by thinking of a comfortable position for waiting out the pain.
  24. The pain made him manic in his search for its cessation, DM’ing Ezra Miller multiple times on Twitter after each rewatch of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, searching endlessly for John Green’s private email address to avoid traffic; crying endlessly, a haze of dejection constantly about him,
  25. the pain exacerbated by an inability to describe to anyone its amplitude and dimensions.
  26. The rationale behind repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result lies in the hope that finally a benevolent being would listen, that between action and result was a fickle love that decided when to allow them match, when not to,
  27. that nothing was ludicrous or impossible as long as one pleased this entity sufficiently.
  28. When Jonathan had his bouts of lust, before he started to strip, he would convince himself that if he could optimize the way he came, e.g. cumming into something efficient like a sock, on a bed, or even cumming nonchalantly: on his chest, on the bedsheets, instead of over the toilet bowl or some neater, more tasking option, he could dedicate those two seconds into feeling fully his ejaculation and thus diminish his seemingly endless need to wank again, as soon as the pain subsided. Like how a small patch of soil would never get flooded if you only poured like a cup of water every three hours.
  29. Although he considered that if he did not do these things the headaches would not come, i.e. that what seemed to be protective measures were in fact causative (only shortly before turning sixteen would he discover the cyclical[2]), so he stopped.
  30. Stopping did not ease things either, and he was tossed back into the rage, illogical turbulent lust, and he began again…
  31. Jonathan felt that he needed an outpour, a deluge, a great wank that would consume him in unprecedented pleasure;
  32. a satisfying wank.
  33. The wank to end all wanks.
  34. He felt each attempt at a wank was a search in darkness for a light that was all the more elusive the more he focused on it.
  35. He thought maybe only sex would free him, but ironically or hypocritically or obliquely God was the benevolent entity that was in on this whole wank thing;
  36. God did not like sex but wanted him to have one wholesome cum that would reorder his life,
  37. and he understood that God’s time was the best,
  38. that the headaches were teaching him something.
  39. He’d read a blog post that said wanking was not in itself immoral but porn and direct lust were bad so he examined himself: there were no women debased or children sold in the porn he liked to watch; he’d rather look at pictures of naked men than look at men having sex; he’d rather read about men having sex than look at pictures of naked men; he’d rather close his eyes and create a new man and proceed to violate this man fundamentally incapable of defilement;
  40. he was seeking, however he could, to optimize the situation so that fewer people were hurt, and it was up to God to waive things so that he stopped getting hurt.
  41. The first time hadn’t hurt.
  42. The more it hurt the better the first time felt.
  43. It had been maybe three hours of pure pleasure.
  44. He stopped doing it with Vaseline so he would reduce waste.
  45. He thought this was his punishment: the store of his seed and the fruit of his body resisted increase – the harvest of his unrighteousness. He bore it. He could not bear it: he read: Shower vs Grower; late Blooming. It was not his punishment – that was unscientific; if anything the frequent engorgement was beneficial. He read about Kegels, He bemoaned his inability to buy a pump. He flinched at injecting coconut oil. He took down the number of a man who sold herbal supplements but decided to wait until he was eighteen, if nothing was fixed.
  46. He went on online forums and was marveled that there were people who had at some point become entirely incapacitated of function on account of wanking and resolved to never get there. He had more sense than to become an addict, he thought to himself.
  47. He stopped visiting these forums because they made him horny, somehow.
  48. He could not imagine anyone else in his class wanking even though The Internet and movies said stuff like ‘98% of boys wank and the other 2% are lying’ – for one, they did not take frequent excuses to go to the nurse.
  49. The nurse remarked that his sweating and tremors were unusual, and maybe he needed to see a pastor?
  50. It was especially excruciating to go up the stairs to the nurse’s after his detours at the toilet.
  51. He had slumped in the toilet once, after accidentally brushing against Femi Ajayi’s penis: he’d wanked despite multiple blaring internal red lights and then he couldn’t stand, couldn’t buckle his trousers. He thought it sad, amidst all the pain, having to die in the school toilet. But then he thought of Moaning Myrtle and was able to smile a little.
  52. Jonathan grew very weary, and his countenance fell. He compulsively reread The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
  53. He felt like a breathing skeleton no one would ever find. When all the boys were around him, cracking jokes or insulting one another, he would feel hollow, their words passing through him, rushed and yet slow; so attuned was he that he could pick out the component sounds, feel the texture of each voice.
  54. When he made an error down a line of binomial expansions that cost him several marks, when he found himself eliminated at penultimate competitive levels, he told himself he’d never wank again,
  55. it was leaching his brain; but he dismissed this after he read some articles online.
  56. If he could define precisely and inarguably masturbation’s pernicious effects on himself then a desire to be a sparkling human would simply make him stop masturbating.
  57. But he was not getting blind, he was not losing his memory, there was no way of ascertaining the strength/ weakness of his sperm as it were. And he was done with the size thing – he was sure it was genes, although his father, his brother…
