It has been a hot day, and Micheline idly scratches her underaram as she removes her work blouse and replaces it with the t shirt she slept in last night. If she avoids checking e-mail, she might get to bed at a decent hour. Her third work night in a row. Her bodily smell comforts her. Reminds her of creatively fruitful times.
The knock at her front door is unprecedented. It is nearly eleven. The lives on a dirty but reassuringly busy street. Is it better to ignore it, as every particle of her wishes to do? If someone’s out trying locks, best they think someone’s home. She presses her face against the mail slot. It creaks faintly; the corner hurts her cheek. Her heart skitters. She will call out gruffly, “Who is it?” But no sound comes, as in a dream. There is a man there. He is unusually short. Mustn’t he be, for her to see his profile so close to the mail slot? She sees every white bristle on his face. Which is suddenly pressed against hers. Clean sweat, tongue, wetness, odd sounds. She sees that tan placket at the top of faded Levi 501’s He is gone. Her porch light illuminates dust-furred pots of succulents and that is all. She has tasted another person’s mouth. It has been years.
Now she is left with her hands on the cool wall, regarding the oil painting her grandmother left her, the vertical image of dewy cotton bolls. She presses herself to the mail slot again, hurts her cheek again. Opens her mouth and closes her eyes.
Bidar means awake. Patricia Bidar is a writer and California native looking forward to life’s third act.