BITTER, LIKE SWEET

by Blake Planty

ISSUE TWELVE | SPRING 2019

Bitter, like sweet

He isn’t anything like an alcoholic. He doesn’t even watch me as I undress and get on my knees and—oh he says boy like boy, come here boy. Come here, boy come let me come like, boy. I wonder what liquor tastes like a stranger’s dick in my mouth. How can a self-respecting person swipe right on their screen and get cock home-delivered to them. The transactions of bodies leave me hungry, still hungry, starving like a dog with milky eyes staring up at the boy. His navel is smooth. He smells like a man—dark and freshly showered, trimmed, laughing with the sticky spice of beer on his tongue. You’re like the real thing, he tells me, just like a real boy. So, you’re too ashamed to speak with dick in your mouth and your heart breaking into a thousand sharp-edged pieces on the ground. Be careful, you want to warn him, watch where you step. Don’t hurt yourself should be your personal motto—self-deprecating and hot to the touch in a fever-dream. You’re not lonely, not pining or left for want. There is a hot body on the floor and you touch it and it cries for you, not because of you. His nails dig into your hair and asks to share tequila as sour as a lemon-shaped sun. You touch that soft stomach, trace his hairs from the right puberty, the one you never had, understanding you will be bittersweet after the fact. That nothing is more bitter than a man you do not know grooming, telling you you’re sweet, the good kind of slapstick.

Edge of Nowhere

The trip takes me essentially nowhere. I packed my bags ages ago with little preconceived notion of where I will go, and where my travels will take me. All I know is that I want to leave as soon as possible, venture far away to somewhere I can’t be found. The taste of bodies and sweat is putrid on my tongue. It leaves a fuzzy aftertaste that I can’t wash out. Now, the tension in my stomach grows into a solid knot, and I know it’s almost time. The wheels move under us, and from the back window of the vehicle I watch the dirty hotel room become smaller and smaller. He tries to start a conversation with it, but the point is moot, the language collapses in my eardrum, my head is underwater with swollen words that don’t mean anything. You know, I thought there was another one of you on that app, looked just like you, with a different name? You didn’t change your screen name, did you? Did you? I will stop this car if you did. I saw what was in your pants, you fuck. I will put you on the curb. I will slice your throat. I will say mean and horrible things to you. You look like someone I know. I will make you cry. You are crying. I’ve never seen a boy cry like that before.

 

 

Games

I count to the number twenty and realize that my hands are only trying their best, that my limbs are only so bendable in the sliver of light I allow myself to wander in. I twist the bar and the blinds shut. I can imagine them as tiny strips of lights disappearing, closing out the driveway from view as I recede back into the closet. The closet is warm and safe. I can count the layers of boxes mounted atop one another, each layer perfectly in place so the other will not move. I stiffen my bones and my muscles and hold my breath: I want to become the perfect Tetris block. An irregular fossil. I fit so perfectly among these angles, I hardly stop to think if I belong here, if this is truly where my final resting place will be. My eyelids betray me. They prickle with the wet sting of loneliness I know comes from deep inside my gut, that uncoiled from my body like a restless snake. Immobility suits me. My next step is to become a statue, standing and forgotten. There is no memory for bodies like mine. But there is empty, infinite space.

Fantasy Life

Believing I saw a dragon, I rush down the balcony and on to the hard concrete. I wait to see if the shadow of wings flapping will return, but instead I’m only met the sight of my own dark blood. Then nothing—blackness that does not invite me into his bosom, but wordlessly accepts me. I’m not even promised this, yet I fade out of consciousness and wake up in the hospital, surrounded by strangers believing I’m suicidal. This is a fantasy life I’ve conjured for myself, I realize. I wake up, and I am a boy, a dragon, a magical beast that will withstand the passage of time and history. And I wake up astray, tied to tubes and my fractured skulled bolted back together. One thing to read about dragons and another to meet them. I want to smash myself on this linoleum, too, and see the reactions of tired overworked men and women gasping at my apparent madness. If I am careful, I can become an egg again, hatch into a new boy, wake up covered in wet, and then I will carefully fold and preserve the shell. I hear footsteps down the hall. My lungs are hot and burning. There is a hot body on the floor and you touch it and it cries for you, not because of you. It breathes fire, somehow, still alive.

 

Blake Planty is a trans-masculine person who loves crawling the web at the witching hour. He has works published and forthcoming in The Fanzine, FoglifterHeavy Feather Review, Tenderness Lit, and more. He also writes about video games. Find him talking about cyborgs and coffee at @_dispossessed and online at catboy.club

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