Download this episode (right click and save)

And here’s the RSS feed: http://glittership.podbean.com/feed/

Episode 45 is part of the Summer 2017 issue!

Support GlitterShip by picking up your copy here: http://www.glittership.com/buy/

 

 

 

Nostalgia

by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Tori takes another hit of nostalgia; the smoke is creamy mint cookie down her throat, smooth and hot. It fills her lungs, tickles, burns, and as she coughs it out she laughs, smoke pouring from her lips. Fog fills her head. The live oaks’ winter skeletons crisp into focus as the drug takes hold. Tori feels the cold on her skin as if she is a little girl in the snow, her hand in her father’s glove, surrounded by his smell of smoke and vodka. Her mother hates the cold but watches from the window. Tori’s belly is full. It hasn’t been this full for years, not since home, that word a lighthouse beacon she will never again reach without this burn of throat, cloud of mind, her parents having pushed her out once they met her first girlfriend. Tori passes the pipe to her companion.

 

[Full transcript after the cut.]

 

 

Hello! Welcome to GlitterShip episode 46 for September 21, 2017. This is your host, Keffy, and I’m super excited to be sharing this story with you. Our story for today is a reprint by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “Nostalgia.”

Content warning for the good, the bad, and the ugly: sex, drug addiction, and references to stalking.


 

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s fiction and poetry has appeared in over 40 magazines such as ClarkesworldLightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and Selected Shorts’ Stella Kupferberg Memorial Prize. Her audio fiction-jazz collaborative album Strange Monsters was released from Easy Brew Studio in April 2016. You can find her online at www.bonniejostufflebeam.com or on Twitter @BonnieJoStuffle.

 


Nostalgia

by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

 

 

Tori takes another hit of nostalgia; the smoke is creamy mint cookie down her throat, smooth and hot. It fills her lungs, tickles, burns, and as she coughs it out she laughs, smoke pouring from her lips. Fog fills her head. The live oaks’ winter skeletons crisp into focus as the drug takes hold. Tori feels the cold on her skin as if she is a little girl in the snow, her hand in her father’s glove, surrounded by his smell of smoke and vodka. Her mother hates the cold but watches from the window. Tori’s belly is full. It hasn’t been this full for years, not since home, that word a lighthouse beacon she will never again reach without this burn of throat, cloud of mind, her parents having pushed her out once they met her first girlfriend. Tori passes the pipe to her companion.

“I haven’t done nostalgia in years,” Kay says. “Since I was in college. Homesick.”

“No pressure,” Tori says. “Just offering.”

Her new friend confuses her; she’s never been with a slate before, and even though Kay is pre-op, it’s taken some concentration not to mix up the pronouns. Shu¸ Tori practices on nights that Kay does not sleep over. Shur. Still, she’s messed up a couple of times, accidentally said she instead of shu, her instead of shur. Kay does not seem to mind these slip-ups, and it is because of this easy-goingness that Tori has let Kay into her head nearly as much as nostalgia.

Kay flicks the lighter over the blue-black herb but does not inhale. Instead shu watches the leaves char in the pipe’s bowl.

“Hey, knock it off.” Tori grabs the pipe, the lighter. “Don’t waste it.”

“Sorry.” Kay shrugs shur thick shoulders; the grey scarf around shur neck shifts in the breeze. Tori itches to bat the decorative balls which hang from it but doesn’t.

Instead she remembers. When she was a little girl, she had an orange cat who batted at her scarves. Another cat in college, living with that first girlfriend, Meredith. Meredith’s skin against her own, protection from the cold, a laugh like medicine she didn’t know she needed.

“You okay?” Kay asks, squeezing the nub of her shoulder. Tori opens her eyes. She had closed them without realizing. This is sad to her, like the day Meredith moved up north.

“Fine,” she says. “Cold is all.”

