The bed smelled of Ikea meatballs in brown sauce and my brown vagina. The smoke was not letting up and I was drowning on your bed. I looked out of the window after days of not feeling anything other than your cum on my neck. The cum was still there, dried and flaking off as if my skin had claimed it a part of itself. The sun was hitting granite and ‘je me souviens’ on burnt rubber tires, incomplete clouds hid, ashamed of my mouth and breath. Your cum was still on my tongue, in the back and I could taste it in my consciousness and I remembered I didn’t know any words.
You had gone out for a smoke and $2 coffee at the corner depanneur. It was the first time you had left me alone in 8 days. I was scared you had quit smoking and would never leave. You cut my nails before you left so I wouldn’t scratch my throat because I had cried earlier when my face was deep inside your plush mattress. My throat carried your burden separately from my body and I wanted to give you my throat, it had more of you than me. It belonged to you.
Too much of me was taking up space in your bedroom, you told me to stand next to your bronze metal floor lamp and I was too much. You gave me lettuce and broccoli with low sodium mayonnaise and I made a sound with my mouth inside my head. You wanted me to take less space so you could love me more, you wanted to feel the hideousness of my bones and judge the color of each joint and correct it. I wanted to know a language, any language so I could form words that I could hear outside of my head. You bought a vanilla cone from the 7-Eleven across from my apartment building that I hadn’t seen in weeks and told me to lick it slowly with my tongue but not swallow. You liked the tenderness of my mouth when it was cold. You said it felt like a virgin’s mouth and I could swallow you. You said, tip is the most sensitive part of the penis and my teeth hurt.
You inhaled my skin as you shaved the hair off my arms. We were in your bathtub and there was blood in the water mixed in with bath bomb. You had gotten me a bath bomb from LUSH because you wanted me to smell undamaged and fuck me while yelling ‘Mall Bitch’ as I’d close my eyes and try to remember my name. The blood was mine and you watched me slide a tampon inside myself. I was naked and there was too much bath bomb in my hair, you sniffed my head and told me to scrub myself good. I did. I started to stare in your eyes as you fucked me and realized I couldn’t feel my hands. I gave them to you and you attached them to your body and they became you. I looked at your chest and your legs and then I looked at my hands, attached to your hands. They were so brown compared to your porcelain self. I could see the blue of your veins like a terrible river, flowing, unable to touch the darkness of my hands and for a split second it made me smile. Something of you that couldn’t touch something of me. It was not true and you gave a final push before jerking yourself off the bed to go for a smoke. You asked me to come with you and I did. I let your cum drip inside of my leg and make its way to the heel of my foot, I let it rest there as it made a home inside the dirty snowshoes I had gotten from a Russian guy who took pity on me one winter. You started asking me to come with you every time after a fuck, when you would go for a smoke. You said I was being good and deserved to feel coldness on my face as you blew smoke in my face. Swallow it, you said. I opened my mouth and inhaled winter Marlboro and your taste. Today would be the first day I’d leave.
The baguettes were smelling of sour cheese and sesame oil. I stared at them as you ordered a ham and cheese sandwich with extra mayonnaise. Boucherie De Paris on Decelles Avenue was your favorite sandwich shop and we would walk there every afternoon to get you a ham and cheese. You liked meat other than mine and there was no restriction. You were spoiled for choice, the crust of the cold ham lingered on your lips before you put your finger in my mouth and grazed my tounge with your fingernail. I tasted blood and before you could say it, I swallowed. After a while, the broken skin started to make a pyramid in the middle of my tongue and you would make me open my mouth after you had cum and would lick it and ask, does it hurt? I would nod my head and you would smirk, satisfied. The couple and their sister that ran Boucherie De Paris were your good friends and when they’d ask me how I was, I would smile at them as a form of existing. You told them I was a shy little Arab.
Snow was refusing to go away and I was learning to talk. So far I had left 12 times, each time was the last time I left. You were pissed because you had to give me $20 for a tube of soothing cream for my ruptured mouth. You told me to get a job and I told you I had one but they fired me when I didn’t show up for months. You thought it was funny and laughed and gave me $20. I was in Pharmaprix explaining to the sales girl that my mouth was sore and it hurt when I moved. She smiled and said, oh, the guy must be a beast. I didn’t smile and she gave me a $5 discount. My mouth hurt.
