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  • Thea Martin


Something a bit different - a little story.

By Thea Martin

For a week the skin was sticky from the sweetness of a summer drenched in rain. A slick of razor-cut hair would join persistently to the nape, the only place the thumbs had not quite reached, a throne of glorious absence in a body otherwise fixed in perpetual remembering. No amount of soap and hot water could scrub the tack, the tar of a body used, away. 

Their body - caught themself. Their own skin, their own sweat, their own dirt submerged in the pores on their forehead. A forehead that despite the grime was still held gently in the curve of a cupid’s bow, a welcome pressure to take away the heat and heaviness. An imprinting that made their skin feel light and soft again. If only they could touch themself like that, but they had only nails and arrows for scratching skin away. The cupid bow holder’s name was Lou. He helped to dissolve the days of that week into the long thread of time. Stitches that faded into the self. When the/their/a body became too much to bear, he would let theirs become his. A body to stay in for a while. A body to rise and fall. A body that could rest.

Those who held the parties had decreed long ago that they would be held only in corridors; long, hollow tunnels of transient movement, a space too hard to slip out of without causing a momentary scene. Seeing them (they of the thumbs) at the party was strange. First a cloud of frothy hair accompanied by a reckless fall into the haze of the familiar. Then, the sound of skin pricking with static as the slick of hair tightened its hold. Panic and nausea were washed down with house wine.

Words were exchanged between the two of them, light as dust dislodged from chipped and cracked porcelain that lay forgotten at the backs of shelves. Comfort and discomfort, two sides of ‘careful’. The discomfort ultimately won, abetted by the stifling humidity that demanded it was time to go. To move past both friends and strangers (and the new, other nameless category of person) required some act of force, a grazing, a slight push. An act of violence either way. Each reluctant goodbye through the crowd was refused the grace of subtlety. Where was the expanse of space that they longed for? The stillness? The slowing? Why could they not live in wide open fields, where time would stretch itself lackadaisical and paths would never cross unless designed or desired to? But there were no fields, just dress-up birthday’s and smokes, pint glasses and hangovers. Waiting. Pushing. Exhaustion. Leaving. 

Home was an uncased pillow patterned with yellow sweat clouds and medicine on the bedside shelf, no longer shuffled between houses at the bottom of a ripping tote bag. For a week now, they’d learnt to know their room. Slowly it’d been filled with new and beautiful things over the past two years, but they’d never really noticed how it felt to live in it. Upon each new nightfall, they stood still and asked the walls to hold them steady, no longer able to perform indifference to their space. The perpetual readiness for flight could not be maintained, for they were far too tired. The walls responded graciously, with no hint of anger at their previous rejection. 

And so they fell in love each night with the warm light that spilled from the sun-green lampshade, and with the baby’s-breath bouquets left out to dry. Lou stayed with them there too. He knocked the baby’s-breath off the stool each morning as he opened the curtains. 

Today is Sunday. The first week of the new year is closing. The skin is still sticking, but the temperature is dropping. Thunder replaces rain, then gives way to reveal a white, empty sky. Have they washed their sheets since they were hurt in them? They can’t remember. The skin is still sticking. Their skin. Their hands. Their tongue. They remind themself of how each part joins to the rest, and hold themself whole. 

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