Later, atop the flannel red-and-white holiday sheets, Tori closes her eyes again and imagines familiar fingers, longer and thinner than Kay’s, inside her, lets the nostalgia hum within like a tongue, lets herself dissolve into the memory of love. One day, she thinks, kissing the nape of Kay’s bare neck, shu will feel like memory, shur blank, nippleless chest a comfort of familiarity rather than this stiff newness, this gloss. Tori wants it dull like a pencil worn to the nub.

When they are finished, breathless in one another’s embrace, Tori burrows her face in the hair of Kay’s armpits, the smell of animal musk and orgasm. As the nostalgia wears off, a veil lifts on this moment, the past fogging instead like a breathed-upon window. Kay’s skin is real under her ear, the drum of shur heartbeat a surge through her. It makes her own heart beat faster, her palms sweat. She swallows her spit. To quiet the silence, she pulls her face from the sweat of Kay’s body and examines shur in the room’s dark.

“Your photographs,” she says, “they’re good.”

Kay laughs. “I know. Is that the only reason you’re with me?”

Tori lets her head fall back into place. She knows that Kay is not comfortable enough yet to push, and the question is difficult to answer. Yes, she should say, the photographs. But this would be too much. It would stress her throat, already sore from the smoke. Behind her eyes she recalls them, the photographs, dancers leaping from frame to frame like in a flip-book.

Tori had glimpsed Kay every day at the college as Kay walked past Tori mopping the same spot again and again, trying to look busy so that she would not have to catch Kay’s eye. Because she knew who Kay was, had seen shur picture in the school paper, had heard shur name repeated back when Tori was a student, back before her only affiliations with the school were the mop and broom they issued her, the paycheck they sent her monthly for cleaning the classrooms and bathrooms of the art buildings.

Whenever Tori had a moment, she stopped to stare at Kay’s photographs. Once she dared to touch them; she wanted to see if the dancer was real, some little person imprisoned in the film, forced to tango and ballet and flamenco hour after hour, day after day, year after year, but it was just paper under Tori’s finger, glossy as what would be Tori and Kay’s future bedroom shenanigans. The dancers were always slates, or disguised as slates. Tori couldn’t believe there could be so many of them in Riddle, Texas, their small college town. And the way they changed from photo to photo, like devils. Like angels. Like monsters. Like memories Tori struggled to remember without the help of smoke down her throat.

“Do you want to learn how to take them?” Kay asks. “I can teach you. I think you’d be good at it.”

The idea sends a shiver down Tori’s spine; it both intrigues and terrifies her. Too new.

“I can’t,” she says.

 

Tori is at the sink filling a glass with water when Meredith knocks at the kitchen door.

“Whose car is that outside?” Meredith asks as she pushes past Tori. “You better not dance for her, whoever she is.” In the time since she has been away, she’s shaved the sides of her head so that the middle patch of hair falls over two bald spots. “If you dance for her, I swear.”

It isn’t a surprise to see Meredith there, but also it is a surprise, as each time she shows up it sends a shock down Tori’s belly to her groin. A Pavlov’s bell. Tori leaves the faucet on, lets the water run over the sides of the glass and down the drain.

“I don’t dance,” Tori says, leaning against the sink, digging her hands into the pockets of her pajama pants.

“Bullshit you don’t dance,” Meredith says. “We used to dance all the time.”

“Not anymore. I only danced with you.”

Meredith’s smile dimples her cheeks. She looks stronger, thicker; from her letters, Tori knows that she’s been climbing rocks, running races, cycling across mountains until her muscles quiver. “Prove it,” she says.

Even though Kay is in the other room, asleep with shur head on Tori’s pillow, Tori’s belly aches for a kiss she knows the taste of. Berries and salt. If she could bury her head in Meredith’s hair, she would smell the slick oil sweet. She knows this. She knows, too, the way Meredith will move against her in a dance of sweat, the way Meredith will not let Tori touch her. The way she will, once Tori is gasping in her arms, jump up and disappear to the bathroom, how she will emerge flushed and breathless. How she will say, “I took care of it myself.” And how Tori will accept this. She knows, too, that as they sit on the couch with their legs intertwined, Meredith will not ask about Kay.

