Perfume on pulse points, nicotine on waxy lips, coral nails.
Therese doesn’t like dolls much, though she is treated like one. Doe-eyed and dear, a blank canvas, gazing from behind glass. Carol tells Therese to play the record again, and again. Carol tells Therese to look at her own reflection. Carol tells Therese to smell the perfume on her neck. Therese is eager to please—recall when she offered to go buy Carol cigarettes in the middle of the night. Carol shot the offer down instantly, but likely loved the sentiment.
I only let you put makeup on me because I wanted you to touch my face. “Beautiful,” you called me. I kept it on all night, even though I didn’t like how I looked.
You’d always fall asleep with your makeup on. You liked remembering how you looked last night. I’d wash my face, watch you sleep in the reflection of your bathroom mirror. Mascara starting to cake, lips starting to crack. Deluxe and temporary.
Erogenous zones: neck, wrists, ankles.
Gestures that are fleeting, restrained, erotic: a reassuring squeeze. Brushing not only elbows, but knees. Brushing hair. A hand on the shoulder. These are more lustful than their sex scenes.
I don’t look back on our sex as much as our moments of restraint. A secret for me was a thrill for you. I couldn’t tell if I wanted everyone to know or no one to know at all. You didn’t care what anyone thought about us, which seemed either like a grand symbol of true love, or simply indifference.
Pale fur, chilled silk, alligator skin, thick curtains, coarse sheets.
Therese going through Carol’s suitcase feels more intimate than when Carol emerges from the shower, and even when they are both naked together. Her fabrics define her. Touching her clothes off her body is more sensuous than actually touching her body. We all know what skin feels like. But what about mink? Real leather? Crinoline trim?
You had spilled beer all over the gown you borrowed from your sister. I remember trying not to stare at how the lace and sequins of your bra were seeping through the soaked fabric. We went to a single-room washroom to clean it. You took off the gown, laughed about how you didn’t bother to shave your legs because you knew no one would be seeing them except me.
Putting earrings back on after hanging up the phone.
When Carol lies about feeling safe when she has a gun, about going to the washroom when she was making a call, Therese has that look. When you know you’re being lied to, by someone you love. When you know you shouldn’t tell them that you know, because they’re someone you love.
For prom, I bought us pearl earrings for $5 from an elderly vendor in Chinatown. I told him how neither of us had ever owned anything pearl before. He knew they were fake, and so did I, and so did you, but it didn’t matter.
Car rides, windows, countryside.
For two people so enamored with one another, Carol and Therese seem eerily cold on their car rides together. Their warmest exchange is when Therese helps Carol wiggle out of her coat while she drives. We’re denied the chance of hearing any of their chatter, their mutters about the weather or the radio or each other.
Fewer things made me happier than car rides with you. After prom, the cabbie asked why two dimes like us we were going home empty-handed. We dozed off holding hands in the back seat. You still reeked of beer.
Later on when you got your license, you drove me out to the town where you grew up. We went to your favourite diner where your favourite waitress still worked. The redhead, with the nose-ring. We ordered the same thing without meaning to. A few people recognized you, stopped to say hi. As you chatted, I smiled politely, waiting to be introduced. I looked across the street. A little movie theater was boarded up, the record store was for lease. I kept waiting.
I never got one: you never sent one. No one got the last word.
I don’t know what takes more courage—telling someone to wait, or asking someone if you should wait. Or perhaps it is not telling or asking at all.
Leaving a party early.
There’s everyone else, and then there's you. Everyone else: White noise. Filler. Murmurs. Lumps of cells, shuffling. You: Technicolour. Precious. Precise. Present, drifting.
Having eyes only for you is just a glamorous way of saying that I am blind.
By Sennah Yee