Smoke and Jazz

By , Austin, TX
It was in those cold Autumn afternoons, when our fog was pressed up against the window of the motel room, that we’d lay on our backs, staring at the ceiling for hours. We’d smoke, the grey drifting into the failing sunlight and have jazz playing in the background. It came from a record player, the one he always had with him, and we lay, naked and warm, smoking and waiting for nothing. The radiator would hiss and we were completely still.

I remember one day, one hour, when he lay on my open stomach, the tips of his dark hair tickling my breasts. I remember that hair, how it smelled of wood and copper. We both had places to be, by the time of the golden light streaking the bed, but neither of us could move. Neither of us wanted to move, and break this fragile box that we had so precariously built.

Gently, I wound the hairs into my fingers, curling and uncurling. I felt every bit of hair on his head because they weren’t mine to touch. The light and our sweat had turned us metal— glistening, warm, and shining like a sparkle on water. In my outstretched hand burned our last cigarette. His soft breathing tickled my skin.

His wide hands held my hips, thumbs rubbing patiently. They spoke the words that hung in the air. What we felt. What we knew. How much we wanted each other. They said things that we feared— of what we dreamed. They told me the last few bits of secrets he still carried inside that heavy chest, of stories and memories and lies tucked away in the crevices of skin and in the crinkles of the eyes.

The music paused, the needle scratched and a new song began.

In A Silent Way

Every so often, he’d sigh. But it wasn’t a sigh, so much as a relaxed noise. I don’t know if I can say I’ve ever been truly happy, even in that moment—

— but there, as I took a breath, inhaling smoke, my chest and stomach rising, that mass of thick hair floating to my lips—

I know now what it means to be utterly content.





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