Fiction Winner Jessica Purdy

Jan 31, 2018 by

Fiction Winner Jessica Purdy

Looks Just Like the Sun

It was during your Japanese phase. The one inspired by Astro Boy. On our spares we went to your house, smoked weed, ate Mr. Noodles and contemplated a future world full of rocket footed children with helmets of black hair.

Once when your cable was out you put your hand on my thigh and asked if I wanted to mess around. The solicitous you caught me off guard. I didn’t like your practiced half smile. Your hand felt heavy and was clammy even through my jeans. I told you I was on my period. You pulled your hand away and the solicitous you became the awkward you. I knew him better.

Then there was the time you’d just broken up with that girl in the drama club who wore strings of wooden beads and listened to the Grateful Dead. We were at a party. You were drunk and heartbroken. You stumbled through the bonfire. I caught you on the other side, my hands gripping the thick wool of your red and black jacket to keep you up.

You leaned down and kissed me—shoving your rye soaked tongue in my mouth. It tasted sweet and dangerous at the same time. I moved my hand deep in your grunge length brown hair and felt for a split second that it might work. Then you pulled away and threw up in the bushes.

At university your love for Astro Boy turned into love for a Japanese exchange student named Kumiko. Her laugh sounded like change jingling in your pocket and she smelled like raw almonds—even after a night of heavy drinking.

I heard all about your sexual explorations with the alabaster skinned foreigner. You told me that going down on her was like finding the centre of the sun and I fell in love with you. Love grows from more than a metaphor but sometimes all it takes is a clever comparison to summon dormant feelings into a thick pulse.

Eventually Kumiko broke your heart. You insisted we travel to the land of Kumikos so I spent every cent I had on a plane ticket to Tokyo. We set out as tourists our back packs full—mine with beer and yours with Chu Hi, Japanese vodka coolers. You were all about authenticity back then. We moved through fragrant clouds of incense in Buddhist temples—docile mobs in Shinjuku—raked opalescent pebbles in hushed gardens and drank palm-sized cups of green tea.

Walking under a canopy of cherry blossoms, drunk on beer and the beauty of those lace like buds, I felt that most dangerous of emotions—contentment. You walked staring up at the blossoms singing your favourite Leonard Cohen song, “and sometimes when the night is slow, the wretched and the meek, we gather up our hearts and go,” A Thousand Kisses Deep. I wanted for nothing in that moment.

We fell asleep on a patch of grass under a tree that dizzied me with its floral drama and scented my short dreams. I woke up and you were charming a group of Japanese high school girls—their blue uniform skirts short—their white blouses near transparent and the ends of their long black ponytails stiff from being sucked on. I took photos of you in the middle of them and wondered if so many bare legs in knee socks made you hard.

By night we stumbled from bar to bar and I bought you drinks hoping that you would begin to see me—or at the very least settle for me. Instead you got frustrated with the flirtatious, ball busting nature of Japan’s females and moved us to the brothel district.

We stopped at each building so you could study the posters of wide-eyed, large breasted, anime versions of women they had on offer until you found one you liked. Miracle Girl. While you were falling in love with the real life version, I was falling asleep in the waiting room.

When you were done you made me come see Miracle Girl for myself. Laid out long and lean on the bed, her breasts so small that when she arched her back to stretch they were mere pectoral muscles. She pulled the sheets around her until she was wrapped in a kimono of bedding. You pulled on your socks and told me she was fucking amazing. I hated you. It felt as hollow and futile as loving you.

Our trip ended and I decided to get as far away from you as I could. I found an internship in a city that was four hours away and ignored your confused expression the day I moved. You made me mixed tapes for car rides home. I was never more in love with you than the six minutes and fifty three seconds that Jeff Buckley sang Hallelujah. As soon as I stopped for gas the spell was broken.

We spent years maintaining a long distance friendship with my odd visit home, a whirlwind of catching up and avoiding you at the same time. I searched for a man that would compare my genitals to the sun, the moon or the stars, anything celestial would do. I coaxed them between my legs but they all came up speechless and metaphor free.

I blamed you. I missed you. I hated you. I held fake conversations with you. I masturbated to you. I dreamt of you. I forgave you. I didn’t forgive you. I got over you. I wrote to you. I ripped up what I wrote to you. I sent falsely cheery emails to you. I didn’t answer your calls. I called you and hung up.

Then my mother died. You were there waiting for me in an ill-fitting blue blazer. You held my hand and spoke for me when people lined up to tell me how sorry they were. When it was all over and I drank too much wine and sobbed over photos of my mother you took me upstairs and put me to bed.

You let me pull you in close and you kissed me back. You ignored the film of snot on my face and my mumbling about the centre of the sun when you went down on me. You thought I was asleep and sat on the edge of the bed and said, “fuck,” three times in a row. In the morning you were asleep on the couch and acted like you’d never left the refuge of the corduroy sectional.

I didn’t move back to my city that was four hours away. I focused on grieving for my dead mother. Thankful, in some small way, that it was a more profound pain than any you had ever caused me.

Our single act of sex became a dark valley that neither of us would attempt to cross. We allowed texts and emails to construct a new kind of friendship. We spent days having conversations that started in the morning and ended in the night without ever uttering a word.

I forgot what your real voice sounded like and settled for the voice that came into my head each time I read the words of your text. Then you called me and your voice wasn’t the one that I had assigned you.

We met at a pub downtown where we sat in a dark corner. You told me you’d been seeing someone, that it was serious. You told me about her long legs, her Japanese mother and French father, her job at an independent bookstore.

I focused on a man, with dishevelled gray hair wearing dirty coveralls. He was gripping the bar so tightly his knuckles were white. He let go once and fell into a stool. He took hold of the bar again and removed one hand to drink from his pint glass. Whatever was happening to him on the outside was happening to me on the inside.

You leaned in and told me you’d given your long limbed, ethnic goddess an STD. It was most likely from a girl you’d slept with at a party—right before my mom died. You said I should probably go get myself checked out and then seamlessly moved into the news that you were moving in with your book-selling girlfriend.

You thought I was crying because I might have an STD but really I was crying because I realized I liked the text you better than the real you. You apologized for not being there for me more since my mom died. I told you what you should be apologizing for is comparing a woman’s cunt to the sun. You said you had no idea what I was talking about.

The doctor told me I was lucky it hadn’t destroyed my chance of conceiving. I told him it had. The name of the condition made me picture a small blonde child who had inherited her Russian grandmother’s name — pretty and intimidating at the same time.

It was the middle of a workday but I needed to tell you right away. I wasn’t looking for retribution. I just wanted to give you the chance to make up for it. I wanted more from you than a viral souvenir. I made my text sound urgent without giving anything away—because of your tendency to hide.

You arrived in a collared shirt, tie, dress pants and dress shoes. You looked like an adult, one that I could trust but then you told me I looked like shit and I remembered.

I couldn’t bring myself to say the word. So instead I told you that I’d always thought that Astro Boy was a goody two shoes pussy. That Japan had had a bad effect on him and that because of him my vagina was like a sewage pipe instead of the centre of any sun.

I told you that I loved you and never wanted to hear from you again. You let me walk away. I hummed Leonard Cohen’s song A Thousand Kisses Deep and wanted for nothing in that moment.

I’ve been an aspiring writer since the age of eight, now forty-two with two children, a husband and a very old Jack Russell Terrier, the dream lives on in the form of novels waiting to be published, story contest attempts and high hopes.

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