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sPARKLE & bLINK 2.8

sPARKLE & bLINK 2.8

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Published by Quiet Lightning
sPARKLE & bLINK is published in conjunction with the monthly submission-based reading series Quiet Lightning, which takes place in San Francisco and is hosted by Evan Karp. This is the eighth issue of volume 2, as performed on September 5 2011 at The Conservatory of Flowers [the second installment of The Greenhouse Effect], featuring: Meghan Thornton, Sherril Jaffe, Nicole McFeely, Anna Pulley, Chris Carosi, Joseph Lease, Siamak Vossoughi, Mira Martin-Parker, Nicole Henares, Marc Olmsted, Janey Smith, Jason File, Charlie Getter, and Michael Palmer, with artwork by Tyler Bewley. Find out more @ http://quietlightning.org.
sPARKLE & bLINK is published in conjunction with the monthly submission-based reading series Quiet Lightning, which takes place in San Francisco and is hosted by Evan Karp. This is the eighth issue of volume 2, as performed on September 5 2011 at The Conservatory of Flowers [the second installment of The Greenhouse Effect], featuring: Meghan Thornton, Sherril Jaffe, Nicole McFeely, Anna Pulley, Chris Carosi, Joseph Lease, Siamak Vossoughi, Mira Martin-Parker, Nicole Henares, Marc Olmsted, Janey Smith, Jason File, Charlie Getter, and Michael Palmer, with artwork by Tyler Bewley. Find out more @ http://quietlightning.org.

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Published by: Quiet Lightning on Sep 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/10/2013

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He puts on a pair of shorts after you’ve made love,
grabbing at the piles of clothes in the dark by his
bed until he finds something suitable to cover his
nakedness. That’s not what you call it, of course,
making love. You call it what it is: an affair. Still, you
resent him for covering himself. He is always so
covered. Since your own clothes rarely come off
during these exchanges, however, you can hardly
fault him. Not out of prudishness, mind you, but
urgency. You tug your skirt around until it’s facing
the right direction, but remain topless, to prove…
something… that you are, if not quite an open
book, then a topless one at least.
“Is that a tattoo?” you ask, suddenly quite
aware of how little you know about him, his body.
“It’s a joke,” he says.
“A joke,” you repeat. That’s exactly what I
am, you think. What this is.
“It says ‘Sí Se Puede’ in henna. Or it did,
rather. My brother and I got them when we went
to Mexico. Then I got tan. Damn thing still hasn’t
gone away,” he says.
That’s not a joke, you think. In this moment,
you think you might hate him, even more so than
when you first met, for coming between you and
your real, actual boyfriend; hate his flat Mexican
ass and one-dimpled face; hate that you are drawn
to him still, across cities, countries even, lovers old
and new; and now you definitely hate his stupid
reverse henna tattoo.
“Do you have any tattoos?” he asks. He plays
with the beaded curtain masquerading as a
bedroom door.
“No,” you say.
“Oh. I didn’t think so.” You stare at his
stomach, at the space where the henna ink used to

24

Anna Pullley —–––––––––––

be, looking for nuance, for a hint of something
behind his words other than what he has actually
said. You try to remember if his expression ever
changed, when he bent you over his bed, when he
pressed himself into you, when he said hello. You
remember him always looking composed, though
surely that couldn’t be the case.
Then you think: Could this really be the
conversation that two people who’ve been sleeping
together on and off for a decade have after sex?
Was it because you had so little time together? That
your boyfriend knows about the affair now and
that this may be the last time you ever see him? Or
was it that adultery made for terrible icebreakers?
You try to think of something to ask him, but can
only manage, “Do you know what time it is?”
“Quarter till,” he says and pushes himself
onto his knees. He stops playing with the curtain
and begins tracing words on your back. You want
to know what he’s spelling, but do not have the
courage to ask. You’re not sure you like this,
actually, this feeling of intimacy. You once
preferred these interactions to be like grocery
shopping—in and out, with as little crying as
possible. There were few pleasantries exchanged,
save for the necessary words, Yes, Please, A Little
To The Left, and now the presence of cordiality has
started to make you uncomfortable. You must have
something in common, you think. A ritual, a
ceremony other than sweat, that strange fruit, and
the chemistry you can only refer to as destructive.
You look at him, on his knees, the beads still
swaying gently from side to side. For the first time,
you realize that you’re in this together. This is not
just happening to you alone.

25

—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK

In the middle of this struggle to find meaning
and common ground, he says, “Want to go again?”
and you hate him all over again.
“No,” you say, calmly. “I should be going.”
You break from his touch as if scalded and dress
carelessly, throwing this on, and that. The beauty
of his studio is that there are very few places to
hide.

He walks you out, his bicycle on one side,

you on the other.

“Where are you going?” you ask.
“For a ride,” he says, and you realize he isn’t
obligated to tell you anything. That, in fact, your
relationship depends on not expecting any answers
from each other.

“You should wear a helmet,” you say, less
out of concern for his safety, and more because that
is what people say to people who don’t wear
helmets.

“I know,” he says, ignoring you and placing a
foot on the pedal. You turn to leave, feeling the
cold lash at your freshly chewed lips, and try to
remember the last time you’ve worn a helmet
yourself—surely it has been years, you think.
“I was hit by a car,” you say, feeling now as
though you need to explain yourself, and your
sentiments.

“That sucks,” he says, and gazes at you
steadily. You want to say more about it, that you
fractured your skull, that you couldn’t walk for
eight days, that when you called in to work,
everyone thought you were joking, even though
why would anyone joke about that? And why
doesn’t anyone know what a goddamn joke is?
But you don’t know where to begin. He looks
down at his bike, then back at you. He’s clearly
waiting for you to release him. Yet you can’t. A

26

Anna Pullley —–––––––––––

woman crosses the street and gets into a car to
drive away. You wish you were that woman. You
wish you were any other woman. You even wish,
for a moment, that you were the Other Woman.
Then you could just flit away.
“I told him,” you say.
“You told him?” he asks.
“We were eating dinner,” you say, as if this is
a relevant detail. “Clam Chowder.”
“And what did he say?” he asks.
“It doesn’t matter,” you say.
“He said it didn’t matter?”
“No, I’m saying it doesn’t matter. What he
said,” you say. “I just thought you should know.”
Eventually, he says, “It’s really cold out
here,” and breathes into his hands.
“I wish you would have said something

else,” you say.

“Like what?” he asks.
“Like anything,” you say. “Like you can
never see the stars in the city. Like the snow is still
pretty, even when it gets trampled on. Like I’ll miss
you.”

“I will miss you,” he says. “I miss you

already.”

You smile at him, even though the cold hurts
your teeth. “I haven’t left yet.”
You’re still smiling when he bends down to
kiss you, and for a brief moment, his warmth
spreads across your whole face. Then is gone.

27

—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK

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