Where are we going now, she wanted to know, but he always put his fingers together, first to his lips, then to hers; with the thumb underneath, he clamped the pointer and middle fingers down on her lips. Sssshhh, he would whisper, and to her it sounded soothing because she couldn’t distinguish sanguine from sinister. Our travels are lubricious, they should open you up. I’m open, she would say; women my age in our country are supposed to have sex with pool men and have manicured yards, luxurious spa vacations and buy artwork that will really mean something when the artist is dead. We can find those you know, Hartmann I believe one’s name is, about to drop dead - and the prices will skyrocket. Sssshhh, and he lured her back in like a siren, darling, look, you can see from here, the tips of Killimanjaro, we’ll climb to the top and you‘ll be exhilarated. It’s been years of going, she says, I want to settle and skirmish and proliferate on the ground, not by sea and air or up on mountains. Sssshhh, he would stroke her hair, his breath would curl around her ears, she’d take it in like chloride gas, it suffocated her senses and she’d acquiesce. Reluctantly, I’m going, but this is the last, the very last, our lives are getting out of hand. Don’t you know, doesn’t your pontificate mind realize how the natives on the island of Kikofar frightened me with their painted pricks and the women with hula-hooped nipples jiggling and jangling, what spirits have they conjured. Not to mention the pirates that raped me with their guns because they were too wasted to use their own appliances, and you all limp, just giving up the ghost, giving up. Sssshhh, and he crooned, darling they loved you for it, let us keep everything, you’re that good. Remember the fruits, the lush kiwi, pomegranates and plantains, when we sprawled out on palm fronds, and drank wine that we made. Darling, we’ve felt kangaroo pouches and rubbed rhinoceros horns, these are things that make us alive, that others don’t get. Anyone, anyone can fondle a gardener, buy shoes and have botox parties, not you darling, though not you, you’re special. She smiles, and looks in her compact, I’ve always known I’m special, they’ve all said so but you were the only one, only one that could get inside. Sssshhh, I know, you know, you don‘t want to go back. The sun was lowering, and he slid her sunglasses across the wrought-iron bistro table. She took them and bit the tips, for good luck she said, better than a rabbit’s foot. Did I tell you about my pink furry claw, she asked, and without an answer she told him how she’d carried it for luck as a child, she’d possessed it always until the soccer boys took her to a party in the city. She lost it up on the roof; it fell from her shirt pocket when she leaned over the edge, as one of the young men had his turn, Harmon she thinks was his name. She watched the pink - ping and bump and skid down the brick face - and she laughed. Her dangly earrings swayed back and forth with Harmon’s motions - or maybe it was Garmon - she paused and bit the tip of the shades - but she listened to the music of the bangles, like a soundtrack, watched the rabbit’s foot bounce. As soon as it landed a child picked it up, and looked up and just saw her head rocking, rocking back and forth at the top of the building. Sssshhh, those days are way beneath and behind you sweetheart, we don’t even need to know they existed. There’s only you and me and the whole wide world. Do you need some suntan lotion, he cooed as he flipped the cap. I think you’re getting too much sun, he wooed and diverted her mind from days gone by. You know they say we can ride a rocket soon, why don’t you buy me a rocket, she said. We could go to the moon, alone, and then for sure you could keep me all to yourself, that’s what you’re doing, right? She took a bottle of nail polish from her tote, and shook it, the little beads sounding like tiny dice, like a tiny marching band, and the color was “moonlight blue” or maybe “starlight pink” because in the afternoon, the night colors look the same after sun is burned into eyesight. As she painted she began to hum the star spangled banner, off-key. Sssshhh, he said like butter on toast, he melted on her. We could find out about that, indeed, that would take your feet off the ground and you might never ever have to think about the past again. Or the future. You don’t need the responsibility of yards, and table games, and time tables. You have so much to give, love, you are. You just are. Her nose crinkled, like it always did when she got compliments from him; from others a compliment would swell her chest, or slim her hips, but only from him did it hit a nerve. Do you think you’ll be ready, please with me, will you soon, she begged. Her fingers traced hearts on his chest, down his stomach, her tongue followed. Will it be soon, she questioned. Sssshhh, he lifted her face because it wasn’t time for him, yet, worse than a eunuch, he had to wait. He picked up the bell, and the cook came on deck. Why do we have to…, she started, but as always he put his fingers together, first to his lips, then to hers; with the thumb underneath, he clamped the pointer and middle finger down on her lips. Sssshhh. They stared into the distance as the shoreline got closer and the mountain disappeared. She turned to the boy and started to quieten.
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