Sure enough, it happens like that. Meredith is out the door twenty minutes later. When Tori crawls back into bed, Kay rolls over and kisses the top of her forehead.

“I don’t care, you know, about her,” Kay says. “I think you’ll find I’m pretty open-minded.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Tori closes her eyes and counts the hours until she can light up again.

 

When she runs out of nostalgia, she calls up her high school friend, Logan. He and her other friends from that time have never left the small town where they all grew up together, Agape, where they spent weekends downing stolen vodka and imbibing a rainbow assortment of drugs until nostalgia became their drug of choice.

One hour’s drive south and Tori is knocking on Logan’s door. Logan answers, his skintight jeans smeared with forgotten food particles. His eyes are red as emergency exit letters. When he wraps his arms around her, she feels as though this moment has already occurred. Déjà vu. But of course it’s happened before, at least once every two weeks for the last six years of her life.

“You have some?” she asks.

Logan leads her by the hand back to his room, where four old friends and one man Tori has never seen sit around a hookah. Inside his parents’ house everything is the same: the same black curtains drawn across every window, the same stuffed moose head mounted above the neglected fireplace, the same smell of stale smoke and semen-filled napkins left too long in Logan’s wastebasket. The coal atop the hookah smolders redder than their eyes. As Tori’s eyes adjust, her chest constricts; it’s a scene straight from senior year when she didn’t yet know who she was, when she hadn’t yet grown into her own skin, was still shy and ashamed of herself, awkward in her body. This is a thought she struggles to swallow every time she comes here. Instead she takes the pipe they pass her and sucks in the rancid smoke.

Once her eyes match theirs, she feels right again. She looks from face to face in the circle. Back in the day, they used to sneak into the woods to smoke this stuff. They would break into a rundown shed and sit on a ratty couch that smelled of mildew. They nearly got caught by the cops a couple of times, but they were young. Maybe that is the difference, Tori thinks, I know now that I can crumble like charred nostalgia. There was another one of them back then, a boy Tori thought for a while that she loved. They let Daniel be their leader, clung to his every word. She let him be her first boy. The only mistake she ever admitted to.

She recalls his lips on her neck, his fingers tracing the necklace he slipped around her neck like a collar. This is not the way, he said, this is not the way to love you. Even though his raving words made no sense, she believed them.

Later she realized he wasn’t right in the head. He smoked too much. Took other drugs. Shot some into his veins. Back then, especially, it had been nothing more than cigarettes and booze pilfered from the bottom shelves of their parents’ vice cabinets for the rest of them. They left Daniel to his own.

“Are you staying for a while?” Annie asks.

“I don’t think so,” Tori says, taking another hit. This one tastes like day-old salad in her throat. A bad hit. She pulls her water bottle from her purse and tries to swallow the taste. “I have to get back.”

“It’s okay,” Logan says. “Big college grad, we know you’re not like us anymore.”

Nothing could be closer and farther from the truth.

 

At home Tori arranges the baggie of nostalgia in a cedar box where she also keeps papers and a glass pipe with a rainbow flower blown onto it. She calls Kay and asks shur to come over.  When shu arrives, shu has brought along a digital camera which shu hands to Tori like a holy relic. The camera is red and feels heavy in Tori’s palm.

“It’s neat,” Tori says, thrusting it back at Kay. “Is it new?”

Kay won’t take it back. Instead shu stands by Tori’s side and shows her how to turn it on.

“It’s for you,” shu says. Shu arranges Tori’s fingers over the buttons, uses Tori’s hand like a puppet to take a photograph of the window in Tori’s living room. “You have an eye for this,” shu says. “Don’t waste it.”

“I can’t take this,” Tori says. It feels hard and slick and smells of new plastic. She hates the smell. She tries again to give it back, and when Kay won’t take it, her fingers go limp. The camera falls to the carpet with a thud.

