Monday, March 19, 2012
--THIS IS THE SOUND OF SETTLING
…This is a quirky story I forgot I wrote that appeared in Stone Highway Review…
A stranger is kissing me.
His lips are warm and pasty, but it’s a nice pasty, like lilac-scented lotion that’s seen just a tad of sunshine. And the stranger wants things from me, yes, he does, that’s what his urgent maneuvers are suggesting, yet he’s not rough or demanding, it’s just yearning and urges. He says, “I know you’ve had other lovers, but none have been as good as I will be.” He tells me his is the panacea.
I have never kissed a stranger before. His lips now feel like gummy worms. I am sucking the green-lime flavor from them and he goes, “Hmmm. Hmmm.”
If I’d known strangers could be so sweet I would have tried this sooner. I might have made a cardboard sign to hang off my neck with invitations for strangers to come up and lay some sugar on me.
This man tells me I taste of chlorine. He claims I am a clean girl. She says all my sins have been ransomed, don’t I already know that?
We are kissing on a commuter train and I’ve just realized people surround us and there are gawkers in the crowd. That one by the holding pole is sort of biting her lip. She’s a jealous calico and that makes me kiss the stranger deeper until I’m rooting around inside the well of his throat and then I must bite him because his mouth is slurpy and iron-tasting. When he says, “Whoa!” it echoes.
I come up for air. The Asian man in charcoal pinstripes wants a piece of this action but it’s too late for him. I am in love with a stranger, this one, and I blurt it out. “If you leave me now, I will throw myself under these train tracks.”
He laughs. My father had laughter, too. He laughed at strange things, horrible incidents and mistakes he should never have made.
“Who are you anyway?” I ask.
“I’m just a stranger on a train.”
“That’s so unfair.”
“Well, you would hate me if you knew the truth.”
We kiss some more, our tongues blue boats and flexible acrobats. I know I shouldn’t sell myself short like this, but I’m a believer in love songs. Yes, yes, that’s it: I am not myself and I am not that damaged little girl any longer. I am beautiful because the stranger tells me so.