tea

Burn Premature
by Kara Clark

Weak breakfast tea brimmed in a hot-handled mug; marinara pooled and scalded in a spoon; her first bite of stewed potato seared her palate while she chewed, stripped a swatch of skin free as she swallowed . . .

She tongues this patch of gum’s tender texture. It’s still spongy and un-slimed, slightly warm. Today’s impatient eating has burnt up her tongue’s tip too, which is bulleted with taste buds bulged and aching.

She sits bristled and sipping at the island. Who will refill her cobalt blue glass?

Her manicured talons tap atop a gray square case, blunted thuds on a velvet box snapped shut.

Just imagine her surprise: emerald earrings!

Even gulps of room-cool water bring her pain.

The man, sole owner of their home, drives downtown toward any dark bar strewn with wilted women thirsting. He’ll get the chills from icy drinks, how they’ll eye his bill-thick wallet. He’s inflamed with her hasty way of ruining . . .

He’d unpocketed the jewel box as she scrubbed the stew-dregged plates, set it sink-side, got the velvet wet. He didn’t kneel but she’d had no expectation; she’d altered daydreams to make more room for his pride.

A cooling billowed down through her body then, the kind she’d feel cheek down on the kitchen’s marble floor. She had waited for this feeling all day (all her life?): the surprise chill of acceptance, of security.

“I’ll wash my hands, before I try it on.”

“It?” he replied, her cheeks waxing green, a mimicry of the stones but much more sickly.

“Why not marry me instead of throwing money in my face?”

Silence swelled where he thought she should retract.

Did each truly shock the other with their saved insults and names, what almost-spouses secretly collect…?

She now sips her glass empty full of pride, earrings on. She can pass through the heat of any moment.

Kara Clark‘s writing has previously appeared on Sleepingfish and HTMLGIANT. She lives in Brooklyn, near its largest cemetery.

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