Like Chlorine and Night by Rich Larson

With our legs flotsam in the deserted pool she tells me things aren’t going to work. Her legs kick and wobble pale in the cyan, only hint at discomfort. My leg hairs swirl like feelers.

“Can I kiss you at least?” I ask, passing her the cigarette.

After a pause she says yes. Her head smells like chlorine and night. My hand finds the shrapnel of her hipbone under skin. It traces clammy thigh, our cold lips mash together.

My head: flick her cigarette into the water, like drowning a firefly. Baptize her, find flushed warm parts under ripples. Spark her.

Realtime: we bisect, there are freckles under her eyes. She looks quizzical. Her tongue tiptoes her teeth. “Whatever you need,” she says. “Whatever helps.” The cigarette goes back in like punctuation.

Shiny scar tissue on her thigh, a tetanus shot age five—her parents knew she’d be the type to climb rusted pool fences. It fits under my thumbprint. We sit and churn refractions, pretend I’ve marked her.

~Previously appearing in Fiction Brigade

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