When I kissed her, it was like the first time you lick a battery and the electricity rides across your tongue, leaving the aftertaste of acid and slightly burned flesh tingling where the metal touched. It’s not something you really ever forget. Not that she tasted like acid. I didn’t even taste her. I smelled her. It’s kind of creepy but hard not to when I had my nose buried in her hair. She smelled sweet, like ripe fruit. It was probably just her shampoo.
The lack of stars that night was disappointing. It made things too dark and things in the dark always seem further away than they really are. That was probably for the better, looking back in retrospect. I still wanted to be as close to her as possible that night, even though she spent all that summer trying to put on a tough every time I caught her staring at me, giving me the eye. I saw the smoke signals she sent up from her teenaged tribe, but they were contradictory. She would send up a heart and a skull repeatedly every time I saw her. I only chose to interpret half of them. I got enough to know it was better for me to keep my distance that skyless night.
Dont even look at me if youre not going to focus on my face for more than five seconds your eyes flittering from mine running down my shirt and back up again thinking their theft hasnt been noticed happens all the time when guys walk by im use to it their eyes never stand still always back and forth from my tits to my ass and quick back up to my eyes he even did it at first but he got better as time went on didnt really bother me either I ignore most guys who do it but youre not allowed you just think youre the shit so hot a ladies man I feel so sorry for any girl who falls for your shit and your supposedly pretty face your eyes don’t even match your mouth your lips are too round and wet theyre like a girls your eyes look like a dumb fishs you had the nerve to think youre the greatest ever when you first started here but you suck compared to him he wasnt the most hansom person in the world but he was a lot better than you his eyes and mouth were like a cuttle fish in sand they went together like thunder and lightning black and white that kiss that night before he left for school again
With my lame leg, I made the choice to come to Alaska after man in a suit hired me at a job fair on campus to work in a fish cannery. I haven’t seen Alaska’s vast open tundra or towering mountains, natural skyscrapers of granite. I haven’t smelled the salt spray of the ocean, either, just the holocaust that comes from it. I stand in line sixteen hours a day in a rusty, rundown metal building, scooping out the guts of fish cut further up the line. My leg aches constantly which is why I’m forced to do the still job. The building smells of rotting fish guts, undersea death, and everything in town cost about three times more than it does at home. I can’t go back there. I only have a few more weeks here anyway and then I’m going back to school. It will be nice to see all my friends again. Even the homework will be a relief. Anything to distract myself.
he had better friends from rivertown or work he couldve seen but he kept insisting he wanted to hang out with me I was the last person he saw before he left and I almost blew him off thought he might try something weird but he never did anything all summer but try and get me to hang out with him outside of work I shouldve more shouldve known better we went to the park in town next to 52 the cars on the highway and the street light at the opposite side were the only source of light that night as we sat on the swings he made me laugh even though I didnt fully want to be there I was just tried to annoy him all night for my own amusement he kept laughing and saying I was so cute thunder he could do dishes faster than anyone especially you you cocky little pig they were cleaner and he could sort them without even looking its nothing really to brag about and he never did you wont last another month here because of your attitude but he was fine doing that horrible job for six years fine with being a twenty something year old dishwasher I dont know how he did it probably knew he would be doing bigger better things soon enough he somehow moved the soccer net from the field next to park underneath the spiral slide when I went down I ran into the tangled tied ropes and got caught I chased him around the field smiling with my fist cocked ready to strike if only he wasnt so old
I actually thought about that kiss when I was in my crash—well, after my crash, I guess, when they had me on anesthesia and my head was as big as the universe. In my missing hours, when I didn’t realize I was teetering on the cusp of life and death, I just stood there with my lips pressed against her wild wavy brown hair. All the other girls I’ve been with or talked to or even just thought about, watched in the background as indistinguishable shades of gray. At the end, as I returned to life, I fell on my knee in dew-covered grass and tied the rainbow shoelaces on her just fading purple Chucks. Waking up with my head still swimming, I found myself in a white room in a hospital. I also found my leg still bloody and mangled. I don’t remember the crash but the doctors told me that it had been a front driver’s side impact and my leg had been almost completely crushed. A permanent limp waited just around the linoleum corner.
