Synaesthesia Magazine Americana - Page 19

I remember the precise moment I fell in love: Ellen walking into the bar in her workmen's clothes and steelcapped boots, me on my way out with two beers in hand. The plastic cups exploded, and the two of us drowned, beer dripping stale from our limbs. My eyes got caught in her stunned smile: lipstickless mouth breaking into a laugh, and I made a crack about CPR as a reflex. She eyed me up and down. "My place is close," she said in a Loretta Lynn drawl. "Let's take a shower."

We stood together in the cramped cubicle: shy little kids, neither covering what we had nor brave enough to touch at first. She had small breasts, fleabites she called 'em, and mine like heavy fruit she said, when she weighed them in her hands. I hated being compared to fruit. I get picked when I damn well decide I'm ready, not when I look ripe enough to someone else.

That made her laugh, but she didn't like to have offended me, so she offered me a beer to replace the one her blue jeans drank all up. It was fresh cold and it put the moonlight in my mouth, a taste I hadn't seen since I left home for the city.

"You got the stars in there," she said with a smile, watching my throat as I swallowed. We sat dripping again, this time on her couch, in big plaid shirts left behind by an ex-boyfriend. I put down the bottle and let her press open my lips with her thumb. She peered past my silver tooth. "I ain't seen stars like that my whole life."

"You know the constellations?" I asked. She shook her head.

Alcohol made me brave; I took her hand and pulled her into my lap. Her warm thighs pressed up around my torso like a hug, and we cradled each other. With a deep breath, I opened my mouth as wide as it would go. My eyes closed and I relaxed my throat, wider and wider. A piece at a time: arm, head, shoulders, waist. She climbed inside. I could feel her breathing as she stood on the rocky desert floor inside my chest.

The sound of her heartbeat echoed, a bass beat for the howl of coyotes, and the rhythm of it tasted like home. I parcelled myself up, impossible fleshy origami, and fell in a dusty heap beneath that big, bright sky. I folded us together in the curl of my tongue, and took her hand.

We stood there on the salt flats, shivering in our damp shirts, looking up.