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In the Maltese sun shone the catseye cabochon that you donned in moods of absent solace. Beach stones loosened under our shoes, heelground obsidian at the onset of noon. We were enclosed in an ellipse of longing with evershrinking axes. Overhead birds soared in echelon and you noted the event in your phone. Later, blatantly, you did a search for the phrase “the situation has become untenable.”

You had a beaten cloche and a dusty boa, the Louise Brooks in the breadline look, and blanched conches you liked to look at while you bathed, highspired and sonorous shells of priestly whiteness. You believed they echoed celestial motion as well as ambient noise. You got tans in the a.m. and left your clothes on the kitchen table. I drank the scotch on the kitchen table.

I looked at the mirror in the hall, my eyes beastly with malt. I clenched a besotted fist and raised it. I adjusted the glass, disrupted its symmetry. You didn’t notice for a week.

We chose our sentences carefully. We often boasted, we sabotaged inviolable taboo. We kept discreet tabs on our open tabs. You went incognito for a week. At dusk you still glistened and I wanted to lick your dewsweet lobes, commit unspeakable perversions against your auricles, write a corona to your cochleae. Later, spitefully, you did a search for the phrase “a history of inappropriate behavior.”

We walked to Paola to hear the oracles of today, where all time sang out in deathless tones. You decoded their fractalled resonance as prosodically deficient and wanted to leave for the historic dovecote and the artificial groves built for american t.v. There we only saw the ruins of an ecosystem. Later, desperately, you did a search for the phrase “found in a state of shock.”

You placed an informal gag rule on all forms of dialogue—we simply wouldn’t have words breaching etiquette like a levee failure. I sat in the empty bath by the three seashells, glowing in all their ivory grace. There were blue irises in a bowl beneath the window. I checked my watch: sunset, scotch time, and poured a little into the bowl. You appeared wearing nothing but your tan and the catseye, and in it I could see the sun receding, a fiery ellipse enclosed in stone. I longed for that light even as I felt ourselves collapsing.

Later, brutally, you did a search for the phrase “cheapest flights home.”


Derick Dupre lives in Los Angeles and is a founding editor of The White Elephant. His work has appeared in Hobart, Fanzine, Untoward, and elsewhere. 

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