Endangered Species — Women
Lain as a roast chicken, down next to a walrus, just off the Galapagos, admiring his tusks, sharp and thick, but not white as you once thought tusks would be; you admire how the sun ricochets off their smelly casings casting blind spots, in which anything could happen, but not be seen. You cup your hands around your eyes for a better look at this creature. The proud mister bellows, blows his own horn. His folded skin so much like foreskin. He wiggles his cashew ears and foams at the mouth. The bulbous body reeks of after-party body odor, chip breath and dying fish.
It reminds you of a time seven summers ago when you couldn’t wait to grow up and out of your home, your family, your friends. Something else was out there for you. How you sat on your porch, moldy cushion supporting your larger than life body, admiring the fishermen tossing the slick bodies of salmon through the air, from one pair of brown hands, to another. You remember the urge to swipe the salmon mid-air, take it home, slather the salmon up and down your body. How you wanted this to render you slippery to evade all nets, not to be contained. How if this didn’t work, you wanted to rip off your clothes right there on the porch and be as free as free can be. Whatever free meant in a world where men held the ropes, the fishing line, containing all in endangered species—women.
Presently, letting the sand, consisting of one hundred thousand years of death and refuse, absorb your body. First the legs all the way up till your eyebrow bone, leaving the tip of your hooked nose exposed; all in an effort to not feel it all. The pain, the hurt, the garbage they hissed at you in their cars while you walked. Not to feel their fat fingers and their icy beer breath. Not to acknowledge that your body will remember the pulsing, the ramparts, the angry snarls of their bodies on top of yours when you fought back.
The walrus groans some more, plans himself a dinner next to your disappearing soul. As he rips apart an octopus, you think, tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow, might be a better day? Deep down you know that tomorrow will be like today and there will only be yesterday’s; a future seemingly dimmer than the present. The walrus, full and content, tumbles over your last exposed appendage, stifling what little breath was left in your lungs.
Something Out There
“They call those quasars—stars that fizzle out and die,” she says. Her words mingle then melt.
The sun had fallen out of the bruised sky, replacing itself with the moon, all these stars, and their million year old light. It all seems limitless. We’re surrounded by a darkness our eyes refused to adjust to and yet one could see straight into that sky, deeper than oceans and wells, as if it were glass of a snow globe.
In her hands, a paper towel tube juts into the sky. We’re sharing turns staring through this makeshift telescope, focusing on the pulsing light just above the oaks. Seventeen year old cicadas, newborn from the soil, strum melodies on their foldable legs. They’re playing a song we won’t hear again till we’re in college.
The two of us are splayed on the front lawn. Strands of grass prickle the center of my back through the thin fabric of my t-shirt. I thread my fingers through, ripping a patch from their homes. Lightning bugs disco; asses pulsing, mimicking the dying star off to the West.
A thick summer coats our child bodies. The Diesler’s laugh like they invented jokes. An occasional breeze shakes the trees leaves, the bushes, our hair.
This air absorbs my words. I sprinkle the grass on my stomach and try again: “Can you feel us moving?”
“Mhm,” Danielle says. Her hum creates a cloud of hot breath I quickly inhale.
“What’s out there?”
“Something else,” she says.
“My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas,” I say, quoting our science teacher Mr. Simon, on the planets and their order. I find it appropriate to remind her despite the vastness, we do know there is something tangible out there.
I slap at the flesh of my exposed legs as a mosquito sucks at my skin. Stale charcoal wafts from the grill on the porch. My wrists are still sticky from barbecue sauce. Sweetened smoke clings to them despite having washed them with cucumbers and melons. A ticking in the gas tank of the tired car, stationed in the driveway, engulfs the cicadas and we’re carried away somewhere else.
She hands me the toilet paper tube and I hold it up to my eye. “That star probably died like three-hundred million years ago.”
In this gloom illuminated only by constellations and far off wishes, I can barely decipher her freckles, splintered and littered around her shoulders, caressing her lips, her cheeks. How it looks like the sky has entered her subcutaneous layer—a natural painting—I do not know.
In the bathroom mirror, just before bed, I poke at the spots on my own face.
Buried in pillows and sheets, Danielle walks her fingers up and down my spine. Goose bumps pimple. I inhale clean laundry and friendship.
I haven’t known her in years.
Allie Kubu lives in Mount Pleasant where she’s trying to get to the top of an internal mountain of happiness, writing fiction around life obstacles. She has a pygmy cat and never learned how to whistle with her fingers. Catch her @aleotaric for tweets and treats.