It was the kind of muggy that got you wet for all the wrong reasons. My shirt was a second skin; my tattoos ran in technicolour tears. She was bull-riding cloud nine and I’d found the bottom of a bottle of soul-black rum. We sat on the stoop of a ramshackle house, delirious with heat and ruin. We were just two kids looking for a busted fire hydrant to bring the fire down to a smouldering whiskey burn. She asked do you remember the time when and I said sure, baby, clear as cataracts. The bench under a street lamp in Paris where we drank heavy ales and I told her my secrets and she spread pyroclastic rumours all over that damn town. My name was ash, my face dirt. I got to thinking I’d punch my ticket home but she said let’s get married this is so much fun, I like you better when you’re on the run. Three more beers in the hole and I said being your muse for such graceful poetry is a gas. She knuckle-punched my arm, and my fever broke.
Years blurred, and we were still scratching at each other’s skin to find ourselves, sporting the scars like celebratory tattoos. We surfed a heatwave from the stoop to a corner store, parked our butts on the ice machine out front, our legs dangling like creepers intertwined. I fed her fruit: strawberries melting and dripping sweet red. She said buy me cashews, I like the way you say it like a sneeze while she rolled off and pirouetted into the street like a music box ballerina, her alabaster innocence drowning in pools of oil slick hair. She hummed a sweet lullaby and her dancing shoes waltzed her right up the storefront, and I knew right then I was soon for passing out cold.
I can see the Champs-Élysées from here, she called down. I was busy trying to trap horseflies with a pair of crystal chopsticks that happened to float by.
Sail over to Jupiter with me real quick? she asked in her special soft bunny voice. I jumped down and turned to press my best foot flat against the wall.
Before the world turned its last I felt my blood turn cold, telling me a sewer beauty who had me strolling up walls may just be the end of me. But I shook it off. No regret ‘til morning. She was all that I knew and everything I could leave behind. A rotten peach dipped in champagne, a gentle beckoning and the loudest loud.
ART BY SREEJITH PA
Sreejith is an illustrator who works with both digital and traditional medium. Luckily, he found art as a kid and has never looked back since. Drawing inspiration from music and people, he specialises in portraits. His artworks, with their bold strokes and vivid colours, are a mix of the realistic and the abstract. Other than his art, he’s known for his sarcastic humour and love for biryani. Instagram: @sreejithpa
*coffee emoji* *pen emoji* *whiskey emoji*. Recent work in Ellipsis Zine and b(OINK).