Kayani smoked newport 100s the way gravity sucks down on a tornado. smoke swirled around her pulling in the bad vibes from the neighbors across the way and providing shade, a place to take the edge off the glare. brick city sunlight smacks onto coal black pavement in front of her apartment building and steams the streets clean. banging off the corner stores, off of street lamps, and cracked windshields this brick city sunlight careened onto her chest, finding comfort in her brown skin. she smoked in the early morning whether there’d been sleep in her recent past or not.
the window sill was wide as all outside, tagged up with graffiti letters, rainbows and unicorns from glitter-pen happy homos, and messages in sharpie markers from everyone who wanted to leave a piece of themselves in her house. Kayani’s windowsill had been fucked on, loved on, sketched on, and on and on. poets shed tears, rhyming words to deconstruct the patriarchy and racism and find romance in between sips of coronas. the sill was the spot. early morning was the only time it was hers alone.
she counted the black boxes of a storyboard sketched in charcoal pencil. Kayani’s color palette never drifted: asphalt grey, black, brown, ruby slipper. the black charcoal was fun to run across the walls. her ex-girlfriend’s skin felt just as smooth, same color, same never-ending shine. without Mercelys, there was no reason to sleep these days anyway.
“something is not working here,” Kayani spoke out loud. no one was awake. people barely heard anything beyond their own voices.
the first cel depicted an open mouth and shaking lines, close-up on screaming girl. black outlines, red and brown lips, face distorted.
“do i really want to show a woman screaming? what the fuck? i cannot play into that violence against women shit as art. no. nope,” she hopped off the windowsill. white index cards were stacked into piles in and between her sharpies, nail polish, and assortment of rulers. these tools provided structure to an art practice sometimes out of her control.
rulers: the storyboards never stayed still. sometimes the vision slanted and curved and pieces drifted beyond the lines. the ruler kept the lines sharp, even if they were crossed or erased, the structure of them left a mark. sometimes you just need an imprint.
white index cards: for all those ideas that happen after the big bang. they’re for the ideas that happen while you’re living inside of art, when what you’re making is never as good as you want it to be but there’s nothing else worth doing, ever. write moment onto index card and press, hard, onto walls, onto skin. find the spot on someone’s body that makes them cum and post it there, post forever on their torso. make sure it sticks. these are instructions on how to keep breathing.
sharpies and nail polish: because COLOR, MOTHERFUCKER.
halfway through her third Newport, kayani kneeled on the floor, over a giant yellow sketch pad and outlined her memories of Mercelys’ body in ruby slipper red.
“i could just make a movie about her body. but even that would make me fucked up somehow. we worship bodies, don’t we? sometimes that’s the thing that brings peace, the body to body connection,” kayani wrote that last line on the windowsill in silver paint. say it out loud. write it down. make it exist.
the rest of the world woke up in between fresh-inked story squares and drags of fiberglass. Obsesion by Aventura filtered up from the cracks in the floor. Manny in 5B played that song every morning. her and Mercelys used to lock thighs and make love between steps and to the pauses in Romeo Santos voice. Kayani wrote love poems, Beyoncé lyrics, and horoscopes on Mercelys’ back in henna and mint green lipstick. love made, body spent, colors swirling between fingertips and skin. this should have been happening right now.
Kayani lay on her back, charcoal marks up and down her ribs and forearms. topless, in purple boy-briefs, she wondered what the ceiling would look like covered in different images of the virgin mary. the black virgin, a graffiti mary, an ultra-catholic porcelain looking virgin mary, mary in 3-D, all of the marys. everyone should have a mary that looks like them.
“i’ll make a movie about your body and cast you in it,” Kayani rubbed her belly, ” i know you. you’ll do it and then love me good on this kitchen floor. what i wouldn’t do for a taste of you, Mercelys Maria Rolon.”
the forgotten storyboard lay near Kayani’s feet. she’d work on it again tomorrow morning. the sky was too full of light and blue and all this joy was too far away to reach.
her phone buzzed.
text message from Mercelys: I’m outside. Would it be ok if I came in?
** i’m taking Ariel Gore’s online fiction writing workshop. she’s got some awesome assignments and quick write prompts. this is something short i wrote today. bloop. **