The Taste of Triangles
With a lick of rain on his back, I follow behind letting myself believe he’ll turn around and we’ll walk the two miles home to the river. Instead he ducks into the bus shelter, sits down. Above his head the No Smoking sign looks like a dirty halo. To the left, blue ink asks do you spit, or swallow, with a box to mark. He wants me to say what’s on my mind. I don’t tell him about the taste of cum on my tongue or the mark I would draw on this wall.
“How long this time?” I ask.
“Stinks like piss in here,” I say.
“You’ll be alright,” he tries.
Nodding makes me miserable. The number 4 thunders up, dirty brown and hiding it’s true colour. He doesn’t say goodbye. We’ve been here before. Just twists my earlobe between scratchy fingers with dirty nails. He knows goodbye tastes of vomit because only brothers understand impossible things.
Rows of big black clouds are chucking fat drops of rain everywhere. Stu is on the riverbank, a worn black lorry tyre beneath his arse. He looks like an idiot sat in the wet. His face is ruined with pot marks and he has a gap between his front teeth that snags my tongue when we kiss, still I get a kick out of the way his name tastes of sherbet.
“Alright mate?” he says.
“Alright, Stu,” tongue busting with fizz. “What you doing here?”
“Figured you’d need cheering up.”
I make him wait outside the backdoor. Inside I find mum passed out on the couch. There’s a ceiling there somewhere hiding above a blanket of blue smoke. Ashtray stacked up like a bonfire, and empty beer cans scattered like skittles. The smell bites my eyes, but it’s the name I can’t stand. Mum tastes of blood.
Stu is lying on the bed, pale skin everywhere, looking like spilt milk. I watch him from the chair, my underpants, messed-up with cheering me up are balled-up at my feet. He is telling me about a tosser he sucked off the week before. That he only ever fancies straight lads or proper gits.
“What’s the difference?” I ask. “I’m not either.”
Stu laughing sounds like a box of wasps.
“What for?” he says.
“Making me feel better.”
Then I’m up and tugging my tracky bottoms on, not bothering with a t-shirt, and telling Stu to bugger off.
Downstairs she’s wobbly on her feet. Wants to know where my brother is. I tell her he took the bus into town. She pulls me in close, hugs me tight. Moves to music playing inside her head. Whispers into my ear that I’m her favourite. But I don’t listen when she says he’s never coming back. Instead, I study the triangle tattooed on my middle finger, right above the knuckle. Just like my brothers’, the exact same. I lick the skin there, the taste of oranges melting on my tongue. Triangle is by a mile my favourite word.
Jon Ransom is a working-class queer writer in Cambridge, UK. He has work in Foglifter Press and SAND Journal.