Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Jamie Moore
I walked into the mall, wallet in hand, determined not to be doped by the blaring music and synthetic air blowing from the vents. I was focused until I saw a man and a woman strolling by. She was leaning into him, her arm tucked beneath his jacket. Something about him I recognized. It was the way he walked, with a slight bounce that reminded me of awkward middle school dances. I knew I was right when I heard his laugh: a deep, surprised sound punctuated by a "Fo' real baby, that's funny." I was focused until I saw my man with a woman.
My fingertips became numb first. My hands began to ache, like the slender muscles were stretched to their breaking point. I was heavy and light at the same time, stiff, unsure how to move. I could stand as a mannequin forever, nothing but an interchangeable prop.
They sat on a bench a few stores away, hips locked like a superglue accident. He always told me that's where I was fat, my hips, always avoiding my middle.
My stomach found my feet, my heart found my throat. His hand rested at the back of her neck, pulling her lips to his. I remembered him whispering in my ear, "Isn't kissing sexy behind closed doors? It makes me sick to see people like that in public." Yeah, it did make me sick.
His fingers combed through her straight brown hair. He had always wanted me to straighten mine. Was I stupid for loving my curls? She traced a finger from his earlobe down his jaw line, and he shivered almost imperceptibly. It was the one place he was actually ticklish.
Her hand reached up underneath the top of his shirt at his right shoulder, where his tattoo was. It was the tattoo I went with him to get: his parents' names between wings after they died in a car accident. He insisted on going to a dirty-looking shop downtown. He got teary as the needle traced the stencil, never one with a high pain tolerance.
I lost my sense of hearing next. I was left with only one sound; the slosh of a janitor's mop behind me. I looked down at myself, suddenly becoming embarrassed of my presence. I stepped closer, losing the sound of the mop for the beats of my heart.
They stood up, and she still hung on him like a parasite. I was four feet away. He not so slyly brushed something off her chest. Two feet, then I stopped. I heard her croon, "See you tomorrow, right J?" I coughed, trying to bring air back into my chest.
He noticed me then, eyes wide. Another second lasted long enough for him to gently remove her hand from his shoulder. His swagger was even more unbalanced in my mind's slow motion. A suck of air and he looked at me accusingly, "What all did you see?"
Jamie Moore is a Sonoma State University student from Santa Rosa, California, who is learning to call herself a writer.
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