The marks blooming in her skin would be funny if you got to know her. She thought of them as quirky stamps of her personality, each drilled in like a tattoo or shiny, hidden piercing, only to become a subconscious part of her, like the color of her eyes, her hair, or her pumping heart. She and two friends hurried down the city street, their sharp boots clicking pavement like hollowed stones, and silver gems lining the strap of her fitted tank pressed into the purpled skin on her shoulder—she bit her lip, tasted peppermint gloss and the bare flavor of other nights just like this one.
It was 42 degrees.
Hugging herself, she felt her pulse mimic the green and blue lights knocking the tinted windows of the club ahead and hoped to find a guy to talk to tonight, one who would question and listen. Who would really want to know.
Inside, the colors flashed with the throbbing bass, colliding with her body and blinking fluorescence off wet teeth, eye whites, and crescent fruit skins split over rims of glowing cocktails. The drinks went down smooth and easy, one after the other. She lost her friends in the crowd and leaned in, bumping the lip of the bar with her elbow, wanting him to notice her ordering a rosebud martini.
That’s edible, ya know, he said, as the drink cradled a red hibiscus in its pink slush. He nodded in sync with a tilt of his beer, and she sipped his spruce scent, touched her lip to the chill of sugar and roses.
Edible? she teased, then plucked the flower from the glass, wiped its petal with her tongue, and took a bite.
His name was Neil, and his pillow was a warm blue she hugged in the morning, his sheets lost somewhere on the floor. Shoulder, belly, hip: his fingers slid along her skin as she searched his face, his touch making a stop at each bruise.
Can I ask you something? he said, and he would be the first to ever ask, the first she’d ever tell and be able to laugh with about it; the bedframe, chair, edge of his dresser—none of it too rigid for her to rush her body past as she headed for the bathroom holding her studded top to her bare chest and not answering him yet, because she wanted to do it right, explain with just the right, endearing words how funny it all was, her bruises born of pure clumsiness and Bam! she clipped her side on the bathroom doorknob.
He laughed. And she wondered if he even knew her name as she closed herself in the room and felt her ribcage beat with the blood that would later turn black in her skin, just like the spot on her elbow and all of the other marks that had faded and that she expected, one day, would be funny.