Kay leaves it where it has fallen. Takes Tori’s hands in shur own and kisses the knuckles. “It’s okay,” shu says. “You don’t have to.” Lets shur lips graze the hairs on Tori’s arms, kisses the mole on her neck, kisses her eyebrows. Unbuttons her. Tori can tell shu wants to disrobe all of her, peel off her skin even, see inside her body like an X-ray. But Tori won’t let shur.

Kay’s body will change after shur operation. Tori isn’t sure that she will be okay with this. Thinking of Kay’s body as something she will have to get used to twice leaves a heavy food feeling in her stomach. Although she’s familiar with the way a typical slate body looks post-op – she took a class on gender and sexuality at the university – she wishes she could have met shu once she was already complete, once shu had already grown into the new skin, the smooth Barbie V between shur legs. At least, Tori thinks as she runs her hands over the flat chest she has made a fascination, Kay got this part out of the way before we met.

“I won’t know what to do with you,” Tori whispers, “after the operation.”

Kay’s voice, usually calm, is hard-edged when shu responds. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Tori isn’t one hundred percent sure. She laughs at herself. When is she ever?

“I just wish, you know, that we’d met once you were complete.” She thinks it might help if she explains, but she can’t seem to spit the words out. Not without time. She wishes she could freeze the moment and collect herself, but the world doesn’t grant wishes that way.

“Complete?” Kay pushes Tori off shur chest. “I’m just as complete now as I’ll ever be. I’ll be more comfortable in my skin, sure, but I’m not incomplete. And besides,” shu says, “you’re one to talk. What are you doing with your life? You think your reason for living is so you can clean other people’s messes?” Shu stops, though Tori can tell shu wants to go on. Then shu looks away. “I’m sorry,” shu says. Shu doesn’t wait for Tori to say anything, and Tori isn’t sure she would say anything given the chance.

Once Kay has gone, Tori loads a bowl, tripping over the camera on her way back to bed. She kicks it underneath the couch like the soccer ball she and her father used to pass back and forth out in the cool green grass, tinged with dew, until the chill on her bare feet became too much and her father would carry her inside and lower her onto the dry carpet. It’s a memory empty of the sound of ice clinking in a glass, empty of the alcohol smell. She scrunches her toes against the carpet, a dirty shag she hasn’t vacuumed in at least a month. It doesn’t feel the same. If the world granted wishes, she would wish that it would feel the same.

 

The bonfire in Tori’s yard is already blazing when Meredith skids into Tori’s gravel drive on her Harley. It has been three days since Tori’s fight with Kay, and she is surprised to see Meredith so soon after the last visit. It’s surprising not to have to reacquaint herself; it’s nice. The fire’s warmth makes her bare legs burn.

“Long time no see,” Tori says.

“I missed you,” Meredith says.

Tori has known Meredith long enough to decipher this code. What she means to say is, she couldn’t stand the thought of Tori with someone else. And so she has returned. Tori takes another hit in the hopes that she can convince herself that this time will be forever. They sit by the fire.

“Can’t believe you still do this shit,” Meredith says, lighting the bowl.

“And you don’t?”

Meredith laughs. “I didn’t say that. Just, you were always so smart, Tori. Smarter than any of us. I figured you’d grow up faster.”

Tori doesn’t want to think about it. She blows smoke from her nose. The burn makes her body tremble the way fingers will, later, when the two of them are once more wrapped in Tori’s sheets. Tori recalls that first time, when Meredith pushed her onto her own bed. Took control of Tori’s room without asking. Tori loved that she didn’t ask. She felt in capable hands. They made love to B.B. King on repeat. When they woke in the morning, the air was too hot for such closeness, but they clung to each other anyway. They turned off the music and let the noise of their breath soothe them back into fevered half-sleep.

“Where’s the old gang?” Meredith dumps the cashed bowl into the fire. “Call them up.”

