randee crudo & alisha mascarenhas
original art by randee crudo paired with the short story it inspired by alisha mascarenhas
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Mascarenhas' full text:
"We moved here to contain the quiet pleasures of our bodies: to thrust our tongues into fruit and fall into sleep; to take showers and steep tea and pretend like everything wasn’t oozing and sinking all around us.
Then the floors fell through. The neighbours smashed their fists into chain-link fences and into one another’s jaws; screamed while we listened from our side of the street. We clutched to the solidity of the door-frame, not each other, and waited in a cluster of frantic silence.
You took my head in your hands and said, Look. This was the window most alive in our mute apartment: a portal to gasoline leaks of desire that corrode the mind. Nothing moved quickly when you were around; it all washed away in sensation. I had never met anyone to slant and lean the way that you did: the way you vomited glitter and oil and prisms all over the bathroom sink. I had never known anyone to moan and shudder like you: absorbing every sound. I brought you here because I was terrified of what leaked into you; wanted to hold you someplace safe.
Still, all I heard were the lengths of her screams across the street and the unfolding of chemical waste pouring down pipes beneath sidewalks. It was precisely the opposite of what we anticipated. We forgot what it meant to yawn or swallow. We suckled lemonade popsicles to soothe our throats (and to keep our mouths from feeling). At the bathroom mirror you peeled contact lenses from dry eyes as seams between the floor and wall split.
I promised not to let you dissolve. I rubbed lavender oil into your temples and wiped saliva from the corners of your mouth. Her screams dulled to murmurs. There was nothing sweet about it. It was all our pain.