Mangosteen

Eva Khoury

I like to stay flexible. Green, like the shoots from a twig, maybe. It’s no good to get gnarled and knobbled so early. Though sometimes you can’t help but have those little lacerations heal hard. I just don’t want to become some sort of stone fruit. I’d like you to be able to bite deep, cut right through me, see the inside. All fleshy.

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She didn’t like that. She had partaken and still found something distasteful. Though, she rarely gives away where she’s bitten and where she hasn’t. How sharp her teeth are, how forcefully she’d like to pry us open. 

 

We stay together, I think, because we both like plums. There is something to eat together, then. There is also the washing of hands and faces after. And before, there is looking through the aisles for plums, assessing the shine of their skin, or their firmness when squeezed. We were clearest in the grocery store.

 

I don’t know how to write this letter. Or, if in fact, it is even a letter. Or, what constitutes a letter as opposed to anything else. If a letter is just something that has an address, a from and to, a coming and going, then how am I any closer to understanding? My trip from the car in the parking lot to my apartment is a letter. But then this is certainly not. This is from someone, to no one. It’s for someone who is neither the subject nor the witness. It’s for a desk, and the inhabitants of that desk, but even then not directly.

 

The non-letters upset her, I think. I remember realizing this the night of the Christmas party, standing in front of the mirror, motions overly confident and swinging, heavy. The zipper was small, black, and slippery. I will concede that this did fit the dress in concept and personality. I must have gained some weight in the chest, or somehow in that indefinable area on the side along the ribs, under the armpits. Zipping is a sweaty affair, and one meant for a wearer who has someone. Dresses are cruel that way. They require another hand, and even as you step into something fundamentally uncomfortable and itchy, they take a moment to put you at the mercy of another soul. You can choose only to be vulnerable in front of someone, or struggle and fail on your own. Either way it speaks: you are helpless. And maybe, you are alone. Definitely, you are alone.

 

I need to find someone who knows their way around a zipper. Maybe someone who likes lychee, and takes good care of their mustache. Someone who reads not-letters, and understands desks. 

 

I’ve been coming to the fish market every day for the past three and a half weeks. It has not become less terrifying. Everyday I walk each aisle and examine the partitions in the ice, the squares of ocean dregs. Squirming, wriggling, dead and alive and half dead things. They are cold and laughably little graves as the last survivors struggle under the weight of so many bodies. I take one thing home, unidentifiable. I eat it that night. I burn it, I fry it, I deshell and gut and devein. I piece out the bones, peel off the skin. I cook it as quickly as possible. I never liked the taste of the sea. But this is training. I need it to become more severe.

 

While I still can, I have to stuff myself. I must hoard, indulge, binge. It’s going to happen soon, I know it. They all say it, the desk-inhabitants. I have to eat more shellfish. There isn’t much time anymore. There isn’t any time at all.

Eva Khoury is a non-binary writer, visual artist, and game developer based in New York City. Under their belt are several video games, animations and works of interactive fiction, piles of illustrations, and at least one now-decayed sculpture. They are inspired and terrified by nature's vastness, beauty, and constant, radical upheaval. For as long as they can, they intend to keep making art and easing the growing pains of a very strange time.

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