Once Meredith left, there was nothing more to hold their group of college friends together, though during the five years of undergrad they spent every weekend together. Meredith had been glue, and none of them had ever noticed, not even Tori, who had felt her sticky sweat-soaked skin. But Tori still has their numbers.

An hour later, three chairs around the bonfire have filled with the warm bodies Tori used to cling to, sloppy with drink and smoke, as they stumbled home from evenings of smoke circles and study sessions, one-night stands and late-night movie marathons. When Daniel wouldn’t stop calling, even two years after the breakup, it was these friends who, never having known him, demanded he leave her alone. Only two of their old gang is able to make it; the rest, like Meredith, moved away from Riddle after graduation. Still, looking from face to face around the fire is like looking four years into the past, and Tori’s body hums, static building under skin. She wants nothing more than to run through the field surrounding her house, to float kites as Meredith scribbles poetry in her little black notebook. Always Tori used to wonder if Meredith was writing about her. Then she knew she never was; instead she wrote of the foreign places she disappeared to more and more those days. A fantastic life she hadn’t asked Tori to be part of.

Once the beer has been drained and the empty bottles tossed into the fire in hopes that they will burst, once they have finished off the last of the nostalgia, leaving only ash and a charred roach to burn, they sit back in their chairs and dream of running, though in reality none of them could summon the energy. The hum takes Tori over like an orgasm that never stops. She feels as if, for the first time since graduation, since she lost her place in this college town, she is home.

The hum intensifies. It vibrates her legs and creeps up into the space between her legs. For a moment she remembers Kay. Then forgets. Then it is Meredith again, Meredith’s dimpled smile, her soft thighs. Music that she recognizes.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Meredith slurs, clapping her hand over Tori’s pants pocket, where Tori’s phone has been ringing.

The phone feels strange in her sweaty palm, like an object that was never meant to be in this world. The caller ID tells her before she picks up that Logan’s will be the voice on the other end of the line.

“I’m sorry,” Logan says when she picks up. “I had to tell you. Daniel killed himself two weeks ago.”

A wave of numb travels from her ear to her feet. Her stomach flops as if she has swallowed sour milk. She can feel Daniel all of a sudden. His hands like a bandage across her wrist, pulling her onto his bed while his parents were away. Refusing to let go of her hand in the night. Saying, if something ever happened to you. If anyone ever hurt you. And she knew, back then, that he was damaged. Had seen his own stepfather’s dead body hanging from the ceiling. Had heard the fights from the other side of thin walls for all his childhood. She thought he was strong, thought he had grown from these experiences. How, she wanted and did not want to ask. So she didn’t. She could feel his lips down her neck and thought of how those lips would go blue-black in the earth.

“God,” she says, as if she believes in Him. “How do you know?”

“His mom called me today. Got my number from his phone.”

Meredith’s hand grips her knee, travels up her leg. Tori doesn’t think to stop her.

“Is there a funeral?”

“No. They had a secret funeral already. But we’re having a memorial, next weekend. We’re going to the barn. We’ll say a few words about him, you know. We’re meeting at my house. If you want to come. If you can stay a while.”

“I’ll be there,” Tori says.

The phone goes quiet. Meredith doesn’t ask who it was, what it was, and Tori moves her leg so that Meredith’s hand falls away.

“What’s up?” Meredith asks, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Daniel’s dead. Killed himself.”

Meredith’s eyes widen. “Are you okay?” she asks.

“Will you go to the memorial with me next weekend?”

“I can’t. I have a family thing next weekend, out of town. I already told them I’d go.”

“Right.” Tori nods, though what Meredith said seems strange, like déjà vu again. Tori remembers her grandfather’s death, how her tears made Meredith anxious, how Meredith shrugged stiffly, told Tori she had to leave. That she had a family reunion to go to. Left Tori on the edge of her bed, clutching her own shaking body. “Right,” Tori says.

