By Anne-Charlotte Fabre
A piece of flash fiction by our co-founder Charlie!
The sun beat down on our garden, so my sister and I set out in the one-pieces our grandma bought us to play our game. We marched to the back of the yard, behind the walnut tree and by the swing-set, dragging the hose behind us.
My sister remembers it as Water Boot Camp, yet I’ve always remembered it as Purity Camp. Where I found such an oppressive name, I have no idea, but that’s what it is and how I’ll always remember it.
I write this with the thought of the first girl I kissed, drunk at a party, because I thought that’s what drunk girls at parties were meant to do. And how that kiss stained my lips and never quite left – there is always a corner of my mouth dedicated to it.
We were 10 and 8 respectively, probably, when we sprayed each other with the hose during one of three trials. The nozzle spat out water in different ranges. Either a curtain of mist that caught the sunlight beautifully, or a concentrated pillar of water that cut like a sword and left hive-like rashes on our pale skin.
The hose snagged around the walnut tree, crumpling the tiger lilies that bloomed underneath, and constricting the trunk like a snake. Routinely, we’d have to halt and unwind it, yet it always got tangled again.
I think of baptisms, the ritualized splashing of holy water on a child’s forehead. Tell me, what makes the water holy? No more than a blessing by a singular man. My mother did not baptize us, she left the choice up to us. I think she wishes she had.
Our house loomed over, the summer sun casting it’s dark shadows onto the corners of the lawn. Walking in, you wouldn’t immediately be able to tell that it was a religious household. There’s no iconography or stray pamphlets lying about; just our cold checkered floors and a lingering ghost.
We drank from the hose despite our mother’s warning of various bacteria and disease. It wouldn’t be so bad to get typhoid or cholera. My sister cupped her hands and I filled her palms with the crystal-clear fluid. She became the bearer of a scrying mirror that held no future for us.
The day got colder, and we shivered, thoroughly sprayed down by the hose, glittering drops of water sliding down our backs. Our hair was wet and tangled like thick ropes, the kind my grandpa uses to tie his boat to the dock. We tracked grass into the house, splices of it stuck to the soles of our feet.
I write this with the thoughts of other women, women that I love with a tenderness I cannot explain. I want to hold them in my arms and feel their hair brush against my cheek. I don’t know how a woman’s body would fit against mine, but I want to. Her kiss on my lips, it’s old, but it’s there.
I write this while I watch kids in the park spray each other with weak spears of water from pierced bottles. I think that some things are not a choice. I think that some things will always be ghosts.
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