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by Stephen Kelly

I remember our first date. I remember her lipstick smudged her teeth. I remember the leopard print scarf around her neck. I remember she smelled like lavender, lavender and cigarettes and bubble gum. I remember the little blonde hairs on her arms. I remember she laughed at my joke about the monkey and the ventriloquist. I remember how her eyebrows scrunched together when she studied the menu. I remember she ordered steak, rare. I remember how she twisted a lock of her hair around her finger. I remember her nose bent a little to the left. I remember the shade of her fingernail polish, like a beating heart. I remember the freckles on her cheeks. I remember the curve of her back. I remember wondering about the scrapes on her knuckles. I remember she sawed her steak in big chunks and chewed like a wolverine. I remember the heels she wore, gold like the pope’s tiara. I remember my head nearly caught on fire when our legs grazed under the table. I remember she pulled me to the dance floor when the band started playing Woodchopper’s Ball. I remember I almost died when our hips bumped. I remember she threw her head back and howled. I remember the dark look on her face when a man walking past bumped her shoulder. I remember she called him a motherfucker. I remember being very surprised that she called him a motherfucker. I remember he called her a very bad name I won’t repeat. I remember he was very large and his hair was slicked back and his mustache drooped at the edges. I remember he had two friends with him. I remember one of them had a scar across his mouth. I remember having concerns. I remember she stood chest to chest with the first man and told him to back off if he didn’t want to get hurt. I remember I noticed for the first time the tattoo on her shoulder of a gun pointed at a bunny. I remember the man laughed and called her another bad name, this one even worse than the first. I remember the other men laughed too. I remember her eyes narrowed. I remember she clenched her teeth. I remember she balled her hands into fists. I remember she swung up and gouged the man in the eye with her thumb. I remember she did it again. I remember he yowled. I remember she jumped on him and they fell to the floor. I remember getting knocked to the floor too. I remember the band stopped playing. I remember screams. I remember her punching the man over and over in the face. I remember blood. I remember the other men trying to pry her off. I remember her getting thrown in the air. I remember her landing on her feet like a jaguar. I remember her grabbing my hand and yanking me up. I remember flying through the restaurant. I remember shrieks and spilled champagne. I remember running down the boardwalk, running, running. I remember her giggling. I remember the wind and the salt spray of the sea. I remember shouts behind us. I remember a loud bang. I remember thinking I am going to die. I remember her pulling me down an alley. I remember stepping on something that scurried away. I remember we ducked into a doorway. I remember we pressed into the shadows. I remember footsteps coming at us. I remember we were chest to chest. I remember her breath on my neck. I remember she pulled me close. I remember she tasted like wine.


Stephen Kelly lives with his wife and son in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Deep Overstock and 1001 Journal.

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