Tori leaves the fire, goes inside, locks the door behind her. No one bothers her for hours, and when they do, she ignores the knocks, the pleas to please let them in to use the restroom. She googles Daniel’s name. She finds an old arrest brief from Daniel’s breaking-and-entering charge, which happened the year after college. Daniel had called her about it, drunk and sorry for himself. But there is no obituary, no news of a suicide. She searches for hours and finds nothing more, her fingers a fever on the keys, her mind a blank race of guilty thoughts. Could she have saved him? She wishes she had someone to tell her that she couldn’t have. But it sounds as if, outside, the party has moved on.

It’s the hour of nothing good when there is another knock at the door.

“Please open up,” Kay says. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”

When Tori opens the door, Kay wraps shur arms around her. Tori shakes in shur embrace. “What’s wrong?” Kay asks, running shur hands through Tori’s hair. “What happened?”

Tori tells shur everything. “Doesn’t it sound fishy?” she asks. “There’s nothing, nothing at all online about him.”

“It’s weird, but maybe they just wanted to keep it secret. Don’t tear yourself up about this, okay? Listen, I’ll go with you, if you want, to the memorial.”

Tori lets herself disappear beneath Kay’s armpit. Breathes in the musk smell. She will let shur take care of her. Will let shur hold her and hide her from the light. Will let shur apologize for her and, yes, even love her.

 

Having grown up in the city, Kay says during the drive down from Riddle, shu has never been in a town like Agape.

“As you can see, you’re not missing much,” Tori says as she navigates the car along the one road which curves like a snake through the small town, from the high school to the diner to the post office to the elementary to the gated community of houses which could fit five of Tori’s tiny duplex within their walls. This is her past, laid bare without the itch in the throat, though Tori has brought along the last of her nostalgia for the memorial.

“I bet you could take some great photographs here,” Kay says as they pass the stone mega church. “Will the memorial be there?”

The memorial. For the length of the drive, she let herself forget, but now she must remember. Every bitter detail. There will be no turning around. For the last week she has felt on edge, always shaking in the night, looking every day for information, calling up old friends to see if they have heard. And no one else has.

“No,” Tori says. “Not there.”

To stop her shaking, and because she cannot, at the moment, go on to Logan’s, Tori stops at the town’s only coffee shop, a little place with crosses on the walls and in a jewelry case at the front counter. The young man behind the counter is someone Tori used to know, an old friend. Jaden. She wonders why, smart boy like him, he never got out of this place.

“How are you?” he asks, smiling briefly at Kay before looking back to Tori. Kay stands with shur arms in shur jacket pockets.

Tori shrugs. “Okay enough, considering the occasion.”

“What occasion?”

He doesn’t know, she realizes with cold dread. Although he and Daniel were never best friends, were never lovers, they were close. As if shu can read her, Kay grabs her hand.

“Daniel’s dead,” Tori says. “Killed himself.”

“What? When was this?” Jaden says.

“Three weeks ago.”

He laughs. The sound is a fire alarm. When he realizes Tori isn’t laughing with him, he opens his mouth, shuts it. “I saw Daniel at the general store last night. He was fine.”

Cold dread is becoming as familiar as a fever. Because this news is neither good nor bad; it moves into her gut and twists her insides.

“Excuse me,” she says, and she rushes from the coffee shop, the door’s jingle a throb in her head. Beside the car, she calls Logan. He answers on the first ring.

“Where are you?” he asks. “You’re late. The rest of the gang is here already. We’re ready to go.”

“Daniel’s alive,” Tori says. “Jaden says they saw him last night, at work.”

“That’s impossible,” Logan says.

“I’m telling you, I just saw Jaden, and he says Daniel is one hundred percent fine.”

“We’re all here. Waiting for you. Just come on. It’ll be like old times. We can’t know for certain. Let’s just have the memorial, go out to the barn, share some bowls. Say a few words. In honor of Daniel. I mean, his mom called me. She called me the day it happened, a week ago. She was crying. There’s no way she was faking that.”

