, , , , , , , , , ,

by Veronica Montes

When I touched him that first time, it was by accident. The second time was on purpose. I left scratches in my wake, and the scent of toasted almonds rose snakelike from the wounds. Intrigued, I bit into the tender flesh at the base of his throat. He tasted of crushed sesame, sweet crab meat, bits of cassia bark. He slapped me lightly across the mouth.

This is when things could have gone one way, but went another.

I’m sorry, he said. I licked his tears to stop them, and they were honeyed and sharp like li hing mui. Later, as we fell asleep in his apartment, I wondered if I should tell anyone that I’d found him. This scratch-and-sniff boy, this all-you-can-eat buffet boy.

Of course I told. I told everyone. By the end of May, he had wandered into the soft arms of my friends, into their supplicating palms and bright, searching mouths. I have since learned to hide my secrets, but I can’t find one, now, worth keeping.

Veronica Montes is the author of Benedicta Takes Wing & Other Stories, which was published by Philippine American Literary House in January 2018. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America and Going Home to a Landscape, as well as in journals including SmokeLong QuarterlyBamboo Ridge, and PRISM International. Website: veronica-montes.com. Twitter: @vmontes.