We were in your bath tub and you were covering my body in Dabur Fem Turmeric Body Bleach that you had bought off some guy in India on ebay. You will smell clean, you said and kept layering my skin with thick, white substance that would make me good. Don’t you hate the color? The smell it has? you asked as you lifted up my arms and pinched my skin. Your nipples make me want to vomit, you said. I told you to order more from the Indian guy. I told you to cover my nipples in bleach. I told you I wanted to be good.
I woke up not good. My nipples hurt. I hate your smell, you said.
I brushed my hair and the floor tangled in straws of coarse hay around my feet. I’m leaving, I’m leaving, I held my breath so I could hear my own words. I couldn’t recognize the voice as the tips of my hair pulled out pieces of my scalp, stuck unevenly between plastic needles of the wooden brush. I’m leaving, I’m leaving.
The landlord of my apartment called my cellphone and you told him I was leaving his shithole of an apartment. You told me I’ve been evicted for not paying rent for 2 months and not answering emails. You told me to go and get my shit and to not bring back any ethnic stuff ‘cause you didn’t want to be linked to any ‘terrorist culture crap’. You looked at my hair and it was rusted in blood orange. You got pissed because you had already spent hundreds of dollars on bleach and I still smelled bad. You gave me $3 for the bus.
I opened the door to my apartment and it smelled bad. I walked over and sat on my red couch and it smelled bad. I gathered all my shit in empty suitcases and it smelled bad. I went to pee in my bathroom, I turned on the faucet and looked in the mirror. I smelled bad. The pee smelled bad. There was dust on the bathtub and the toothpaste was dried in the bathroom sink. It smelled bad so I cried, I cried for everything that smelled bad. I took the heavy suitcases one by one down to the big garbage and left them there, side by side, smelling bad. I wiped my face and looked at the red couch one more time and I could smell it. I left the key on the kitchen counter and a note with sorry on it. I closed the door behind me and waited for the bus. I texted you, sorry I smell bad.
She sat beside me on the bus. Her silk scarf smelled like avocado and pink shampoo. Her shoulder rubbed against mine and she smiled as she said excusez-moi. I thought I was smiling too but then she asked what was wrong and I raised my hand. She looked at my skin and asked if I shave my arms. I said I think I do but I wasn’t sure and she said she wanted to touch them. Her fingers were soft and my skin felt like sand. She said that she’ll be at Renaud-Bray at 6pm tomorrow and every Wednesday. She said ma al-salamah and I got off the bus.
Her skin was still soft when she rubbed her elbow against my chest. Her tongue was warm and my nipples hurt when she kissed them. Her apartment was small. It was on the top floor of a converted 60’s house on Cote-Des-Neiges. The whole building housed Arab families. She was the only single in the building. She was here on a student visa from Iran. She’d been here 4 years and had no intention of leaving. Her kitchen smelled like butter bread and her hair smelled like sweet sweat. I was laying there naked and she was on top of me, kissing my breasts gently and rubbing my ass cheeks with her hands. I touched her hair with my fingers and could feel her hot breath on my face. I felt my hands and my feet getting hot and my toes getting numb. Her hand slid between my legs and I felt a tremor go through my body. I thought of you and what you were doing right now. I thought of the lie I had told you when I said I was going to get cold cut ham for you and went to Renaud-Bray. I wondered if you would find out and if it would hurt. Me or you? I felt her fingers playing with my clit and I couldn’t hold it in. I grabbed her face and buried my tongue inside her mouth. I wanted to infuse my body with hers. I wanted to have her body be mine like conjoined twins. I hated my body and its smell and I hated my hands and my feet. I wanted her body to be my body. After she made me cum, I got up and went to the kitchen. I looked for the butter bread and I could hear her moan as she came in the next room. I asked for some butter and bread and we ate over the kitchen sink, naked with cum stuck on our fingers.
We were in your bathtub and I was looking at my thighs. You were spreading Indian body bleach on my neck. There were patches of dried, discolored skin on my thighs where the bleach had been too strong for every Saturday in your bathtub. She would kiss every discolored part of my body as I would lay in her bed with my eyes closed. She would nibble gently on my fingernails and rub almond oil on my body. I told her how I smelled bad and she asked if she smelled bad as well. I told her no, it was just me and she asked why. I told her about you and how I had left more than 30 times, she kissed my eyelids and then gave me head. I asked you if I smelled a little less bad and you laughed and spread extra bleach on my pussy. You make me want to vomit, you said and I pleaded for you to tell me which part of me smelled bad so I could cut it off.
