She wonders what his hands must feel like. Beyond rough. Beyond the slip of her skirt. A tattoo in this crease. A nail missing here. Hair like barnacles. Words slurped foam spewed between a layer of plastic.
“Don’t mind him. He’s got that thing in. To whiten his teeth.”
“I’ve never done that before.” Jorjian bites.
“That’s cuz you got hella white teeth.”
It’s true. She guesses. Jorjian Brown was born with the bone of whales. Her gaze springs back to his hands. They dart from here to there. Gesture to the sky. A white haze throughout the neighborhood has taken hold of everyone on the block. Everyone on the hill has lost their mind. And yet she calmly begins to wonder. What woman has the honor of belonging to his inked-on wedding band? The left hand, the fourth finger in. Yes, that’s correct. But who would take him? Who, she wondered, as she let him slide a finger in deeper.
He is a righteous figure. Someone who never misses the number two bus. Someone who always hangs to the back of a line. Knowing he will get to the front in good time. He is a rock. And that’s why she clings to him. But now he clings to her. Fallen atop her white figure to be waxed. Slick, she is pale as glue. Another substance darts up her nose. Another wasted hour of his fingers lingering and waiting to grab her keys. Once they smelled so metallic she smiled and couldn’t stop herself from bursting out a hoot. She then sliced what she could of the key into her wrist unable to tell the difference between that and his fingers.
She had done it again. Wandered down the wrong gated alley. Saw the blackberries that no one would pick. Didn’t eat one herself because she was late to meet him. She had the shakes. But also because last night she heard a shove and the gate jingle and then the soft spray of urine onto the wall near the berries. A thorn mixed with some vodka vomited up the next Sunday morning, early like around four or five. When the skylight was full of blue and black and everyone’s eyes were glassy and the toilet bowl was open and no lines were left to take in, everyone was sweating now. A morning ritual. A shower, a sh*t, a shave. That’s what her father had said. Things like that tickled her. Words streamed into her eyesight. But things didn’t seem important to her that night. All that said anything was her mind, yelling about last night when they had huffed all the spray cans in her pantry. When had she the opportunity to scold herself anymore? When would the time come for her to feel the tiny sting of a sense of guilt? The relief of remorse for the killing of her own eyes?
The deep bricks in her brain panted with the heat of the song. Cat Power again. Crooning. But the party had died, the laughter was never there, but the party had died. The house had died and the paint chips crackled out front. Jorjian wished it would rain. Then things could get back to normal and this heat would dry up and she could kiss it away from him. Like when she blew on a flower but the petals stayed-put because they had been glued on and her dad said it was made of newspaper to save money. But they had smelled like glue and that is what she had liked. For the first time on this Tuesday she felt sad. Groggy, but sad. She ran the keys along a scarline on her wrist. The same scarline that had creased her arm and leg and head and breast for years and years, since Gordy stopped on the highway that night. He whiskered her bangs.
“How did you get that bump?” He smarted her with his dull eyes.
“It’s not a bump. It’s a scar.” She answered. The coke had run dry so her face had left the party feeling numb. A dumbness crowded her between the furrow of her sockets. Her armpits felt soft and the tiny hairs prickled her. She laughed as he came. She laughed as his hands left her alone. First time all night.
He had stopped on the highway to blow his brains to the wind. Scatter his thoughts to the gun’s tip. She stopped in her tracks. Had she wet herself? A gush of blood came rushing through the nozzle of her head. She fell to the floor. Again with the oxygen. Again with the ER nurses looking nice to her. Filling her with sweet flavors of pink and gowns of paper animals. They wore nice frocks and danced around the green room like ponies. Jorjian felt sad for these horses. The way they felt sad for her. Her mouth drooped and coins fell out. And she could see his hands covering her mouth.
Moe and Vinny knew it too. Travis knew it too. Things would be different now. She couldn’t tell what was good enough for her to take up anymore. Would knitting suffice? Would gardening? Fingerpainting? Baking? Snorkeling? Doing dishes was her specialty. Everyone could see it. And Jorjian did it with a smirk. It couldn’t get any worse and so it couldn’t get any better. She read and re-read the instructions on the side of the bright orange plastic bottle. Ingest. Ingest. Ingest. Before dinner, before sleep, before dawn, when he would be around her bed. The mattress is a folded spoon that Jorjian couldn’t wait to see him laying in after the time spent in a locked room with a young boy who she let roam her thighs. She would be seeing him after all those nights spent hugging the breast of a black nurse.
“You ain’t crazy. You just stressed.”
Her pink bracelet covered her keyed wrists that day. And she wore navy. From head to toe. And she asked him why he hadn’t come to visit her. He held up his hands. Not in question. But in answer.
As if they had prevented him from coming. But she knew that’s what they were meant for. He stood there. Hands in her face. Gleaming on dust.