FICTION – I Say 2 You Say Deux by Gabriel Ponce de León

There was no full moon the night we met. I’d been downing pints and shots of hard liquor, and she had too, so when we sat at adjacent barstools, when we shared one, what did you expect would happen? Our driver thought it was going to happen in the backseat of his cab: Koranic oaths and incantations. If her apartment building had ten more stories, it might’ve gone down in the elevator. Inside her crib no drinks were poured or lights turned on, her shoelaces already untied I lifted my ex up. Its red fuzz specking the front of my shirt I raised her shirt to kiss the light fuzz of her navel, first impressions last longer.

The slippery knot tied, she slid off the mattress to the bathroom, hit the light above the mirror, turned on the faucet and lit a cigarette. One hand holding her hair sort of in a bob, she took short, silent puffs staring at the mirror through the cloud of smoke like a veil rising over her naked self.

“Cigarettes lower your body temperature,” she said, climbing on my back a minute later, it was still too hot to snuggle.

Around five o’clock I got up to turn off the radio in the other room, wrapping myself in a damp towel nearly tripped over the wire of the old desk fan blowing relief at scant intervals off the floor, its stationary mode broken. Still stifling to spoon, at 6:55 she reached over to switch off the alarm. Soft, cruel beginnings lit a white window shade.

“Bon jour,” I said, her splayed head bleeding hair over my fingernails. “Now I’ll need to learn some French.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” she said, “foreigners never sound good.” And fell back asleep. Or maybe she was never awake. I never wake people up, because I hate when they wake me. This girl could sleep, let me tell you, the stuff of legends. Ages might have passed before the mattress dipped, and rose again. She flipped her laptop open.

Later that day, we lay unclothed eleven stories up on the reupholstered sofa listening to the angry intersection, a honking ensemble below. Her apartment smelled of cigarette butts humping out of ashtrays, bloated butts afloat in cans of warm beer. The young orange and black cat’s spine twisted like a pipe cleaner bit at her fingertips, it impressed me that her hand never flinched.

“There are different kinds of bite,” she said, “depending on intent.”

“It can be a thin line between playing and fighting.”

She gave no response proceeding to nuzzle this poor abandoned creature from under the park bench, just to make me jealous? Not that I need to tell you: there are cats that hate cats but love people, and people who hate people but love cats. Note, did that street cat with the crooked vertebrae even purr? More like a house cat my ex never minded the stares. For breakfast she sucked my twisted reflection off the silver surface of her spoon. The bamboo cutting board doubled as a placemat—orange juice, coffee, granola, the sliced apple was delicious but hard to keep down. Treading the solar pavement in front of her building I could have been light hearted, on the bus though realized I was just hurt. Every seat was occupied without a single passenger standing, and nobody got on the bus nor did anyone get off, thus I stood solitary holding the steel pole my unwashed hand illuminated, so my face must have been too. Beading up like a bottle, it had to be moonshine I sweat. The bus rolled ahead never turning right or left. Home, your boy passed out on the remote control, click to a new day.

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