“A week ago,” Tori says. And she knows then not to argue. She hangs up. Kay has joined her beside the car, and without explaining where they’re going, they climb in. Tori drives. She remembers the way; she would remember it with her eyes closed. Back then she took this road out of mind. She is out of mind again, and no drug has passed through her system since the night before, when Kay watched her smoke a bowl of nostalgia to black.

Daniel’s father’s house is stone, situated back from the road and surrounded by lean live oaks. The yard is dark, and as they walk hand in hand up the gravel path Tori’s heart hyperventilates in her chest. Before they reach the door, a man emerges, his arms crossed.

“Can I help you?”

“We’re looking for Daniel,” Tori says. She doesn’t know if Daniel’s father will remember her. If he knows that she was the first woman to strip him down and take him into her mouth, to crawl on top of him and initiate him into the world of lovers. That she has regretted that decision, and not only because Daniel wasn’t ready, not only because Daniel blamed her for losing himself. “I’m an old friend. I had dinner here once.” Matzo balls in broth. Toast and steamed Brussels sprouts.

“Not really, but my memory’s not all it used to be. Daniel’s in his room, up there. Do you want me to go get him?”

Tori’s body wilts. Relief. She thinks about the last time she saw him, his hair tangled, clothes baggy and torn, eyes bloodshot. The memories overwhelmed her like a drug, and it was because of him that she no longer frequented Agape unless she needed to. Unless she needed nostalgia shoved into clear plastic baggies.

“No, thanks,” she says. “I’m tired of rehashing. But he’s not dead?”

“Dead? No, Daniel’s not dead. Why?”

“A friend lied to me,” she says.

“Doesn’t sound like a friend to me.” Daniel’s father’s arms have come uncrossed, and Tori isn’t sure when in the conversation it happened, but it seems to signal some small degree of remembrance. And what else could she ask for but to be remembered?

“Yeah,” she says. “Thanks so much. Don’t tell Daniel I was here, please.”

The man nods. “I remember you,” he says. “I won’t.”

Tori and Kay turn and walk from the driveway, slower this time, Tori listening to the crunch of their footsteps on the path. Kay’s hand in hers makes her feel safe, as if Kay could protect her, if she needed it, which she doesn’t.

They don’t go to Logan’s. Tori deletes his number from her phone, as she did Daniel’s long ago. Later she will block it, too. She is not mad at him. She understands the urge to hold on, to keep the people who were once close nearby. To relive that which you remember in a hazy euphoria. Instead, she and Kay drive home, where they sit beside the fire and look, without speaking, into the waves of heat lifting to the sky like a mirage in the air. Tori doesn’t load a bowl.

Kay snaps a picture of her in the firelight; when developed, it will show her body dark as night. She will not be smiling, though there will be a rosy fire glow on her cheeks.

“Can I?” Tori asks.

“So long as you don’t drop it.” Kay grins. Shur grin splits shur face like a crack to let light in.

The camera feels like her pipe in Tori’s palm, the same weight.

 

It will not be easy, Tori thinks, to stop. She will want to remember. Her photographs, then. She will capture the places she once loved, the people she will try to love in new ways. She opens the box on her desk and spreads the remaining nostalgia across a blank piece of paper. Arranges it to form a picture; a figure with no shape, no curves, no breasts, no genitals. Not too bad, she thinks. I can get used to it, she thinks.

The flash lightning cuts the room in half. Dots swim before Tori’s eyes. She hopes the picture will come out, but there’s no way to know until she develops it in the art building’s darkroom. It’s a beautiful feeling, to see and not see what the future will bring.

END

 


“Nostalgia” was originally published in Interzone, and is copyright Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam 2015.

This recording is a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license which means you can share it with anyone you’d like, but please don’t change or sell it. Our theme is “Aurora Borealis” by Bird Creek, available through the Google Audio Library.

You can support GlitterShip by checking out our Patreon at patreon.com/keffy, subscribing to our feed, or by leaving reviews on iTunes.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back soon with a GlitterShip original: “The Last Spell of the Raven” by Morris Tanafon and a poem by Jes Rausch.