hell of a spring cleaning
I scrape my nail on the edge of the counter. Grime comes off with it, and I pick it out from under my nails, stalling. It’s a selfish silence, really. If only I knew what to say to her.
I settle on something familiar, finally. “Hey, you want whiskey?”
She wrinkles her nose. “You know I don’t drink.”
“Of course.” I know she doesn’t drink. Not even beer. She doesn’t even want to. I pour one for myself anyway. I’d smoke, too, but I don’t really trust her with matches. I settle with the cold of whiskey burning my throat. I can see her displeasure, that she’d rather drink a Coke Zero. At least it’s just for this that I’m disreputable. “You still wear that green shirt?”
She smiles. “Uh-huh!” Sunshine Girl. It was faded. She liked to wear it with those little denim shorts while she climbed. She had nice legs, nicer back then. Of course, she never believed me.
She swings those legs now on the counter, and I admire them: so unblemished, so tan. We used to fuck around a few years back, when we needed a break or something to help us sleep. Neither of us ever really got over the shame of it, I think. Looking at her breasts, pushed up to look bigger and more valid, somehow, I don’t find her all that sexy. I can’t remember the last time we touched.
Now, of course, I’m suspected for her murder. I’ve seen the wanted posters up around town. Not surprising, of course, but I don’t feel like stabbing her today.
“How’s your mom treating you?” I ask her after another swallow. The image of her blood on my hands makes it more bitter, but I pretend it’s liquid courage, not liquid fear. “Things still good?”
“Yeah.” She shrugs. “It’s one of those in-between periods, you know.”
I laugh nervously. I remember that she doesn’t know it was her mother who phoned the police, screaming and then acting quite rational while they brought out their batons. “Oh, yeah. You could throw quite the tantrum, back in the day.”
“Can’t I still?” She grins. It’s cute. Oh, it’s cute. “I know it’s mostly my fault.”
I don’t reply.
“I mean, it’s just frustrating occasionally. It’s not a big deal.” She giggles. “I still can’t believe you were allowed to bleach your hair.”
“Yeah? You like it?”
“Shorter than I expected, but yeah.” Her voice softens. “Yeah, I like it a lot. Come here,” she murmurs, and I do, setting down my drink. Her cold fingers touch the back of my neck and scrub through my hair. It tickles; I gulp and close my eyes. I’d forgotten how sure she could be when she wanted something.
Then again, I know deep down that she doesn’t want me. She still has sunlight at the forefront of her vision, and has pierced ears. I smooth my hand on her thigh, her unblemished thigh, and she starts to sing. She still does that— how pretty.
“You have a girlfriend yet?” she asks after she’s done.
I have to laugh at that. “I did, a couple years ago. Oh my gosh, I forgot to tell you— I dated Mina, did you know that?”
She laughs. “No way!”
“She has pink hair now.” I drink. “It was a disaster. Oh my G-d.”
“Holy crap. Did you kiss her? What was it like?”
Instead of replying, I take her hands in mine and kiss her wrists. They’re so clean, and the skin there is so thin. So delicate. I could slice them open if I wanted to, but I don’t. I’m sick and tired of knives. Sick and tired of being sick and tired plays in my head. Damn, don’t I know it.
I know the thoughts she’s been having. I know how diluted the sunlight has been. But I want her to hold onto it for a little bit longer, just a little bit.
“I always loved your brown eyes,” she reminds me gently. “Still do.”
She does, and that’s the only thing. I lay my head between her breasts, familiar to me yet not my own. Not hers, either, just like the legs aren’t hers and all that blood. I know she won’t be here for long.
They’ll say I lured her here to kill her, that her name is love. In all the years we’d spent together, I never learned her name. I wonder whether she will learn mine before I go on trial.
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