The hospital room was always too clean and sanitized, unnatural. It made my skin feel too dry, as though it was all going to flake away and I would die into dust. I didn’t think much in that shimmering white room because the doctors gave me pain killers that inflated my head. But when I started coming down and my head began to stiffen, it was her that it stumbled to first. What would she think when she saw me limping home like a war hero who was too frightened and broke his own leg to dodge the draft? After physical therapy, the best I could manage was an uneven hobble as I walked. She never really cared that much about me in the first place. I had to fight her tooth and claw to get her just to hang out with me the night before I left town, and that was when I stood tall and proud. How could she ever even think of me when I am hunched and broken?
we ended up side by side in the grass it scratched like thin cat tongues we stared at the black sky there were no stars or moon it was so dark you couldn’t even see the clouds that blocked them off we laid there in silence as the night got cool he wanted to find out how dew formed he said I would never tell him how weird he was sometimes I wish the stars were out tonight he said I want to see your eyes shine in their light I could never tell him how strangely romantic he could be this electric light just doesnt do you justice your face looks like a sundial I could never tell him how brilliant I thought he was either I could never really figure out what he was it was like one of those pictures you stare at for a long time and then they show something else but could change back in a second some days he was annoying and others amazing oh really I asked yea but I like sundials he turned and look me in the eyes as he said it lightning everyone loved him here and he loved everyone back the waitresses all flirted with him but said they were never serious they were all semiserious and they all knew it he liked to flirt back he called them all sweetheart or dear or hon he only called me sunshine though sundials watermelons alarm clocks orbits suburbs music kittens heartlessness prologues modern skanks pencils pens ink paper books were all things he talked as I shiver the grass growing cold and wet around me and tried to keep up
Walter’s always had just enough cooks to scrape through Saturdays, three for the morning shift and one for the night shift. He was standing behind the grill, turned away from it facing the toasters because one of the cooks had called in sick that morning. She had been summoned to take his place scraping half-eaten food and filth off of plates with her hands and washing them.
People sat and drank coffee. Tickets buzzed out of the machine and were brought to hang over the grill. Bread was inserted into the toaster. Eggs were spread over the grill and topped with fillings and cooked and folded. Toast popped out of the toaster. Bacon sizzled. She pouted and gagged in the back room. Toast was buttered and cut. Food came back either too done or not done enough. Cooks sweared. Half pieces of toast dripping with butter were arranged round eggs and meat and hash browns on plates.
After two hours of swearing, sweating, and calling servers, the morning rush died away. He was sent to the back to prep for the lunch rush where he stood making balls out of red meat at the silver metal table in the back room. She was against the wall to his right doing dishes with his back turned to him. He looked over at her every once in awhile, hoping he would find her looking at him.
He made fun of the music she had playing on the beat-up radio behind him. She defended her songs and he teased her for liking songs just because they were catchy with good beats. She huffed and returned to her dishes, turning her back to him but she had a small smile on her face.
The other eight hours left in the day I spend in my room, about half the size of my freshman dorm with walls made out of concrete and a single dim light bulb hanging in the middle of the ceiling. I either play cards with the three other guys who sleep in my room or I sleep. When I sleep now, though, I only dream about scooping out the guts of the pre-cut fish. It’s like I never stop working, ever. The dreams are only better in one way, and that’s because she’s always standing across the conveyor belt from me, smiling and looking great.
its getting late he said after a while yea I should probably go I said as we got up he said goodbye turned and started walking home black junior year dragged on after he left as high school seems to do when one sees the product of a college I havent seen him for about a year now its doubtful ill see him again for a long time he should be back in school were both seniors now ill be sliding and hell probably be working on his thesis last time I heard from him was right before his crash I didn’t even think of going up to the cities to see him I didn’t think anything of it why I had only gone about ten feet my shoes were already damp with dew when I heard him call out hey as I turned he was coming towards me with his arms stretched out like jesus as if he was sacrificing himself for me I smiled full and hurried to hug him around the rib cage he was taller than me by almost a foot as I pulled away he held on to my shoulders behave while im gone ok he said I will I still don’t know why he looked so concerned
She looked so amazing that night. She always looked incredible. She had such a young tight little body, skinny as a broomstick but she stuck out a foot in the two best places. Her huge adorable brown eyes. Her nose that was a little too big for her face somehow fit perfectly between her eyes, I wanted to kiss it every time I saw her. I couldn’t let her get away, I realized that as soon as I turned my back to her that night. If I left her then she would forget about me during the few months I was at school. I would fade into the most overlooked part of her mind, only to resurface when she saw me again. I called her back. The stars were hiding somewhere so I knew there would be no witnesses. She turned and looked at me from across the playground, and that’s when I cracked.
As I stood there, looking at her from a distance, seeing her gorgeous face and her well endowed curves, I wanted to engulf her. Devour her. Consume her whole. I needed to stick my tongue down her throat so I could taste the blood gushing out of her heart. I wanted to kiss her mouth and hands and neck and stomach and back and feet and eyelashes. I had to know what she tasted like everywhere on her body, bubble gum and skittle I bet. I almost took two giant handfuls of that amazing ass she had. I wanted to rip off her clothes and throw her down naked and.
