by Ryan Loveeachother
Swaying palm trees lean against smog, sexless like boners pricked with floppy-leafed umbrellas, like tropical cocktails, like what did the doctors call them, catheters, right, the male equivalent, on the pain threshold, to childbirth. My surgery went well. It’s been sixteen weeks and now my name is Krissy-with-a-K.
With orange flip-flops next to a city gardening trough blossoming only crumpled McDonalds bags and cigarette butts from a bed of gravel, waiting to cross Beach Boulevard, to get some air, to breathe, the beach, where solid and liquid collide, and a plane flies over the tide, which breaks softly, pulling itself back out, before another set of the moon’s fingers roll churning dice out on the shore.
Above it all, the plane is dragging a message, a banner flapping against the wind, red letters, I squint. Another lousy strip club ad. A number I can’t make out at this distance. Gulls gather at my feet.
In frayed jean shorts and a white bikini, excess string dangling, back and forth, I’m waiting to cross between the white lines, waiting for the blinking man to say it’s safe. And these? These are new, like organic melons, spilling out of spandex triangles. They’re bulging. They cradle my pulsing goddess heart. They turn heads—the surgical craftsmanship of a soft-fingered implant doctor from Bangladesh. And now I’m a sexy, he says, like manikin, recommending bronze spray-tan to hide the scars.
I’m transitioning, I tell myself, through lips still taunted by stubble, despite the hormone injections, which aren’t covered by insurance or my VA disability checks.
I’m still waiting on the corner, like one of those mimes playing a statute, waiting for change. Next to me, there’s a man strumming something and singing. I listen because I need it, and he sings There’s a fortune in every one of us. His duct tape shoes keep time, and it doesn’t cost a thing. Fingers pull and slap the strings. Silver pity is thrown into the the opened case lined with plush velvet, and I see that it’s all held together by duct tape, except the golden cat sleeping next to his famished duffel bag. There’s a fortune in every one of us, he sings, with pinker lips than I’ve seen.
People pass, sleepwalking with screens bolted to hand. There’s a fortune, I clutch my own numb fingers, feeling cold in my skin, in everyone one of us. The man stops his playing, his eyes barely open. Like the cat, he seems desperate for sleep. The way men do, his eyes look to my chest, the mounds of flesh sewn onto my skin and I say, Beautiful song, forcing the corners of my mouth upwards. His eyes are mixed up. One stays on my breasts and the other on the fuming cigarette butt on the sidewalk. It’s funk, baby. He has the look of a veteran— square jaw and I know because I deployed twice. Afghanistan. 101st Airborne. I know the crooked gaze with eyes hanging on me like sad violence.
I nod, shaking my head, saying the word funk to myself, funk, funk, funk, and the up and down of my chin makes these breasts sway and slam against one another, and I look into the street, and he asks, wit doze golden trumpets on you, squealin, you must be hookin, huh sweetheart?
I stare into the tinted windows idling at the red light, that’s still red, that’s been red, stuck there, not moving, holding everything up, like a noose, feet twitching. I see scared buildings, stone and glass, and the quiet cat sleeping and the man laughing and then finally the light changes and the blinking man flashes, counting down from ten, and the tinted windows lurch forward but my eyes stay, motionless roaming, the next car and the next and then a bus and on and on, lost in the glare.
R. Loveeachother is an artist, writer and former attorney from Minneapolis, MN. She has spent the past decade studying trauma through the lenses of social non-conformity, mass media, and emotional vulnerability. His flash fiction works to bulldoze the cultural haste and white noise in order to make space for emotional exposure and conversations about our traumas. Presently, they are an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Georgia College & State University, with work recently published or forthcoming in Potluck, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Canyon Voices.