Heads entwined, you read Duras’ The Lover while I peered over at the orange-eating, dowdy woman clutching her pearls across from us. Is she still looking at us?, you whispered out the side of your mouth. I nodded, gurning at her. You grabbed my inner thigh, working your fingers into my cut skin like a sculptor with his clay. We’d have skinny dipped in the river if it weren’t for the astringent hailstorm. Upon our arrival, we stopped at the Les Deux Magots; a place we would spend most of our days. I took out my notebook and pen. You look like a sexy librarian. I want to bend you over this table. These were things you said under the cover of flaky pastry and affogato. Ah, I always wanted an older man, the waitress remarked after discovering your age. She even let you have extra cream for your hot chocolate. We played footsie under the table. Darlin’, would you be my beaver, like Beauvoir? There was a young woman teaching her son how to count with sugar cubes. No, no, baby, that’s not it, is what you picked up with the little knowledge you had of the local parlance. Remember what Sartre said; L’enfer, c’est les autres. Hell is always other people. Hell is the disease that took you from me—the disease that means none of this really happened. It should have happened. God, what a life full of bad luck and tragedy. The Cancer who died of cancer. The Gemini who only knows two things; obsession and depression. Let me dream of you tonight. Let me touch you. Let me light your cigar. Fill my lungs with smoke, so I may feel something other than this tender agony. Make me bleed for you. Please.

strapped and gagged, foie gras
folds taste buds tarty like girl
red and blue, green too.

Courtenay Schembri Gray is a writer from the North of England. You’ll find her work in an array of journals such as A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Misery Tourism, Expat Press, Rejection Letters, Hobart, and many more. She will often post on her blog: www.courtenayscorner.com. Follow her on Twitter @courtenaywrites and Instagram @courtenaywrites.