  58. After the headaches’ frequency started to diminish[3], he would spend a lot of time naked in front of his mirror loathing his body, cursing it; often thinking of the greatest harm, but then he would think of God, looking at him with such a sad face.
  59. It crushed his heart to have the devil deride God on his account. If he truly loved God why wasn’t he keeping his commandments? Why couldn’t he emulate Job? Jerking off was the only means by which he could feel good about anything. Otherwise, it hurt so much. He decided to start a ‘fast’ or a diet, with cheat days.
  60. It went well until it didn’t.
  61. He drew a calendar and hung it on his wall (‘freedom’ of solitude) and told himself if he let up he would punish himself with actual starvation.
  62. Of course at some point he believed he would survive starvation but could not possibly not …
  63. He starved and wanked and starved and wanked which made the fainting and headaches more intense.
  64. Then when he thought he could not continue to starve because he was getting frail he began to rent his skin.
  65. He cried and cut his innermost thigh and cried and prayed to God.
  66. He felt himself tangle, within.
  67. He sought out leaders in the church none of whom sufficed. He thought in his heart: if I could tell one person, only one person, then I’d be redeemed.
  68. He dreamed of poly-fenestrations of his pee-hole, grotesque phallic hyperemia.
  69. Something ordinary like the smell of calamine lotion was enough to get him horny.
  70. There was also his having to hide the fact that he liked boys. Which, although a secondary torment, disturbed him a great deal. In school, when quizzed, he started to say stupid things like he only wanted to fuck slim, white women. Like Taylor Swift. Hence the general disinterest.
  71. Apologizing quietly to her in his head.
  72. This complicated things because he could not be vulgar or reveal concupiscence towards girls because those were sins too and so how could he prove he was straight without exhibiting it tangibly?
  73. Eureka!: he wrote lesbian erotica for his companions, an outpouring of carnal knowledge ft. Nicki Minaj. It was profane and evil communication but it had no real life object and was not as bad as Lies or Concupiscence.
  74. In their words of wisdom and encouragement they suggested he open Wattpad.
  75. (It was the year of Wattpad.)
  76. After a sermon one Sunday he realized he had made Taylor Swift a God and had to purge himself of her.
  77. It was gruesome and took a lot from him (if he even started to hum Romeo save me, he would have to clutch his head and scream the words out.)
  78. Which showed the cankerous extent of his idolatry, he thought.
  79. In this way Jonathan diminished in mental wellbeing and stature but grew in favor with his peers and elders.
  80. He got two nice letters for his birthday, and when he got back home the small chocolate cake he’d gotten for himself was filled with ants. And he wanked and watched Everybody Hates Chris. And then it was no longer his birthday.
  81. Around Christmas, Femi Ajayi started to hang out more often with Jonathan, requesting for installments in his stories and soon, coming over to study. Femi lived nearby and his mother knew Jonathan’s father.
  82. Jonathan tried to ask Femi Ajayi if he wanked too. But the words caught in his throat.
  83. One Saturday afternoon after reading, Femi Ajayi turned and immediately started to snore. It was very calm and bright and one could feel the languor of a Saturday afternoon.
  84. Convinced Femi Ajayi was faking sleep, Jonathan kissed him.
  85. He was risking himself, he thought, but if that was the barter for truth, then he was willing to pay it. He would broach what Femi could not. For if Femi was gay too, then he was equally terrified of revealing it, and someone had to make the bold move.
  86. He was so sure; he had seen this happen in books and porn.
  87. Happiness was within reach.
  88. Perhaps a kiss could be explained he thought, so he moved his hands lower.
  89. Femi jerked and arose. And slapped Jonathan.
  90. What are you doing? He asked Jonathan. Femi was large and his voice heavy.
  91. Sorry, sorry, Jonathan thought and said. “I thought –”
  92. Femi slapped him twice more. People were suspecting you but I did not want to believe it, Femi said.
  93. Please don’t tell anyone, Jonathan replied. Please. I’ll do anything.
  94. From now on you’ll be doing all my assignments, Femi said.
  95. Yes, Jonathan agreed.
  96. And when WAEC comes you will find a way to send answer to me.
  97. Yes, Jonathan agreed. Femi made a list of demands Jonathan agreed to, without really considering. They could not be worse than death. He had such a striking sense, then, of just how perilous his reality was, a terror far greater than his private afflictions.
  98. Homo, Femi hissed, packing his things.
  99. At the end of the term there was a solitary red stain on Jonathan’s report sheet, meek yet glaring amidst all the blue.
  100. When he got back home he cried and listened to Shake It Off over and over, trying to be happy, trying to be happy.
  101. He cried when he realized it was working. He cried knowing some harm would come to him later on for this indulgence; he listened to 1989 and he cried.
  102. So: fuck it: he wanked.
  103. Oh, he wanked,
  104. and wanked,
  105. and wanked,
  106. and he came a mighty man!
  107. And he fell



[1] Exemplar: Jean-Luc Bilodeau of ‘Kyle XY’ – and this was the year of the fevered realization of Jean-Luc Bilodeau’s hotness, which is to say, yes, Jonathan also w***** to J-L B, who got impossibly hotter in Baby Daddy.

[2] ‘Something is malignantly addictive if (1) it causes real problems for the addict and (2) it offers itself as a relief from the very problems it causes.’ David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.

[3] Someone on Quora suggested to be conscious of proper breathing.


David Emeka is a writer whose work explores themes of loneliness, mental health, family, morality, queer community and joy. He is of many passions and curiosities. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review, and Epiphany Magazine. He is working on a coming-of-age novel.

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