I have heard the item girls singing each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.


They fuck with one eye closed, one eye on the door. Afterwards, The Dark One pulls back the curtains and The Other One peers into the street to see if the puppies are still there. They watch men pee at the side of the road while balding women in nighties sink like stones into narrow doorways. Smoke bends up from the girls’ clove cigarettes and hides in the tangles of their hair. The Dark One, the one with the dead brother and the guitar, wheezes softly. The Other One, the one who loves her job and has a grandmother who doesn’t wear a blouse, says the wheezing sounds like kittens trapped inside something soft and terrible.

The Dark One tells the hotel staff they are cousin-sisters. The Other One is inconsistent, saying they are cousins, sisters or best friends, depending on her mood. Once she said they were teachers because she thought it made them respectable but harmless. In the afternoons, they draw the curtains and the room becomes hot and orange, like it is about to explode. The Other One looks for abortion scars on The Dark One’s stomach. Instead, she finds heat boils and evidence of laparoscopic surgery. When The Dark One goes down on her, she thinks of crushed ice and honey trickling from her mouth, her hair underwater, moving like something that is beautiful and unafraid.

They live on curd rice, lime pickle and Thums Up for three days. The toilet starts to leak and they ignore it, pretend it is water from the sink. The Other One’s stomach bloats and she decides that this is what it’s like to be pregnant. In the night, she slides her finger into The Dark One, who tries to think about post-racial America, the antioxidant properties of dry beans, steam pressure washers, Maoists. Instead, she thinks of the bite of sugar at the back of her throat, armies of sunlight dancing on her back, the ocean rushing from her mouth like it is ready to drown.

At night, when the room glows with dirty light from the street, they both look up at the ceiling and remember what they used to pray for. Please don’t let my mom find out. Please don’t let there be hidden cameras. Please forgive me for letting this person with a uterus and breasts put her fingers inside me, not one but three, all at once, again and again and again. Forgive me for letting her fuck me against the wall. Forgive me for coming in her mouth.


Photograph courtesy of Matthew Winterburn

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