by Melissa Llanes Brownlee
We climb the roof of the haunted dormitory. You want a smoke without getting caught, and I try to scramble up behind you, envying your long legs as they stretch to reach the overhang from the wall we scaled to reach it, my own heaviness a struggle.
We walk to the side facing the valley, the tiles shifting under our feet. There’s no one else crazy enough to do this, so we are safe. We dangle over the edge, the lights of the houses below, the lights of the stars above, the lights of your cigarette and lighter are shining in the hush around me.
I imagine the fuck me red lipstick, as you call it, a swirling invitation across your lips that you offered to me but I refused even though I wanted it. I imagine your eyes, catlined black, carefully drawn on in the mirror of your locker above mine. I have been the dark shadow you don’t want to shake.
You casually flick your ash with a cool I can never master. “We should have brought some booze.” I shrug and you turn away.
I can smell the mix of your shampoo and perfume and the tobacco. I try to breathe deeply without you noticing but you do and turn back, ash floating towards the depths.
“You can kiss me if you want.”
I don’t and you crush your cigarette against my heart and scroll Fat Slut in fuck me red across my locker the next day.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer has work published or forthcoming in Booth, Pleiades, The Citron Review, Milk Candy Review, (mac)ro(mic), Necessary Fiction, NFFR, trampset, jmww, Superstition Review and Best Small Fictions 2021.