On the other side of the crack I wanted to absorb her. I wanted to inhale her, take her in and walk away with her inside of me forever like a fetus. In that moment, I suddenly saw her like a little sister to me. I felt the need to keep her safe, completely protected from the nasty world and its corrupting spider legs. I couldn’t deny that I was sexually attracted to her, I couldn’t fight my lust for her, that I wanted to be one of those legs. I loved her and was in love with her. My opposing views of her grabbed me by each arm and began to pull and the crack became a fissure.
When I began to walk towards her, I didn’t know what I was going to do: grab her around the waist or shake her hand, stab her with a dagger or hand her a shield, open her up wide or wall her off tight, protect her or destroy her, love her or kill her.
then he bent over and kissed me on the top of the head I dont know if he chose that spot just because he was tall enough or because he knew I would have stopped him if he went for my lips or just because he felt the top of the head was more affectionate I had a strange sensation when his lips touched my hair it wasnt complete joy or utter disgust it was nothingness edging towards amusement but I felt just a tiny little something poke out of the nothingness as he walked away again he called back and said hed be back real soon thanksgiving at the latest I just smiled and waved good bye cold and wanting to go home thinking he wouldnt stay away couldnt
I ended up deciding just to kiss her on the head and we walked away from each other. I told her I would be back by Thanksgiving, I don’t know why. I knew I probably wouldn’t come home for it, and even if I did I wouldn’t have told her. Things had become too complicated in the private chaos of my mind in the split second when I fractured. I know it was going to be hard enough just to find things to distract myself from her at school. Seeing her again would be as helpful as throwing a wrench into a running motor.
I think he is somewhere up in the cities working but ive completely lost track of him I dont know why he lied to me and didnt come back for thanksgiving or even christmas or ever at all since then I dont even know if he has a girlfriend now or if those feelings still reside in him in even the faintest sense but I do know he kissed me even if it was just on the top of the head my only regret right now is that I didnt kiss him back and now youre standing there barely looking me in the eyes because you prefer the looks of my fucking tits better so no “no I don’t want to go out with you.”
I know I will never be back to see her again, especially now that I have the reek of dead fish in my clothes and hair and skin to go with my limp. I still see her as a little sister and a possible lover, an angel and a nymphet. I am sorry, sweetheart, dearest, buttercup, honey, sunshine. I am so sorry.
At least she doesn’t have to have to live with the same feelings for me as I have for her. I’m plagued by the image of her beautiful face and breasts. Haunted by her voice. Obsessed with just a kiss to the head that happened a year ago. I doubt she is. She probably has only thought about me vaguely in passing. She gets to frolic through her teenaged life with me slowly fading out of her memory while I drag myself through each day with the image of her like a stone chained around my neck. All I can do is hope that this isn’t true love, that my feelings for her are not amaranthine.
Walter’s has lost its heroes and heroines. The people who worked everyday all summer for minimum wage have been called back to their studies. With half its usual workforce gone during the week, it feels empty, like a broken shell, even when it’s full of costumers with wide mouths and concave stomachs.
The restaurant sits on the east bank of the dry black river that is Highway 52 in Amobile. It is one o’clock on a Monday afternoon, almost all the tables and chairs and booths are empty, except for one where an elderly couple are sit and eat freshly baked pie. The older cooks and servers, the one who are done with their educational careers or never had any, silently go about their cleaning for Walter’s always has to look presentable.
Across the highway is a children’s play park. It is situated on the slope coming down from the highway, next to a wide, grassy field with light soccer nets flanking it on either side. It is an old structure of colorful metal and rubber and plastic. It has everything a park should have: a swing set, monkey bars, two spiral slides, and even a large tic-tac-toe board made of rolling cylinders in a wall.
The corner booth next to the window is deserted. They use to eat lunch there together with the sunlight between them every day, back when they still worked the constant eight to three shifts. The booth is silent. She is not talking about her glee club or saying things like I mostly sleep during study hall and We’re friends and I’m busy tonight. He is not joking about being able to buy her booze for her first prom or asking her to just see him once outside of work before he goes back to school.
They didn’t say much to each other when she started busing tables and bringing back the egg incrusted plates to him by the tubful. But their tongues loosened over three years. Their talks became more personal and their jokes freer, his especially became less subtle. She had a boyfriend for a while and he asked her everyday whether she had broken up with him as he smiled. She would just laugh.
A lingering gaze between them caused the gray haired cook to nudge him with a sharp, bony elbow one day.
I think she likes you, the cook said with a bad-toothed smile.
Too bad she’s only fifteen, he replied. Let’s go have a smoke.
His glances became longer after that. She caught him occasionally when she had been staring at him and she would always smile in guilty embarrassment like a bad criminal and ask Why are you staring at me?
I was just seeing what you were doing, sunshine. Why are you staring at me?