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Hunger

 

@ezragrammings


There is an ache in the centre of me and I don’t know if it’s loneliness or stress or simply hunger. Thus, I stand in my boxers at 3.45 pm and attempt to cook enough pasta to cure all three. Dust has moulded to my sweat, forming a thin chrysalis and making my skin feel starched. My joints are stiff and every movement leaves a heavy crease behind.

I brewed decaf this morning in a half-hearted attempt to relax, so by evening my movements are lethargic. Everything is a little dull to my senses; every thought slowly dredging up through the layers of my cotton-wool brain; every action or reaction coming on the heels of a several second delay.

I sit on a leather sofa and stick to the veneer of it. It has twenty-three cracks on the left arm. I know this because I counted them an hour ago, when the friend who dragged me here left to get a drink and never returned. The air is so humid it’s turned to syrup. The ceiling fans circle as if dragging through river water. Everything smells of bodies and stale spirits. And I think about how, when I recall this night, it will be in a vignette of noise. I ask the guy who just paid for my drink about his work so he’ll spend a while speaking loudly about something I can ignore. I use the time to breathe and try to stop thinking so much about my own face and how I’m still hungry. He’s sitting very close and he seems the type who writes poetry and I like the idea of falling in love, so I let him take me home to his studio apartment two suburbs East of the city.

After, when he has finished twice and I have once, I lay sticky between the thighs and wondering if I should stop at the store on the way home. I’m down to the last of my toothpaste. His duvet is a garish mustard colour and the fern on the windowsill is half-dead, curling in on itself like brittle silly string. He strides across the floor to the kitchen and I watch the way his ass dimples when he moves each leg, his pubic hair a dark tumbleweed before the open refrigerator. He pours out chilled water and while his fingerprints leave a ghost the outside of each glass, he doesn’t touch me again, because the sex is over.

We give up within a few baren sentences of pillow talk and he turns on his television to play Mario Kart. The sound isn’t as loud as the toneless din of traffic on the highway. Neon flashes spin over our nakedness. The crooks of my elbows and knees are damp. I beat him then let him win two-out-of-three so there’s no hard feelings.

When I stand he says I can stay overnight if I’d like, but he doesn’t mean it and he doesn’t look away from the screen. I slide back into my trousers and decline his offer to pay my taxi fare. Later, I realise I should have taken it, or more, because it didn’t make a difference to him. But the tram sounds like the ocean if you close your eyes, and I have the entire compartment to myself.

The city tastes different at night. As I walk I try to breathe everything in before daylight can snatch it back. Shadows pool treacly in the dips between street lamps and the dark makes the air shiver like a single keening violin note. When it settles in the bed of my lungs I feel the pressure in my body finally equal the pressure outside. Even in the smallest of hours traffic lights flick from red and green for no-one and shop windows glow vacantly. An empty street doesn’t feel empty, just hollow and singing; hungry.

 

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