This is Not a Situation in Which You Should Remain Calm
We held hands until the intersection. He dropped his first. I pulled my coat around me tight, for something to do, the buttons long gone. My breasts were sore and I shuddered. Don’t do that, he said. He pointed with his head to the ATM machine across the street from where we stood. Make it enough this time, he said. I hurried across the street. I heard him greet some men in the street. The keffiyehs they wore waved like flags in the wind. They spoke guttural and urgent. I could hear them over the vibrating traffic, cars negotiating difficult turns. I stood with my coat open and the wind ripping a gaping hole through me. I had the money in my hand. He waved off his friends and came to me. He stood outside the market. I chose some meat in a plastic package, pink tomatoes small and premature, grown somewhere far from where we found ourselves. There was a name for this in my language, but I forgot what it was. At home I fried the meat. I sliced the tomatoes, cut my finger and sucked the blood. He made a face, called me simple. Picked his teeth right in front of me and I thought of what my father might say. He stared at me, his face softening by degrees. I pulled down the neck of my blouse, revealing my bruised breasts. Purple and green and yellow flowers bloomed like a night flower. He set his toothpick down. It wasn’t me, he said. His coffee boiled over on the stove. I smelled the scorch. Breathed it in to my pulsating lungs. Salvaged what was left. Served it the way he’d become accustomed to; hot. A curl of lemon skin. Never sugar.
[an editor's favorite, 2012]
Michelle Reale is an academic librarian. Her fiction has been published in elimae, Word Riot, Monkeybicycle, PANK, Rumble, Dogzplot and other fine places.
Fantastic, beautiful, and haunting.
So sensual,Michelle! Love it!
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