The paint on my face was becoming dirt like a waterfall and her hands were covered in pieces of my skin. We were standing in the rain in Mont Royal park and her voice sounded like sugary melons. Her navy blue abaya was stained in my filth and I could see a thousand eyelashes chipping away at the delicate gold embroidery that smelled like her smile. She cupped my face in her hands and we stood there for hours. I scratched my arms with the mountains on my fingernails till blood was rain and smelled bad like me. She licked my red flesh and whispered habibi in my ear. Rain kept pouring in blood and we went to her place for homemade fig halwa.
Dead balloons were being pushed by the hot wind like cadavers who had lost all their internal organs. You were drunk and your hat was soiled in too much bacon grease and mint gel. I was watching you light a cigarette and your weight was melting into the plastic chair. It’s my birthday, you said. It wasn’t and you unzipped your pants. I didn’t move and you hissed in my face. The air was smelling in rubber balloons and walmart piss. I looked at my hand and your teeth marks were covered in your teeth marks. Your shirt was sheltering your chest hair in brine like a vacation hammock. Blind girl and choking girl, blind girl and choking girl, I felt the tattoo of your name inside my throat hurting my blood and then you were finished. I cut my mouth on razor blade and ice and left you sleeping in your plastic sweat. Her face was white talc powder and she wiped some on my head. Her eyes never left my body and then I was inside her abaya, cradled in her breasts. She was holding my whole body on her knees and we didn’t say word. She rocked me back and forth and we were surrounded by nothing but heavy smoke from her ylang ylang incense sticks that covered us in a maternal dance. I fell asleep and she never let go, her eyes never left my body and our breasts touched. I woke up screaming because my body was missing and she made me an omelette with cinnamon hearts. We went meat shopping and she kissed me on my mouth and took a selfie. You left me 9 missed calls.
She bought a silk shawl for me at the Indian store on Cote Des Neiges and I took off all my clothes so she could wrap my body like a cocoon. She wrapped us in a sari she had gotten for Natasha’s wedding and gave me her body. I breathed in the faint ylang ylang that ran through my eyes in faint water memory and she licked the salt. I want this like a man, I said. She went on the internet and ordered us matching ylang ylang aromatherapy inhalers. Purple smoke with lit diamonds. You left me 5 missed calls and text messages with ugly words about my ugly body. You also sent one dick pic. She cooked us lamb chops and I blocked your number after saving the dick pic.
The empty jar of Dabur Fem Turmeric Body Bleach felt heavy in my hand. I looked at you and you were staring at me, smoking your 4th cigarette in 30 minutes. She was holding my hand and looking at you. I was leaving and you said it was for the best, there was no other way to get rid of the horrible smell in your apartment. You lit another cigarette and spit on your foot. You looked at me and smirked and I felt my fingers turn to ice. You were pacing now and I lifted my skirt and exposed the white, discolored patches of bleached skin on my legs. I could smell the bad smell and it was nauseating. I wanted to throw up but I decided against it because I didn’t want to smell more bad. I took the Dabur Fem Turmeric Body Bleach and put it on your coffee table and you stopped pacing. I felt my underwear suffocating my pussy and I took it off and placed it next to the bleach. Everything smelled bad and I started to walk out of your apartment. You said, no and then you laughed. I remembered when I had said no and you had laughed then as well. I felt air leave my lungs and you were still laughing.
I stayed up nights in her closet, folding my hands in hers and drawing smiley faces on paper bags. I would cry on her kitchen floor and she would give me head till I’d cum. I came 5 to 6 times every day for months and then I started to touch myself with her watching me. I smelled like cum and sometimes her cum. She showed me how to braid my hair once when I was trimming my pussy hair in her bathtub. We’d go grocery shopping together and she’d kiss me with my eyes closed when we’d pass the cold cuts section. The hair on my body grew brown like unkempt threads. I draw smiley faces on paper bags sometimes when I smell myself and hear you laughing because you can smell me too.
Nooks Krannie is a Palestinian/Persian female writer from Canada. Her work has appeared in Entropy, Eunoia Review, Alien Mouth, The Airgonaut and other online and print journals. She tumbls at http://nkrannie.tumblr.com/ and instagrams @nookskrannie.